When Did Podcasting Become Cool Again?

It’s 2017 and somehow, somewhere along the way, podcasting became cool again.

I’ve suddenly found myself listening to podcasts almost daily.  Some are related to the news and current events, while others are hobby-centric or purely entertainment.  

Podcasts are called out everywhere and have become a viable channel once again, spoken of in the same breath as video.  

When did all this happen — and do advertisers feel the same way?

Radio advertising has been beaten and bullied for years, but according to stats I recently saw, it would appear radio is experiencing its own resurgence!  

The rise in radio listenership is attributed to people listening on their phones — as well as a redefinition of what people call “radio.”

 Nielsen reported that radio listeners spent 2x as much on audio programming in 2016 as they did in 2015. I didn’t find any stats for 2017 as of yet.  To be fair, Nielsen definesaudio programming more broadly so podcasts and radio stations are likely being lumped together, but either way can be viewed as a good thing for the radio programmer.



I would also attribute the rise in the format to more multitasking.  Audio programming still allows you to be doing other things, like exercise, driving, etc.  Audio is a low-impact media format that opens itself to this multitasking generation.

 Couple that with the sheer quality of the audio programmingm and the desire for publishers to find new ways to engage, and you have the trifecta of success: awareness, quality and access!

Radio can also be considered in the same vein as vinyl records and the movie theater, as throwbacks to a gentler time.  For years people have talked about the death of vinyl and how consumers would stop going to the movie theatre, and yet they are both doing just fine.  Vinyl is having some of its best years for sales since the ’70s and last year was one of the largest for the film industry in history (this year is down, but so is the quality of the movies themselves).   

When things get complicated, people revert to their comfort zones, and throwback media (as I am referring to it) enable that.  There’s a comfort in going to the movies.  There’s a comfort in turning on the radio or dropping the needle on a record that most over-40 people have.  The millennials and the younger generation tend to show appreciation for those comforts and have learned to exploit them as well.

I don’t think we want to go so far as to call 2017 the year of the podcast, but we can factor that format into the mix.  

Are advertisers jumping on board, though?  That’s still the question.  

In my experience, I’ve been hearing contemporary advertisers taking advantage of the medium to sell everything from razor blades to food delivery and meal planning services.  I’ve seen advertisers who know their audience well that increased investment in these traditional formats over the last six months, so I think the message is getting through (pun intended).  

Radio and audio programming are excellent frequency generators. Pandora has been blazing this trail for years, but adding more options is a good thing because it rationalizes the medium itself and brings more advertisers to the mix to check it out.

Are you advertising in audio and radio?  Have these formats succeeded for you?

3 comments about "When Did Podcasting Become Cool Again?".
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  1. Josh Davidson from Midroll, June 7, 2017 at 2:26 p.m.

    As a seller of podcast advertising, I'd say there is a strong demand for opportunities in this growing vertical.  It's the only job I have had in a decade where inbound calls/inquiries are frequent and persistent.

  2. Nicholas Fiekowsky from (personal opinion), June 7, 2017 at 4:42 p.m.

    Vinyl is growing in the under-40 category. One of our under-40 adult daughters requested, and received, a turntable and good-quality amplifier/speaker for her birthday. My wife added duplicates from our merged album collection. We walked to a local vinyl shop shortly after I set things up in her apartment. She browsed a long time and purchased several more albums.

    I've received several enthusiastic thank-you calls. Album listening is more engrossing than streaming - the listener must select the record, remove it from the sleeve... 20 minutes or more of cohesive structured engagement ensues - just as with a podcast. Different than dipping into a Pandora "station".

    Finally, combine this deeper participation with Gord Hotchkiss' "The Brain on Reviews". People largely subscribe to podcasts they find relevant and credible. This lends weight to promotions within the podcast. For example, I listen to the weekly "Security Now" podcast - even though each episode is over an hour long. I pay attention when the host explains why he uses a sponsor's product - that's strong assurance it will do the job well. I also trust the host would not promote a product he considered inadequate.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 7, 2017 at 8:06 p.m.

    Connection. You mention things to which people have a connection, a proven solid connection. We, the human animal, need connections.

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