Make Way for A Podcast Hustle

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The popularity of listening to podcasts has attracted the attention of marketers who wish to turn this behaviour into a potential marketing strategy

Over 80 per cent listeners spend over seven hours listening to podcasts every week. New episodes and platforms get launched almost every day. At a time when radio is considered old-fashioned, did anyone imagine this form of audio blogging to get so popular?

A portmanteau of iPod and broadcasting gave rise to podcasts in 2004. The following year, it was named The Word of The Year by Oxford Dictionary. With the charm of a human voice and unscripted narrative simplifies the learning. Compared to reading, podcasts soon became a source of infotainment. 

The Covid-19 pandemic 

Industries facing the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic faced a sudden void, wherein marketing teams felt helpless. Clutching at whatever means of communication that were available, marketing teams found their next golden opportunity in podcasts. Suddenly, every marketer considered podcasting as a tactic to carry out their business strategies. It worked! With over 850,000 active podcasts today and predicted advertising revenue of over $1 billion this year. 

While the system of audio blogging existed for over a decade, brands wonder why it took over 15 years for the medium to become popular. Experts reckon that the right advancements of AI and smart devices to deliver audio content was required. For instance, podcast company Castbox that supports around 50 million podcasts has intelligent features like in-audio search and curated recommendations. 

With several podcast platforms and tools available, podcasting giants including Joe Rogan, Tim Ferris, and Pat Flynn leveraged the medium to grow their businesses. The flexibility of podcasts has also attracted marketers and advertisers, making them a part of the martech stack.  In the US alone, podcast advertising is predicted to cross $1 billion in revenue this year.

The MENA region too has picked up on the sector with over 404,000 online mentions of podcasts since 2019.  These mentions generated over 1.7 million  engagements and proved that the only way for rapid growth was through increased digitisation. A PwC Media Outlook reported that the South African market would reach 19 million listeners by 2024, and another study reports that the Middle East market will cross $69 billion in 2026. 

Podcast’s intimate nature of having a conversation with possible consumer listeners is a crucial factor for all brands and their marketing teams. Several brands have already bid goodbye to traditional one-way, non-interactive marketing strategies.

The fact that 91 per cent podcast listeners in the UAE trust this  medium more than any other form, the Middle East has begun investing heavily in this digital technology. A Markettiers MENA report reveals that 83 per cent listeners are receptive to advertising, promotions, and sponsorships in exchange for free content. 

On the other hand, Arabic podcasts that are growing in popularity are facing a problem too. People prefer podcasts in their local languages, and this is proving difficult as there is limited search functionality and prevalence of incorrect algorithms.

Some marketers find podcasts to be inadequate. They question its inability to target audiences at a larger scale, and point out the lack of insights in ad delivery and self-service tools. Podcast platforms are trying to address this gap and many podcast giants have come up with interesting tools and concepts.

Spotify today has turned into an excellent platform for podcasts. Prior to this, the brand had launched multiple features to modernise audio advertising. Recently though, they announced the launch of Spotify Audience Network that allows marketers to connect with listeners both on and off Spotify.

Clubhouse took podcasting to a new level with its drop-in audio social media platform. While the platform was successful, the main idea of building this platform was to help maintain authentic relationships. 

Giving competition to Clubhouse is entrepreneurs Mark Cuban and Falon Fatemi’s Fireside. This application claims to be a next-gen podcast platform where hosts can not only broadcast but also monetise their conversation. It is believed that the app has raised a multi-million dollar seed to get started.

Meanwhile, the original podcast creator, Apple is also going to launch a podcast subscription system soon. Amazon Music and Audible also promise to join the changing podcast journey. 

Podcast guesting is considered to be an untapped marketing strategy. Promising exposure, brands invite speakers for interactive sessions with their target audience. Podcast platforms give entrepreneurs and brand executives a live session to share their journey with listeners. For instance, a podcast called Business Lunch has entrepreneurs as  guests who talk about their digital marketing strategies, customer experience and acquisition. 

Another platform for brands to gain an audience is The Marketing Book Podcast, which was credited as the go-to sales and marketing podcast by Forbes and LinkedIn. Having inspiring and raw conversations about their business journey and trends, help them in customer acquisition. 

A Middle East podcast Wamda engages with young entrepreneurial minds. They also feature industry leaders to talk about best business practices and strategies. 

Podcast’s intimate nature of having a heartfelt conversation with listeners who are prospective customers is an important quality brands and their marketing teams are looking to capitalise on. Several brands have bid goodbye to traditional one-way, non-interactive marketing strategies. Even Twitter is experimenting with broadcast conversations. To anyone wondering why it works better than a video conference or a webinar for prospective customers, it’s simply because one can multitask easily. 

‘Podcasts do not require a suit or a smile.’