Why Isn't Podcasting Bigger?

Often we read a blog or tweet asking “Why isn’t Podcasting bigger?”

Indeed, it is becoming bigger.  But the lens needs to be adjusted properly to see the growth.   

Music and spoken word are generally presented together as “audio.” Podcasting, is a subset of spoken word.  

So, let’s separate.  

As one might guess, Americans spend more time listening to music than spoken audio.  Music can be consumed in the background, while speech usually requires the ability to ‘lean-forward’ and listen with intent.  For the overwhelming majority of people, the available time for the involved listening that speech (Talk shows, podcasts, sports, newscasts, etc.) requires is significantly less than what is available for music. 

Edison Research’s “Share of Ear®” study measures time spent with all forms of audio. Overall, music accounts for 79% of time and speech 21%. That means spoken audio is roughly one-fifth of all audio listening time, and taking the Edison data down one more level,  the average American (age 13 and older) listens to about 48 minutes of speech-audio per day.

That’s a lot.

When one drills into the speech-audio market, where podcasting lives, we see that it has quickly made a significant mark.  Podcasting has quickly taken 10% of the speech-audio market.  

Importantly, that number rises sharply when focusing on millennial and teen listeners.  Among 13-34 year olds, fully 29% of speech goes to podcasting.  That is approaching a remarkable 1/3 of all spoken word audio among younger listeners.  This more than suggests habits are being formed now that will likely impact audio listening of all forms. 


Broadcast radio, with its hundred-year head start, is the biggest player in the space --- talk radio, news, and sports stations - and satellite radio is a factor.  But podcasting is rapidly transforming the spoken word space from its historical form as a river of content that listeners dip their cups into as it flows along, to an on-demand medium that provides the exact content they are seeking at the time they wish to listen.

In a short period of time, podcasting has grabbed a sizable portion of the speech based market.

As technology becomes easier with smartphones, voice assist devices such as Amazon's Echo become more prevalent and infotainment systems in cars become friendlier, podcasting is poised to grow more rapidly.

Thanks to Edison's Larry Rosin for the data and inspiration.  


I will be presenting at the upcoming Talk Show Bootcamp in Atlanta on March 9.

I will be presenting at the upcoming Talk Show Bootcamp in Atlanta on March 9.



Car Infotainment Systems Are in the Slow Lane

Don't do this!

Don't do this!


In spite of the onslaught of audio from a variety of sources including satellite radio, streaming radio, owned music, podcasts and new sources including devices such as Amazon's Echo, linear radio has held up rather well. 

Many in the business claim it is the high appeal programming. Certainly that is a significant factor.  

Some claim ubiquity and ease of use help keep radio in the game. That must be a factor too. Punching up the AM/FM buttons in the car is mighty easy.

It is also possible that a good deal of radio's longevity can be credited to remarkably lame infotainment technology in automobiles. These difficult to learn systems have greatly impeded growth of smartphone use and other audio sources in radio's last moat.

Largely, infotainment systems in cars have been an epic fail.  They can be weird, ugly and hard to figure out.

In today's Wall Street Journal, personal tech writer Joanna Stern says; "I’ve uncovered the world’s dumbest computer… in my car’s dashboard." 

Today, people express frustration with byzantine audio menus in cars, and annoyance with tethering their Bluetooth enabled smartphones.  However, people are more determined than ever to unlock the trove of content on their smartphones and move beyond being limited to AM and FM in their vehicles.

Stern provides a guide to replacing the car's poor voice control and moving to easier and more hospitable software including Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto.  She digs into the best car mounts so people can use their smartphones safely.

Most car manufacturers have been in the slow lane when it comes to building a good audio experience. Many people have reluctantly opted out in frustration and in the short term, that's been good for traditional radio.  The car companies, however, are improving and the software is getting better so with each new car and each new smartphone, it is becoming significantly easier for people to be empowered and use the content they have curated on their phones.  

