audioBoom is one of the world's largest spoken word audio platforms. It hosts, distributes and monetises podcasts. Head of India operations Aman Goklani says they are the audio parallel to YouTube but more B2B in nature. First, audioBoom gets the podcaster on the platform, then works on either getting their listeners from their own captive audience or distributing content via third parties like Apple Podcast, Google Podcast or Saavn. Goklani presented a report on the podcasting scenario - globally and in India. Excerpts:
The US is the most advanced podcast market in the world which is why much of the data with respect to the podcasting business is derived from the US. Revenues in the US are projected to touch $402 million by the end of 2018. By 2020, that will grow to $659 million. Globally, the market is expected to become worth $1 billion (roughly Rs 7,000 crore). audioBoom plans to capture 10 per cent of this market.
How are people consuming podcasts in the US?
In 2018, about 69 per cent consumed podcasts on a portable device - mainly mobile (Source: The Infinite Dial, a study done by Triton Digital and Edison Research). Eighteen per cent Americans own smart speakers (like Alexa and the Google Home), 44 percent have listened to a podcast in 2018 - a sharp climb from 11 per cent in 2006.
Forty-nine per cent of the users consume podcasts at home. One statistic that I was startled by is that 22 per cent consume it in car/truck while 4 per cent do so while riding public transportation. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't become the absolute opposite in India because we have longer commute times. Podcasts are a great way to spend time because you are listening to what you want to listen rather than to a RJ you may not want to listen to - or music that you don't want to listen. What is aiding this trend is that cars are getting smarter and infotainment systems within cars are getting better.
This is the biggest USP that podcasts bring to the table. Eighty per cent of the people that listen to podcasts, end up listening to the entire episode. The only parallel in India where I have seen such kind of engagement is fantasy gaming. I have had the privilege of working in fantasy games such as Super Selector - people are so competitive that they want to build a team, stay on top, beat their friends and beat others. They spend a lot of time building a team. The only time I have seen that kind of engagement on digital is in podcasts, where users spend, on an average, 15-20 minutes. No other digital medium has that kind of engagement.
Listenership by age group
In the US, 62 per cent of the listeners are in the age of 12-54. The statistic for India is far interesting. In India, as a company, we get around 1.5 million listens in a month, which is quite puny - a YouTuber may be getting this in one day. We are not discouraged because we believe that this will mushroom in the future. In November 2016, we had only 50,000 listens. That is a 40X growth for us. Globally, audioBoom gets about 60 million listens a month. Of this, 70 per cent come from the US, followed by the UK, Australia and Canada.
When it comes to podcasts, India has a 48 per cent completion rate of up to 75 per cent content length. In simple terms, this means that 48 per cent of our users view 7.5 minutes of a 10-minute content that is played. That is huge. And 89 per cent of people are in the 18 to 34 age group. That is your Millennial audience.
Listenership by gender
We have noticed a very interesting phenomenon. If the host of a podcast is a woman, the percentage of women listening in could be as high as 80 per cent. It really depends on the kind of content there is - who is creating it and what the subject matter is.
Consumption in India
Nearly 77 per cent of the listeners in India are consuming it on the go (on their mobile phones) and 2 per cent do it on their tablets.
Listens are coming from across the country. The top cities listening to podcasts are Delhi and Kolkata. This, however, is driven by who our content partners are. Red FM is one of our biggest partners. Delhi folks will relate to it since Bahua is one of our popular hosts. He is the most heard guy on audioBoom today. In Kolkata, too, many people tune in to Red FM.
We have noticed that daily consumptions tend to spike in the morning hours mainly because they commute in the morning. It tapers off in the afternoon and then rises in the evening again. Looking at weekly consumption throws up an interesting pattern. It moves in a wave format. The graph rises steadily from Monday until Friday when it reaches a peak and then falls over Saturday and Sunday. This pattern is true globally too.
Most publishers who spoke in this event focused on video. Not once was podcast mentioned. It was disheartening but you have the opportunity to change your minds. So why should you consider podcasts?
Tap into an engaged audience: The stickiness is really high. You wouldn't get it anywhere else other than fantasy gaming. The average time spent by the user on your site will go up tremendously if you add podcasting to it. We have our partners saying how minutes have gone up from 8 to 12-13 after podcasting.
Theatre of the mind: I am an audible consumer. When X Files was launched recently, I listened to it (I probably saw it last in the 1990s or early 2000s). When I consume it in audio, it stokes my imagination when I hear those two detectives talking. Now, imagine a child listening to a story on podcast. It is probably the next best thing to reading a book.
Opportunity to capture the market: There is a dearth of podcasting content. You want to seize the opportunity today rather than five years down the line when everyone else is scampering over each other to do it. To us, audio is the next natural progression when it comes to content consumption. People have been consuming content in text for decades, now it is video. They go to websites. So why not audio?
Break from the clutter: People are fighting in the video space. Here you have an open field and you are offering your audience something new.
Low data cost: An audio file costs a tenth of the video file. I feel that 4G is a sham in this country. They should just call it 2G because it never works. With low data consumption you always stay connected with your audience. And the consumption is easy to track. Advertisers are also going to love you for this.
Why you should enter this market today
Jio has acquired Saavn. From 22 million active users they have gone up to 60 million post acquisition. Don't be surprised if it captures 100 million in a couple of years. They are one of our partners. Soon Spotify is going to enter the market. There will be others also.
Apple Podcast is surprisingly where people podcast the most. Seventy per cent of our listens come from Apple Podcast today. But the dark horse is Google. I call them the dark horse as the penetration of these phones is not so high here. Google Podcast is the sleeping giant in podcasts. When they come in with podcasting on google phones the game is going to change. Fifty per cent of all your search is going to be voice-led. Even today, 30 per cent of searches are voice-led.
Look at the distribution angle. The thing with podcast is that it is not something that you want to keep only on your website. You want to distribute it, put it on Apple Podcast, on Google Podcast. We, for instance, became B2B from B2C because we wanted to take content to where people are already there. You can give content on a platter. It is working for big podcasters like Red FM, Network18 and Quint.
The genres that work in podcasting
The ones that could get traction are: entertainment, comedy, news, business, sports and spirituality.
What's in it for the advertiser?
When advertising on a podcast, the product can be explained in detail. It can run across multiple shows and genres. It is delivered to loyal audiences. Podcast hosts have a loyal following that they build over time. So, if there is a Neha Dhupia, she already may have a loyal following.
Time limitation is less of a factor (the ad I played just now was for 2 minutes) in a podcast. It is free of clutter - an hour-long podcast may have just two ads. Your site's call to action can be integrated into the podcast. Inventory is always available for this.
You can create the content and licence it out. Or get subscriptions. Put the podcast behind a paywall and have your subscribers pay for it.
Digipub World 2018 is partnered by - Timesnownews.com (platinum partner); Akamai and Facebook (silver partners); and Freshworks, Vidooly, comScore, Quintype, Times Internet, and 24 Frames Digital (bronze partners).
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