Why are so many people talking about podcasts?

Why are so many people talking about podcasts? Podcasts are getting more and more popular. When I ask people if they listen to podcasts I would say the majority haven’t, but those that haven’t do have the concept that it is something they should look into. So why are podcasts getting so popular?

They are intimate, personal, and about people relating and connecting

When you listen to a podcast it is just you and the podcast host or hosts, in your home, your car or a few millimetres from your ear. It is about the host reaching out and connecting with you in what feels like a one-to-one exchange. No other broadcast medium can boast such a personal communication proposition.

They are convenient and fit into peoples lives

You can consume podcasts while doing other things – things like getting on with your increasingly busy life. You can listen to a podcast during your commute to work or study, tune in with headphones at work, listen while doing the housework or in your own zone at the gym. You can’t binge on a Netflix series during your drive to work, and it would most certainly be frowned upon at work. You can’t read a book and do the dishes at the same time. Podcasts fit into your life around other activities. Coupled with the fact that they are increasingly listened to on smartphones, it really is a very convenient and mobile technology.

They are authentic, raw, diverse, and untouched by major media outlet biases

Because podcasts often (but not always) exist outside the major commercial media outlets, they enjoy a certain level of freedom from advertisers demands and trying to appeal to a mass audience by catering to the lowest common denominator. They can buck the trend and reflect the diversity of the community and not be all male and white. While it also has its downsides, the fact that anyone can grab a microphone, talk into it and put it on the internet means that it is not ruled by the same gatekeepers as commercial media outlets, and allows a diversity of voices to flourish. Because it can be someone sitting in their own home producing the content they are passionate about (not what executives think rates well or attracts the best advertising dollars) it is the ultimate in depth, authenticity, and passion.

They can be high quality, very niche, and can make you smarter!

Considering podcasts are 100% free, the quality of content, people and ideas are very high. Podcasts don’t need to achieve a minimum number of listeners or ratings to be broadcast, so niche ideas and interests are the name of the game. Like the Netflix model, podcasts give people free reign to produce amazing high-quality content that is perfect for a niche rather than a mass audience and do not need to worry about being palatable to listeners outside that niche. So find a podcast that suits your specific interests and hit that subscribe button.

Statistics out of American say that podcast listeners have a higher level of education and a higher income. I am not claiming that podcasts made those people earn more money, but this is a medium where the switched on people of the world play, soaking up knowledge and educating their listeners.

Podcasts are the on demand streaming (Netflix) of the audio world

When we look at commercial TV, audiences are moving away from the usual free-to-air and pay TV channels in droves to get access to the high-quality programming available on demand with services like Netflix and Stan (or even free- to-air content viewed at a time convenient to them). Podcasts are the equivalent in the audio world where people are replacing commercial radio with podcasts and audio books on their daily commutes.

Audiences are loyal to podcasts

Audiences are very engaged and loyal to podcasts and their hosts. If a podcast has been downloaded 100 times that is 100 people who have actively chosen that podcast. While not all listeners will listen to the entire episode, there are few accidental or disinterested listeners because people have made the choice to hit that subscribe or download button.

What about advertising in podcasts?

When we put together the profile of a podcast audience (well educated, high income, loyal, engaged and listening actively and intentionally) and the lack of ‘wastage’ among the listeners,
we realise that this audience is an advertiser’s wet dream! Research shows that podcasts listeners are quite likely to purchase a product advertised on a podcast they are loyal to. At this stage in the Australian podcasting landscape advertising does not play a huge role, and the advertising that is out there is concentrated in small pockets. As yet advertising types don’t understand the medium and its value, and many niche podcasters don’t have the audience size or the skills to monetize their hobby. Advertising in podcasts will increase in Australia and deals are being done all the time to make inroads in this area – deals such as after a podcaster uploads an episode to a specific platform or network, dynamic adverts are inserted into episodes.

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