The bottom line - people want greater control of their mobile listening experience, and as the Journal article illustrates, will go to great lengths to get there. As that happens, radio's wide-moat in the car will shrink at a much faster pace. 

Watch the car ads on TV.  Ask a car dealer what sells cars these days.  Connectivity is what moves vehicles. 

Radio should be thankful that the car companies bungled the infotainment experience.  But the car companies are getting smarter.  And so are the listeners.  




Never Make A Podcast Unless .....

Richard Davies was a long time ABC Radio News anchor and recently turned podcaster. His excellent series "How Do We Fix It?" focuses on solutions to big cultural and political issues. With an endless sea of podcast introductions, his thoughts are spot-on. His post originally appeared on Medium.



I've been into audio ever since I was a little kid who slapped 45 rpm green, red, yellow and orange Disney discs onto the record player my parents gave me when I was six years old.

The stories, voices and jingles really were music to my ears.

Not long after college, to no-one's great surprise, I landed my first job in radio. I spent well over thirty years at stations and networks doing the thing I loved.

Last year, with my pal Jim Meigs and producer Miranda Shafer, I started "How Do We Fix It?"- a weekly podcast. We're having a fun ride and I feel privileged to meet a lot of great people along the way. Our 86th weekly show is currently in production.

At its best, podcasting is remarkably intimate and honest?-?without noisy distractions. Just you and another human voice in your ear.

Unlike broadcast radio or TV, listeners are the programmers, deciding exactly when and what they want to spend their time with. They give us podcasters their pure, undivided attention. In every way they are our equal?-?never to be manipulated, pandered to nor shouted at.

Sounds like the perfect environment for a content producer.

But let's face it: many podcasts are crap?-?weeds in the ever growing audio jungle.

And not just the two-guys-in-a-garage kind of spontaneous podcasts. Even well-made, sophisticated shows are often way too long, self-indulgent and without a clear purpose.

Your audience is busy and has a vast array of audio offerings to pick from. Many of us listen on the go?-?in the car or at the gym. The average American commute time is about 25 minutes. Most podcasts last at least half an hour. Mistake.

The first "don't" of podcasting is: Never waste their time. Make a show with purpose that doesn't last quite as long as you?-?the podcaster?-?want it to. Don't be afraid to slice out a few minutes.

Leave your listeners wanting more after each episode. Also answer this question: "Who is your audience?"

The second "don't:" Forget about making podcasts unless your brand, company or cause already has followers or subscribers. This medium is a great way to forge deep, authentic connections with your people, but on its own?-?without a website, blogs and other forms of content?- you won't make a splash. The only exception is if you're already famous. Anderson Cooper, Alec Baldwin, Snoop Dogg or Shaq can operate by their own rules.

Podcasting is special?-?different from radio and certainly not merely the audio track of a You Tube video. Respect your audience.

Third "don't:" making a podcast "live" or on the fly is rarely a good idea. Edit it and listen with a critical ear.

The fourth "don't" is about lack of commitment. While podcast equipment is cheap and the launch costs are small, the process can be surprisingly time consuming. Unless you are prepared to go long and deep with your podcast project, don't start.

A weekly show may not be necessary. You could release a new series every few months. But whatever the plan of action, successful podcasts require follow through.

Google "how to make a successful podcast" and you'll get lots of enthusiastic ideas about equipment, theme music, social media and the need for passion. Much of the advice is helpful. But be wary of those who only explain the "do's" and not the "don'ts" of podcasting.

Learn more about Richard Davies at daviescontent.com.



Forecast: Podcast Ad Spend To Hit $500m in 2020

This originally appeared in Inside Radio 1/10/17

Podcast ad spending will grow over the next four years at a considerably faster clip than originally expected, according to new projections to be released Thursday by Bridge Ratings. The firm’s updated Podcasting Audit Study says on-demand audio will bill $243 million in 2017, 17% higher than forecast in March 2016 when it called for $207 million.

