Vandaele Capital

The Return of Podcasting.

Western Culture has been impregnated by tales of sheer desire and the failure or success in achieving them. From the ubiquitous failure of Arthur Miller’s Willie Loman, to the less-than legal riches of the Great Gatsby, as a society we are obsessed with success. Barring none however, the staunch podcasters of the world are the true heroines of a contemporary tale that has transfigured the bust of 2008, when listening to podcasts dramatically declined, to the present-day – the ‘Second Golden Age’ for podcasters, creating a swathe of opportunity for businesses and listeners alike.

Hosting companies, such as SoundCloud, are capitalizing on podcasting’s return to notoriety. In the past year, they have developed a Beta podcasting program that allows want-to-be hosts the opportunity to obtain a free RSS FeedSoundCloud (simply, the stream in which all shows are put) on the familiar SoundCloud platform. However, as it is still in its Beta stage of development, this is subject to application, but there are plans to widely roll this out to every SoundCloud account.

The podcasting business model may seem superficially flawed. Distributing free content in an already crowded market place sounds like a safe investment, said no one ever! However, there is more than meets the eye, due to podcasting’s growing popularity and increased interest amongst ad agencies.

The question everyone is asking is how. How could a media form regarded as obsolete and niche not so long ago, presently, challenge the giants of the industry? Well, it’s simple, listeners. The Washington Post made a conservative estimate, suggesting that in 2013 there was over 75 million people who tuned into a podcast from time to time, with well in excess of a billion shows having been downloaded, since the birth of the podcast to 2013.

The true extent of podcasting’s appeal has been shown by Edison Research, who found that between 2013 and 2014, podcast consumption had increased by 25% in the US, and in 2015, 17% of Americans had listened to a podcast in the month prior to the survey. A staggering 46 million Americans are now regular podcast listeners, which is an extensive increase from 2008, the time previously thought of as podcasting’s glory days, when only 9% of Americans listened to podcasts on a regular basis.

In recent years, it is evident that there has been a shift in the nature of podcasting. The epoch of the primary Golden Age was fuelled by a cacophony of uneducated idiot-hosts, sitting behind $5 microphones, spewing nonsense for half an hour – trust me, I was one. No longer. Podcasting has gotten serious, seriously high quality that is. There is has been tsunami of content in the past two years. New shows regarding even the most particular and, on occasion, odd niches are widely available. Even celebrities like Russell Brand and British comedy duo Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant are cashing-in on the wide-reaching popularity and potent reciprocity of podcasts, hosting their own shows.

The inordinate availability of podcasts has opened a window to new ventures. Not only are barriers to entry marginal, an initial investment of between $400 and $1,000 will suffice, allowing businesses to reach previously unreachable clients, as a podcast can be played anywhere. Not only has podcasting grown in prominence around the globe, with new localized shows being launched on every continent, but it also seems to have a greater chance of capturing and holding a listener’s attention. This is a major aspect of podcasting’s potential for business. Edison Research found that in 2014, amongst those who listen to podcasts, these people spent more time listening to podcasts than listening to digital music. Furthermore, the same study also found that podcast listeners only spent an extra 2% of their time listening to AM/FM radio.

The true appeal to clients is the versatility they offer. With the rapid growth of smartphones, Pew Research Centre suggests that over 61% of Americans now own one, podcasts are available anytime anywhere. If you are one of the shrinking minority who can habitually function without your super-smart phone, statistics say you won’t be in that minority for much longer.

The demographics of podcast listeners are revealing. Those who listened to NPR in 2014, one of the most popular producers of podcast shows, were far more likely to be wealthier and better educated than the average American. The educational attainment of listeners exceeded the US average, with over 42% of those with a post-graduate and college degree found to be regular podcast listeners, by NPR’s own listening figures. Furthermore, 33% of NPR’s audience is constructed by those who earn more than $100k a year and 19% can boast income of $75k to $100k a year – both far exceeding the proportion of earners among the general population.

Podcasting’s exclusive and affluent listeners are the ideal stomping ground for marketers across the world. Not only can the content be produced globally, but the market can be tapped into with ease. Pre and mid roll ads are some of the most common methods by which to profit from podcasting.

With ad agencies such as RadioTail connecting advertisers and producers, making money from podcasting can be a rather swift process, augmented by the creator’s ability to choose a long term sponsorship deal with larger companies.

This is the paradigm of podcasting. The audiences are richer and better educated than the listeners of other forms of audible media, comfortable territory for those who wish to fiscally capitalize on podcasting’s rise. The ad revenues perpetually incline as the audience does likewise. Indeed, podcasting has been remodeled from an art form to an efficient and potent marketing tool. The true power of podcasting is developing brand awareness and with millions of listeners, it looks like it’s here to stay, so don’t be left behind.

Marketing has evolved once more.

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