Commentary

Is Podcasting Overhyped Among New Technologies?

Spotify's planned acquisition of podcast startup The Ringer has renewed recent attention on podcasting, and the possibilities for publishers to extend their brands among a growing audience of streamed audio content.

Podcasting has enormous potential for publishers, given the mobile portability of the format and the possibility of converting text content into a spoken-word format listeners can consume while doing other activities. The IAB estimated the podcasting advertising market in the United States may exceed $1 billion by next year, a tenfold increase since 2015.

That estimate is encouraging, but podcasting needs to catch up to the needs of sponsors to become more viable amid a crowded media marketplace.

A recent survey of marketing and branding professionals indicated a certain disillusionment with the format. They ranked podcasting as the second-most-overhyped emerging technology right behind chatbots, according to digital asset management firm Bynder.

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The reasons for that sentiment are somewhat unclear, though discussions I've had with media professionals indicate marketers are trying to determine how they fit into podcasting. They want measurable results that help to compare the format with other media channels.

For example, Spotify recently extended its dynamic ad insertion technology to podcasts, which promises to improve ad targeting based on demographics, interests and location, among other characteristics. Last week, the company reported  listening time had tripledin the past year among more than 700,000 podcast titles.

That's a daunting number of podcasts, but traditional publishers still have a chance to stand out, given their expertise with creating original content and ability to cross-promote it in print and digital media.

As a Spotify subscriber, I'm surprised there are that many podcasts, because that app doesn't help much with finding new titles without swiping endlessly through title cards. Their descriptions don't provide much compelling detail or catchy headlines, giving little reason to listen in.

It's akin to looking through dozens of streaming video titles and cable channels before concluding there's nothing on. That's how disillusionment sets in.

3 comments about "Is Podcasting Overhyped Among New Technologies?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, February 10, 2020 at 9:15 a.m.

    Rob, one of the things that surprises me about some of the research used to promote podcast advertising seems to position it against digital display ads not radio or TV or digital video commercials. For example, a 2018 study by Nielsen reported that awareness for podcast ads was 4-5 times greater than display ads and also reported a 10% intent to buy lift among those exposed to a podcast ad versus those who  heard the same podcast without an ad. I wonder what the corresponding lift figures would have been for AM/FM or internet radio as well as TV/digital video?I think that podcasts can be a very effective marketing tool for some and, maybe, many marketers---but why not compare podcast ad effectiveness with the kinds of branding media options that represent big time media for most advertisers?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 10, 2020 at 11:12 a.m.

    We could "listen" to more podcasts by reading them (on paper of all things) within the same amount of time. And then if ads would be able to put them around the words or inbetween paragraphs. So many studies prove we pay more attention and have better retention reading rather than listenting while we pay attention to other things we are doing while listening. How about a combo ? It's all like buttoning a shirt and missing some buttons. The shirt seems buttoned up with thousands of little buttons but has too many peek a boo gaps.

  3. Robert Williams from Mediapost replied, February 10, 2020 at 11:33 a.m.

    Ed,
    Good points. I'm scouting for more information on podcast ad effectiveness, and will share anything I can find.
    Rob

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