In fact, the firm has raised its projections sequentially higher for each year through 2020. For 2018, Bridge expects podcast revenue to hit $316 million, 23% above its original estimate of $256 million. And by 2020 podcasting will cross the half-billion dollar mark ($534 million), 35% more than the original forecast’s projection of $395 million.

The revised numbers are based on a combination of the firm’s projected audience growth and interviews conducted in December with ad buyers at 25 national and regional agencies that Bridge shared its updated growth data with, Bridge president Dave Van Dyke told Inside Radio.

What’s driving podcasting’s swift revenue growth? “There is a lot of momentum in the sector,” Amplifi Media CEO Steven Goldstein says. “Anecdotally, many advertisers are looking for new platforms and fresh ideas. The ‘live reads’ and limited commercial loads are attractive.” Goldstein also sees more experiments with branded podcasts attracting new content ideas and new dollars.

But while radio has the “megaphone” to drive traffic to podcasts, giving it a distinct advantage in “a sea of podcasts,” to grow its share of podcast dollars requires a clearer understanding of the sector. “It’s like bagels and donuts – they mostly look the same but they’re different,” Goldstein says. “Fresh content will make the most impact, but a better job repurposing current shows would go a long way.”

Ismar Santa Cruz, VP and managing director of Radio Strategy at Univision, agrees that it comes down to the content. That involves “ensuring we are providing compelling and engaging content that will appeal to our listeners and, therefore, advertisers, regardless of platform,” he says. “Podcasting provides a concentrated avenue for great content, on the users’ terms.”

Original posting here

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for media companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com. Twitter @sjgoldstein


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Is Content Still King?

On conference calls and in conference rooms, how many times have you heard, “content is king?” Indeed, for me it was a tried and true axiom which came out of my mouth or keyboard often. Great content, whether in movie theaters, on TV, the radio or the internet, generally found an audience and surfaced to the top. 

But what if that is no longer the case? 

Media is different today.  

New avenues of content have developed; endless websites, cable networks, Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes.  Over a compressed period, content choices have become more plentiful.  There were 455 scripted TV shows in 2016.  That's up 71% in 5 years.  In 2011, there were 266.  Anyone can create their own custom music channel on Pandora or upload their own show on YouTube.  

There is so much great content available today that no one can possibly find, listen, read or view it all and the result -- a lot of great content goes unnoticed.  

This has crystalized for me as I view the ever increasing sea of podcasts.  A lot of wonderful content is undiscovered. There are exceptional shows that deserve to be heard but have not connected with an audience because they lack effective bullhorns, platforms or means of cross promotion.  So, while the content may be of high quality, it languishes in the “cut-out-rack” of podcasting.  

On a Recode podcast, music industry blogger Bob Lefsetz contends that the balance has changed. “No matter how great something is, if people do not have exposure to it, it doesn’t get amplified, nothing happens.”

Reach and distribution are rapidly becoming more vital and essential parts of the media discovery equation. 

Those with megaphones – cable networks, social media outlets, print, popular websites, marketing dollars, radio stations and the like, stand a far better chance of being found.

Being noticed is much harder today then when Bill Gates coined the phrase "Content is King" in 1996.

Good content has always been hard.  Good distribution is now essential.

You can't sell stuff if you aren't in the stores.

 In today's messy media environment, good content needs great distribution. 

So there it is.  Today, distribution is king.  

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for media companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com. Twitter @sjgoldstein


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Follow These 4 Mega Trends in Podcasting for 2017

The past year has shown how difficult it can be to make predictions.  So, lets do something different and follow the trends. Here are four "mega" trends which will likely affect podcasting in 2017.

1. It’s getting easier to listen, but still not easy enough – Podcasting is all about mobile. And mobile is all about on-demand content via the smartphone. The stats are clear.  Libsyn reports 84% of podcasts are consumed on mobile devices and that number is rising. The catalysts for podcast growth are the same as all media; breakthrough content and ease of use. One of the primary reasons the median age of podcasting is young, is the mastery and comfort of smartphones among millennials.  Many younger podcast listeners for example, discovered public radio shows via podcasts.  Not broadcast.  

