Podcasting Plots to Retain New Listeners Put up-Pandemic By Embracing Area of interest Matters, New Promotional Methods

The enterprise of podcasting appears to have confirmed proof against the unfavourable impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The {industry} has seen a rise in listenership, in accordance with Morning Seek the advice of pattern knowledge and insights from {industry} leaders, which incorporates new listeners discovering the medium for the primary time, in addition to present followers listening to podcasts extra ceaselessly. Advertisers have caught on and maintained a rising curiosity within the medium all through the pandemic.

Podcasting is a “sticky medium,” stated Jason Saldanha, chief of enterprise improvement and content material at PRX, a non-profit audio firm chargeable for distributing titles reminiscent of “TED Talks Day by day” and “The Moth Radio Hour,” so many executives anticipate that new listeners will stick round.

However as vaccines grow to be extra broadly out there and the nation prepares to return to its new regular this 12 months, podcast corporations are nonetheless getting ready methods to carry onto these listeners who turned invested throughout the pandemic: embracing area of interest matters, signing on extra celebrities and increasing their advertising and marketing.

Roughly one-quarter (22 p.c) of U.S. adults stated they’re listening to podcasts extra as a consequence of social distancing and stay-at-home habits, in accordance with a Morning Seek the advice of survey performed March 23-26, 2021, a slight uptick in comparison with 18 p.c who stated the identical when Morning Seek the advice of requested in March 2020.

About 1 in three Individuals (32 p.c) stated they now hearken to podcasts not less than as soon as every week, in accordance with the newest survey. When requested to mirror on their pre-pandemic listening habits, 26 p.c stated they streamed podcasts not less than weekly. 

These figures are reflective of inner knowledge at main podcasting corporations and, notably, buck seasonal tendencies which often see lulls in the summertime and winter vacation months.

PRX, which generally sees greater than 70 million downloads per thirty days, noticed downloads improve by 33 p.c from 2019 to 2020 for a complete of greater than 1 billion downloads, stated Chief Advertising and marketing Officer Donna Hardwick. In November, that improve was 54 p.c, and 29 p.c in December.

Marvel Media Community, an impartial podcast firm that creates instructional content material surrounding social justice matters, noticed downloads stay excessive in August, sometimes a low month when it comes to downloads industry-wide, stated co-founder and Chief Advertising and marketing Officer Shira Atkins, with many listeners and creators vacationing.

The community’s “Encyclopedia Womannica” present, for instance, noticed listenership improve by 40 p.c 12 months over 12 months from August 2019 to August 2020, Atkins stated.

Though podcast corporations have kind of tailored to listeners’ new consumption habits, adjusting their content material, manufacturing and promotion methods, summer season and fall of 2021 will probably convey yet one more shift in client habits.

Area of interest podcasts are one key space for development. The style, which highlights pursuits reminiscent of gardening and baking, noticed a spike in curiosity throughout the pandemic, and firms are betting that this area might be an space for alternative.

That’s the case for iHeartMedia Inc., a radio big and one of many largest publishers of podcasts, which additionally noticed development in each podcasts about area of interest matters and throughout its general community. It was as much as 30 million distinctive listeners final month alone, a document for the corporate, stated Hetal Patel, iHeartMedia’s government vice chairman of company analysis and analytics.

The corporate is gearing as much as launch a slate of journey reveals as that {industry} rebounds, for example, with some fronted by unknown creators dwelling in attention-grabbing locations and others led by celebrities.

“We need to be there if podcasting strikes into an increasing number of area of interest genres,” stated Conal Byrne, chief government of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group.

The superstar podcast can be right here to remain, executives agreed, with A-list celebrities reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen — who now hosts a present with former President Barack Obama — and Demi Lovato signing on in 2021 to get behind the mic, and much more who launched podcasts in 2020.

Saldanha stated that whereas celebrity-led podcasts drive visibility for the {industry}, not all of them are of the very best quality. PRX plans to marry entry to Hollywood expertise that got here on account of the pandemic with its manufacturing and storytelling capabilities to interact audiences transferring ahead, he stated.

iHeartMedia, which has been within the superstar podcasts recreation since earlier than the pandemic, partnering with the likes of Will Ferrell and Shonda Rhimes, additionally plans to proceed recruiting A-listers for audio initiatives, Byrne stated.

And whereas children’ podcasts boomed throughout the pandemic, Rob Walch, vice chairman of podcaster relations at Libsyn, a podcast platform that hosts greater than 75,000 reveals, predicted that older audiences will improve their listening once they return to their places of work, presenting alternatives for podcasters who can goal that demographic.

“It’s more durable to pay attention at dwelling to a podcast than it’s while you’re by yourself,” Walch stated. “You’re not going to hearken to ‘The Joe Rogan Expertise’ along with your children within the room.”

To assuage client demand, podcasters throughout the board have elevated their output, specialists stated, rapidly crowding {the marketplace} up to now 12 months. 

“The quantity of content material has by no means been larger, however we’re nonetheless preventing for under 5 or 6 slots within the common listener’s playlist,” stated Will Malnati, chief government of At Will Media, an impartial podcast studio that creates branded podcasts for companions together with Netflix Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. 

As podcasting continues to more and more overlap with different digital mediums, with film stars taking to audio and TV sequence investing in official companion podcasts, the {industry} is seeking to develop its advertising and marketing and promotion methods to completely different platforms.

For large networks reminiscent of iHeartMedia, it’s pretty straightforward to “use all of our advertising and marketing firepower to shout very loudly” about new reveals, Byrne stated. For the small and mid-sized podcast corporations that account for such a big portion of the {industry}, nonetheless, standing out takes a bit extra calculation and planning. Within the post-pandemic period, many of those corporations are leaning into social media advertising and marketing. 

At PRX, Hardwick’s staff is exploring alternatives on audio platforms reminiscent of Clubhouse and expects to roll out content material there someday this summer season. 

Jessica Cordova Kramer, co-founder and chief government of Lemonada Media, stated selling reveals on Instagram has confirmed profitable, and that the corporate will proceed to investigate tendencies on the platform to optimize its campaigns as client habits modifications.

“I anticipate when folks return to work, our social content material would possibly have to go up at completely different occasions if folks aren’t consistently on-line anymore,” Kramer stated. “Proper now, individuals are listening to podcasts at any time when then can, however we anticipate when folks begin going again to a commute, these numbers will fluctuate extra all through the day.”

Whereas particular listening habits would possibly change but once more, it’s not going that new podcast followers will abandon the medium or the reveals they’ve found up to now 12 months anytime quickly.

“Avid podcast listeners have solely discovered new alternatives to hearken to podcasts that’ll probably final and develop past the pandemic,” stated Veronika Taylor, managing director for the Americas on the podcast firm Acast. “And that doesn’t even cowl all the brand new listeners that podcasts have adopted over the previous 12 months.”

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