Earlier in July, Saudi Research & Media Group (SRMG), the group behind media brands like Argaam, Arab News, Asharq Al-Awsat, and Asharq News acquired a 51 per cent stake in Arabic podcast platform Thmanyah.
The acquisition was part of the group’s new digital-first, multi-platform approach and commitment to delivering original, unique, and exclusive content to consumers through new digital and social platforms. Founded in Saudi Arabia in 2016, Thmanyah has produced many highly rated podcasts including Fnjan, an Arabic talk show with a monthly average of more than 1.6 million listeners, as well as Swalif Business, Socrates and Things That Changed Us.
At the time of the announcement, Jomana Al-Rashid, CEO of SRMG said, “The global podcast market is expected to grow in value to around $3.9 billion in the next two years, enabling forward-thinking and creative platforms to capture new audiences and capitalise on monetisation opportunities, such as advertising revenues.
News announcements by social media giants and the proliferation of startup platforms catering to the podcast community echo Al-Rashid’s sentiments. In May, Twitter officially launched Spaces after being in beta for over a year. A paid version, Ticketed Spaces are currently in the beta testing phase. When launched, it will allow users the ability to charge anywhere from $1 to $999 for a ticket to attend a Space. In June, Facebook launched their own podcast platform called Live Audio Rooms. It lets users share clips from their favourite podcasts and also host or participate in podcasts of their own.
Clubhouse, the social audio app that gained a sizable following during the early days of the pandemic, launched a spatial audio feature last week. The new feature makes voices sound as if they’re coming from different directions, helping conversations and virtual performances feel more life-like. Last week also brought an announcement from Spotify who partnered with Delta, one of the major airlines of the United States, to offer in-flight streaming services and access to 40 select podcast series to passengers.
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of native platforms that are working to improve the experience of hosting and listening to podcasts. In August, Podopolo launched a new mobile app that claims to revolutionise podcasting, adding features that deliver personalisation, social sharing, rewards for listeners and an opportunity to connect with content creators. The platform uses powerful search and proprietary recommendation engine surfaces to curate podcasts relevant to each listener’s interests so fans can build social listening libraries.
So, what does this mean for content marketers?
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Reach a targeted audience
Podcasts allow marketers to share knowledge with the relevant, niche audiences. The giants in the space include Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Independent podcasting platforms that have seen considerable success in the past year include Transistor, PodBean, Captivate, Castos, Resonate, Simplecast and Fusebox. Each of these platforms bring in a captivated audience, segmented into categories based on interests. The good news for brands is that it doesn’t need to start from scratch. Hosting your podcast on these platforms or partnering with creators who share overlapping audiences means you can kick off a campaign without investing in a new platform and building a listener base from zero.
An interesting success story is seen in how Blue Apron leveraged passive consumption with their podcast called Why We Eat What We Eat. An American ingredient-and-recipe meal kit company, it used the podcast format without talking directly about the brand, except in the opening jingle. The show mixes investigative reporting with storytelling to provide fresh insights into the forces that shape human eating habits. In its past episodes, it has examined topics like the sudden kale fad and the evolution of Chinese food in America. The campaign followed a subtle strategy of engaging potential customers via genuine exploration and celebration of food. Listeners may not leave the podcast convinced that Blue Apron is the best meal delivery service but it shares their excitement about cooking and tasting new flavours.
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Overcome search saturation
The online content world is downright saturated. There are millions of people all claiming to be “experts” in their chosen field. Podcasts are a relatively new format, and brands are still exploring how to use platforms and creators to derive value. There are a couple of features that make podcasts a promising formula to engage customers. First off, it’s easy to repurpose content created for video or blogs to fit into the podcast format. Next, it’s easy to leverage influencers and creators that come with a sturdy following of their own.
But marketers need to be smart about the way they use podcasts. Customers are more informed than ever which makes them averse to hard selling campaigns. Instead, brands that delve deeper into value-based propositions rather than a product showcase offer a more compelling message.
During the pandemic, customer behaviour reports also noted a shift in perception and spending. A moment of reflection perhaps spurred by the pause in daily life during the lockdowns have left customers looking to spend their hard-earned money on brands that share their value system even if it costs more. Brands can use this to explore new opportunities to connect with their user base with special focus on different cohorts via information on listeners. For example, Sephora, a beauty cosmetics brand, partnered with Girlboss Radio to create a podcast on a line of lipsticks and women. The Podcast was called #LIPSTORIES where each episode featured an influential woman telling her story. The campaign encouraged women leaders which showcases how the brand shares values with their customers. Podcasting can be a powerful tool for brand building.
Creativity is at the core of a smart podcast strategy. McAfee manages to be genuinely amusing while instilling in its listeners a healthy fear of hackers. It enjoys success with its podcast Hackable? which operates as an investigative look into hacking myths. It’s a happy fit that stays on topic but also entertains. Think of it as 21st century ghost stories.
There are short and long-term goals that a marketer can achieve when it comes to measuring the success of a podcast campaign, some more tangible than others. Engagement and a deeper relationship with customers seems like the most crucial one. A fresh format for waterfall content can offer simpler, more measurable metrics. B2B brands may leverage podcasts to build thought leadership and recognition for leaders in the company.