Podcasting is all about downloads and streams on the phone. More education of "how to" listen is key.  

2. Two new technologies make podcasts easier to find and listen to – New tech is podcasting's friend. The proliferation of Connected Cars and AI (Artificial Intelligence) removes much of the friction in the process of downloading and streaming podcasts.  

The Connected Car will go into hyperdrive with Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto in 200 car models.  Google also released an app enabling greater connectivity with any connected car.   Podcasting buttons move front and center.  

The rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence is already showing signs of impact. Calling out the name of a show for instant play puts podcasts on equal footing with other audio choices. According to industry reports, Amazon has sold over 5 million Echo devices. Google Home had a significant television campaign and robust sales over the holiday. Car manufacturers are planning announcements for AI integration at this week's CES.    

3. The flood of podcasts will continue.  For now. -  Every day we see announcements about new podcasts.  It's an undeniable trend.  Podcasts are hip and companies want a presence. Some industry observers have called it “peak podcasting.” Doing great audio, however, is hard and the mortality rate will rise.  Already, estimates show about one third of podcasts series have ceased production.  

4. Discovery is difficult – We are talking about podcasts but could easily be speaking of TV, video, news and websites. While historically media success comes from great content that people seek out, it is becoming more evident that in a sea of podcasts, good content alone is far from a guarantee of discovery and sampling. There are many great podcasts languishing. Podcast ascendancy has always had a tie to social media but will increasingly be linked to cross-promotion proficiencies with other media and deep marketing skills beyond social.  Discovery is the defining problem for podcasters and most content creators on all platforms.  Discovery is the venerable "needle in a haystack" in a content rich environment.

One prediction - Facebook’s new “Live Audio” may turn out to be a win for podcasters – OK, this one is a prediction, since it hasn’t happened yet. In first quarter, Facebook will put audio into its news feed algorithm, and if it follows the trend of print and video, it may open the gates for audio discovery. It potentially gives podcasting some elusive virality including easier sampling of show clips. From Facebook's blog;  “We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video.”  Facebook has changed the calculation for many of the other media platforms.  

Follow the "mega" trends in 2017.

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisory firm focused on strategy and content development for companies and podcasters.




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It's Like the Radio, but on Facebook

The velocity of change in podcasting this year has been non-stop; new shows announced almost daily, Google Play, the ascension of Apple CarPlay and Google's Android Auto, new networks, advertising success, consumer growth .. the list goes on. In fact, Apple announced 10 billion downloads via iTunes this year.  

All of those events are significant and clearly illustrate the momentum in podcasting, but the year appears to be closing with potentially the biggest announcement of all.  

Facebook is rolling out "Live Audio."

After having spent the past year pushing publishers to broadcast "Live Video," Facebook is now offering the option to broadcast audio onto the social network.  On Facebook's blog they write "We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video."  

One of podcasting's challenges has been the discoverability and virality that news and video publishers have had. That may change significantly with Facebook's announcement. Soon, users can listen to audio interviews, book reviews, newscasts, talk shows, and more. Content providers would also end up with an instant feedback loop with user comments.  

Sharing of audio clips has been pursued by various organizations ranging from This American Life's Shortcut to Clammr with limited success.  "Live Audio' may be the innovation that makes audio sharing a thing.  

Notifications of posting can be sent to a Page's Live subscribers. That would be a big win as well. 

Facebook "Live Audio" is now in beta, working with the BBC and a few publishers including Harper Collins. They expect to roll out more aggressively "early next year."    

The Facebook blog says that "We know that people often like to listen to audio while doing other things."  That's a new and passive experience for Facebook users.

When Facebook opened up its news feed to major publishers, there was an instant change in consumption patterns.  Buzzfeed reported that 70 million referrals came from Facebook viewers in the second quarter of this year. Other major publishers saw much of their traffic shift to Facebook as well.

Anything that reduces the friction of discovering and listening to podcasts will likely boost listenership. Audio publishers could see vast traffic increases from Facebook in the new year, which would be a magnificent holiday gift to podcasters.  



Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com.



How the NBC Chimes Became The First Trademarked Sound

There is nothing more powerful in the audio business than a recognizable sound signature and yet sound branding has remained largely elusive. In fact, while many companies have tried, only about 100 sounds have been accepted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  

The MGM Lion roar, The Lone Ranger, The Harlem Globetrotters “Sweet Georgia Brown,” AOL’s famous “You’ve Got Mail," ESPN’s Sportscenter intro, the Looney Tunes theme song, and the "Intel Inside" bong are all examples of identifiable audio that are registered marks.  

The iconic NBC chimes however, is without peer and easily the most famous sound in broadcasting.  It has endured for 90 years and was the very first sound recognized by the USPTO.

The great podcast 99% Invisible, in cooperation with Twenty Thousand Hertz tells the story of 3 little chimes (started as five, actually) and its impact on generations of listeners and viewers.  

It's a great story and a reminder that audio branding is not new, and in a crowded soundscape should be on the mind of audio creators everywhere to cut through the "noise."

Enjoy the video which is a tour of NBC's audio and video branding through the years starting in 1926.  There is also a website museum for the NBC Chimes

The link for the podcast is here.






Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com.



Why Every Content Developer Owes Grant Tinker a Big Thank You

If you are in the business of content development, an actor or writer, you owe a debt of gratitude to Grant Tinker who passed away earlier this week.  

Tinker was the producer of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (as well as her husband) and numerous other great 70’s TV hits including Lou Grant, Bob Newhart and Rhoda. Later he transformed NBC from a perennial rating loser to a powerhouse.  In the process, many say, he was the catalyst to changing America's viewing habits.  

He rebuilt NBC with a keen eye toward nurturing talent.  He invested heavily in writers, producers, directors and storytellers.  Tinker created an environment in which they could thrive.  

Bob Newhart said in a statement that while at MTM Tinker created "this magical place where creativity and individuality (were nurtured). I was one of the people who was lucky enough to enjoy that freedom for 14 years on television."

He brought The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Hill Street Blues to NBC. Under his guidance, NBC's ratings improved and profits soared from $48 million to $500 million. 

In 1982, its first year, Cheers had poor ratings and was nearly cancelled. It was 74th out of 77 shows. Today, most shows have a short window to find an audience. Tinker stuck with Cheers and it ultimately had an 11 year run.   

In radio station conference rooms across the country when the subject would turn to brand and show development, I would often quote Tinker who said; “first be best, then be first.”  Even in today's hyper environment, it is hard to short-circuit the process.

Tinker will always be synonymous with the best of television, the best of NBC and the best in quality.  

Tinker believed in quality content.  

"First be best, then be first."  

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com.



What Wasn't Discussed at the Radio Ink Forecast Conference

Last week, industry leaders gathered at New York’s Harvard Club for an always valuable conference. The Radio Ink Forecast is a peek into the future.  But how far into the future?  

Much of the talk at the conference focused on how much people love radio, how much money streamers lose, flat since 2009 but hope for a 3% increase, how people need us in times of crisis and giving away more meaningful prizes.

There was frightening little talk about real strategies and solutions for big issues including down-aging of mature formats such as Talk Radio.  While it was not completely ignored, it received a paltry 3 minutes of conversation on the Talk Radio panel with the frequently heard lament of, "we need younger hosts."   

The only mention of the imminent vast tectonic changes occurring in the car with smartphones, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay was brief and during the podcasting panel, by yours truly.  It’s happening right now and radio needs to have aggressive strategies to stay relevant in an environment of unlimited choice.  

What about increased proliferation of private listening via earbuds which effectively eliminates PPM, and Nextradio?  Nothing.  

Time Spent Listening dropping in key demos?  Crickets.  

AI devices like Amazon's remarkable Echo and Google Home make any type of audio accessible by spoken word.  It will be as easy to ask for a stream, podcast or owned music. Ford has already signed up.  Others to follow. Not a mention.  

