THE POWER OF THE PODCAST
What is a Podcast?
A podcast is an audio program that you can listen to at any time, podcasts normally consist of a series of episodes. They can be based on books, politics, environmental issues, self-help and just about any subject that someone wants to discuss. The best thing is podcasts are free to subscribe to, all you need is an internet connection.
The ease of browsing and subscribing to a podcast became even simpler in 2012 when the iPhone featured a podcast app. The app enables the download of multiple podcasts in the same way you might download and categorize your music, making it quick and easy to access the podcast and episode you want to listen to, without needing to be connected to the internet.
Where should I host a podcast?
Numerous platforms offer free hosting including streaming sites such as, the very popular Spotify site and BBC sounds. One advantage of creating a podcast on a platform with free hosting is the ease of upgrading to a paid subscription when you gain popularity. Hosting a podcast gives you the chance to produce the equivalent of an 'audio blog'. You can choose any subject, or even read and review a book or create a fictional series, in fact, a British podcast called 'My Dad Wrote a Porno' in 2012, helped to launch podcasting to a fresh audience. Its success is partially due to the lighter, more entertaining style, which avoided heavy discussions about anything controversial and instead focused on being funny and light-hearted.
Why should I host a podcast?
Podcasting is quickly becoming the most effective way to spread your message, impart information and sell products or services. This has been recognized by Google who has incorporated podcasts ranking status and made searching easier by indexing individual episodes and Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Google Podcasts Product Manager has said,
“Our team’s mission is to help double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple years,”.
Additionally, Google is currently investing in the development of seamless listening (device interoperability) which will make it possible to switch your audio between smartphones, tablets and your smartphone or stream to compatible speakers anywhere you choose.
Hiring a host
As with radio and television shows the host is the most significant factor for success, even more so than content and podcasts are no different. The host needs to build relationships and promote the brand, product, service, or information with an appropriate 'tone' for the target audience to truly connect and continue to listen to future episodes. There are many considerations when choosing a host and the wrong host can destroy the potential of a podcast regardless of how well produced it is and the information contained. An example is Joe Rogan. Joe has built his podcast from nothing, A UFC commentator, Fear Factory TV show host and now US$100 Million dollar conversationalist. The podcast just hit the big time. Joe can achieve things on his podcast that mainstream media has struggled with for years.
News and campaigning
Newspapers and broadcasters have long used podcasts as a way to target a younger audience and expand the reach of news articles, campaigns or fundraising. In addition to reaching a wider range of people, a successful podcast will enhance brand recognition and create advertising revenue that can be spent to increase the reach of both printed and visual coverage. Radio stations are also capitalizing on the success of podcasts and are investing in podcast operations, Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO, iHeartMedia, Inc states "the biggest radio platforms that have an advantage by being able to promote podcasts and expose new audiences to the medium in numbers no one else can deliver."
Selling with a podcast
Commercially, numerous industries are seizing the opportunity to sell products or services through podcasts. By attracting an audience that is already interested in the products and building credibility as an expert on the subject that the products are related to. An example would be a technology company that provided a podcast about using virtual reality for conferences or teaching. Consumers want to purchase from people and companies that show that they genuinely care about what they sell. Creating a podcast provides an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and justify the reasons for buying a service or product, directly to your target audience and reach affluent and loyal consumers. One great example is the podcast created by the online fashion manufacturer 'Pretty Little Thing'. Episodes contain interviews with celebrities and influencers, based around topics that are 'trending' among young women, their main target audience, such as, environmental issues, social media and feminism.
Podcast advertising and sponsorship revenue
Following the same principles of blogging, podcasts tend to be aimed at a specific audience and normally need to establish followers to become popular. As with blogs the advantage is that the audience you attract are more likely to take on board the product or message you are promoting as they will already have a vested interest in it. This, in turn, is reflected by the Stockholm-based podcasting platform Acast who report broadcast radio advertising now has serious competition with average podcast adverts costing between 50% and 100% more than the average rate for a radio advert on a popular station. Affiliate schemes have also identified the potential and numerous schemes are now available to podcasters providing ways to generate income, without needing to wait to get big enough to attract advertisers.
Podcast future value
The value of podcasts is predicted to grow exponentially with companies finding new and innovative ways to make podcasts work for their brand. One example of this is a podcast created by Saks in its Fifth Avenue store, New York. The ‘Brains Meets Beauty’ podcast is recorded monthly and fans can come along to watch interviews, attracting customers that would have never considered going into Saks and creating its own publicity. Podcasting is now a necessity for marketing and large brands such as Pepsi, Starbucks and Tinder are choosing to advertise on podcasts. Inevitably with huge budgets to spend the potential to make money from a popular podcast is increasing and driving the creation of new high quality podcasts with celebrity guests and paid subscriptions for greater listening control.
“Atomised audio will be a focus for creators as personalised streams take hold. Synced to the duration of your commute/workout, these will bundle localised and passion point ‘podcast’ content with music adapted to user preferences.”
— Corey Layton, Australian Radio Network