Where is the next generation of talent coming from?  They are on YouTube.  Not discussed.  

It was good to be at Forecast, among some of the best and brightest, but hopefully future conferences won’t be limited in view to tomorrow's forecast - the day after tomorrow is becoming increasingly important.  

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com.


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Android Auto: Now Available in Every Car

Understandably lost in last week's giant election news was a significant announcement from Google.  Its Android Auto product, already rolling out with 200 car models, and likely to forever change radio listening patterns, received a major boost.  

Android Auto will now be available on a car screen or as a phone app.  

Android Auto will now be available on a car screen or as a phone app.  

While new cars equipped with Android Auto will continue to proliferate, Google's announcement enables Android Auto on millions of older cars.  They will now have a fully connected experience by running an app on Android phones.  Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music (with its integrated podcast app) will automatically start when paired with Bluetooth as well as maps and other functions.  

Hands-free voice commands are a big  part of this effort triggered just by saying "Ok Google." Google will promote the convenience and safety of simplified visual and audio commands. 

It would be hard to imagine that Apple won't follow with an app version of its CarPlay integration.

Auto analysts forecast a turnover in the car fleet every 11 years, which means that change among drivers is somewhat gradual.  That may be true, but anecdotally, connectivity is what sells new cars today, especially among millennial car buyers.  Watch any car commercial on TV and see that it's not about cup holders any longer.  

So, Google's announcement cuts the 11 year time frame drastically by enabling any car (read: millions) with Bluetooth to have the full suite of Android Auto features, right away.

Google just put jet fuel behind the conversion of the smartphone as the entertainment hub in the auto. And for many, that means the smartphone becomes the new radio. Every audio producer will need a strong on-demand strategy.  

The app is expected to be released soon.  Users will see whatever compatible apps are installed.  

The pollsters may be averaging their odds of this changing things.  I will never bet against the audience imperatives of Choice and Control. 

Read more about the announcement here.    

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com.

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Unlocking Podcasting's Revenue Potential

This item originally appeared in NetNewsCheck 8/26/16.  Thanks to Mary Collins for the coverage and continued interest in on-demand audio.  

Podcast audiences are only growing – up to 35 million each week – and Mary M. Collins writes that’s one of many compelling reasons for publishers to begin experimenting with them if they haven’t already. The revenue promise is exciting: top podcasts are pulling $40 CPMs, while 65% of listeners say that podcast ads increase their purchase intent.

Mary M. Collins - NetNewsCheck
Podcast audiences are only growing – up to 35 million each week – and Mary M. Collins writes that’s one of many compelling reasons for publishers to begin experimenting with them if they haven’t already. The revenue promise is exciting: top podcasts are pulling $40 CPMs, while 65% of listeners say that podcast ads increase their purchase intent. 
When I got off a plane the other day, I happened to overhear a young man greeting a colleague who’d been seated a few rows behind him. He caught my attention when he said, “Did you like the podcast?”

It was real world verification of what I’ve been reading – people are listening to podcasts. And those people include millennials – that group that advertisers are desperate to reach. Moreover, listeners are engaged. They are talking about the content.
A growing number of publishers, large and small, have become enthusiastic about podcasting. Some are even seeing it as ushering in a new golden age for the audio format.

If you find it hard to believe that there is a future in audio, Steven Goldstein will be among the first to remind you that it’s death has been greatly exaggerated since Thomas Edison observed “the radio craze will die out in time” back in 1922.

Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, a firm that advises companies and podcasters with a focus on strategy and content development. In an article he wrote for MFM’s The Financial Manager (TFM) magazine, he outlined some of the reasons publishers including E.W. Scripps, The Washington Post, Hubbard Broadcasting and Amazon have all made major investments in the podcast space. He also shared the latest data with radio broadcasters at last month’s NAB Radio Show, encouraging descendants of audio’s first golden age to join the podcast rush.

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While it’s been around for 10 years, podcasting was largely niche for most of that time. It is hardly niche anymore. Today, 57 million people listen to podcasts each month, with as many as 35 million listening each week. That’s a 24% increase over last year according to Edison Research.

The catalysts for much of the format’s recent growth, in Goldstein’s opinion, come from both the content and technical fronts. On the content side, he points to the success of the Serial podcast from the makers of This American Life radio program, which focuses on unsolved crimes, and the popular WTF With Marc Maron, which reaches nearly 3 million people.

Technology Drivers

In speaking about technical factors influencing podcasting’s growing popularity, Goldstein points to smartphones, where one in every five audio minutes originates, according to an Edison Research “Share of Ear” report. He also expects artificial intelligence (AI) features like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo “will increasingly make the audio dial infinite and flat, enabling easier search.” YouTube and Netflix are also poised to “disrupt the audio sector with podcasts.”

In addressing the radio station’s need to get involved, Goldstein says more than 100 car models already include Apple’s new auto integration service CarPlay, which populates the car audio dashboard screen with personalized smartphone content. In addition, Google is rolling out Android Auto, which simplifies connectivity to smartphones.

Although in-car listening would seem to be the best place for a podcast audience, Edison Research reports that nearly two-thirds (64%) of podcast listening is done in the home. Another 12% occurs in the workplace, 12% in cars and the remaining 9% happens elsewhere.

Audience Delivery

Similar to the history of radio, these numbers show podcasting has the ability to deliver the audiences advertisers want to reach. About half of the top 25 most popular titles on Apple’s charts originate from National Public Radio (NPR) and other public outlets. “NPR has around 7.2 million monthly downloads in the U.S. alone,” Goldstein said, citing data compiled by Podtrac, a podcast measurement and advertising services company.

On the demographic front, NPR has found podcasts can compliment radio’s over-the-air audience, which is largely over 50 years of age. Podcast listeners’ median age is 30. Overall, the 18-44 demographic accounts for almost half of all podcast users. Goldstein observes, “With the newfound popularity of podcasts, public radio outlets are aggressively pursuing advertisers and listeners with a trifecta of youth, a highly educated audience and content not overrun with commercials.”

Commercials delivered live by show hosts have been very popular with advertisers. According to Goldstein, these ads have helped drive cost per thousand (CPM) rates of $40 for top podcasts, which is higher than most rates for commercial radio. In addition, a recent poll by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Edison Research found 65% of listeners said podcast ads increase their purchase intent, with 45% saying they're likely to visit an advertiser's website after hearing an audio promo. Additionally, Adweek reported that more than one-third (42%) said they would consider a new product or service after hearing a plug for a brand, while 37% use podcast ads to help research brands.

Differentiated Content

Similar to what we’ve observed in the video world, differentiated content is critical for attracting listeners. “As podcasts become more widespread, brands are looking to distinguish themselves with distinctive audio experiences,” Goldstein points out. Examples include ESPN, which has 28 unique podcast titles, as well as podcasts from news sources like Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Runner’s World, which speak directly to niche constituencies.

You don’t need to be a big name company to participate in the audio’s second golden age. As Goldstein observes, “Many small businesses have created podcasts for lead generation, and hobbyists have created podcasts focused on everything from movies to gardening.”

In another article in the same issue of TFM, this one about strategies to drive growth, A.T. Kearney’s Greg Portell recommends that companies explore new lines of business adjacent to their established products or services. Media companies are in the content business. It may be a while before we know for certain if podcasting will usher in a second Golden Age for audio. Regardless, there are a sufficient number of market indicators to suggest podcasting done right can reap valuable rewards for a relatively modest investment. That’s a message worth hearing.

Mary M. Collins is president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association and its BCCA subsidiary, the media industry’s credit association. She can be reached at mary.collins@mediafinance.org and via the association’s LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook sites.

Full post here

Steven Goldstein is CEO of Amplifi Media, LLC, an advisor in strategy and content development for companies and podcasters. Steve can be reached directly at (203) 221-1400 or sjgoldstein@amplifimedia.com.