Advertisers are looking at podcasts all wrong

Podcast listener with fake foam headphones

Advertising on podcasts is one way to reach large numbers of consumers. Whether or not they want to hear from you. But there are better ways that podcasts can add value for your customers. And they can help you grow an engaged community of brand advocates.

Advertising on podcasts

Podcasting is huge right now. It’s changing the way we listen to audio.

It’s also disrupting the way advertisers reach customers through audio mediums.

In traditional radio, advertisers bought airtime. The ads were scattered throughout the day. Then broadcast to whoever might be listening.

Now advertisers can buy podcast time, or entire podcasts. They can narrowcast their advertisements to audiences with a common interest.

One of the challenges for podcasts in attracting advertising or sponsorship dollars is a lack of usage data. Radio surveys tell us how many people are listening, when, where and for how long.

Podcast data is improving, but it’s difficult to get more information than the number of downloads a podcast has. Downloads don’t mean listens. We can all confirm that by the number of episodes banking up in our podcast apps.

Podcasting isn’t radio – nor is it new

Glenn Gould’s landmark documentary, ‘The Idea of North,’ first aired on CBC Radio in Canada in 1967. I wasn’t there to hear it. In fact, I wasn’t even born. The first time I heard it was as ‘audio-on-demand’ – a CD – in 1994.

A friend passed it on when he spotted my interest in Glenn Gould’s work as a pianist and my love for audio documentaries. My mind was blown.

Radio documentaries, talking books, audio love letters. We’ve had access to ‘audio-on-demand’ for a while now.

And audio can be much more effective than video.

Now, recent technical developments have put this access in the hands of advertisers .

Branded audio on demand isn’t new either

I once had a cassette tape of a doctor speaking about general healthcare. It came from my health insurer. It had their branding on the cover and their jingles on the tape.

That’s how advertisers should be looking at podcasts. It’s an opportunity to give value to customers. Rather than just advertising on a podcast.

Advertisers have experienced a shift in power with the internet. In the same way that media outlets have. Gone are the days when you could tell your customers what they needed and where to get it.

In today’s advertising and marketing world, businesses must give value before they take value. The consumer is in the driving seat.

Instead of advertising, you can make your own podcast

The internet has also given businesses multiple channels to communicate directly with their customers.

These channels are called owned media. You don’t have to earn them (with media coverage) or pay for them (like advertising). They include your social media accounts and email databases.

A business can put their advertising dollars to work in their owned channels. They can commission their own podcast.

A commissioned podcast, or branded podcast gives the business an opportunity to engage with their customers. To have an enriching conversation that can lead to valuable feedback.

How do branded podcasts work?

At Written & Recorded we work with a variety of organisations to develop different types of podcasts. We’re always impressed by how both parties approach a podcast from very different perspectives.

The business is usually very clear about their market, their mission and their goals. As guests of the business, our relationship with that organisation is similar to that of their customers. So we start with a great conversation!

When we worked with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, we were asked to speak to experts. In a podcast aimed at teachers, we suggested that the voices of teachers would be important. And because the podcast was about students, we recommended that we hear from them too.

Together we created a podcast that brought many voices together for one clear message.

We’re able to highlight the customers’ need for different types of information. Things that are appealing to outsiders aren’t always top of mind for people working in the business. The ultimate goal is to inform rather than advertise on the podcast.

What we really like to do is develop an audio strategy. A plan that highlights topics that interest both the the business and their customers. That’s when we know we’re onto something really effective.

That content can then be repurposed. It can be used to support online advertising, social media and other marketing channels.

Branded podcasts develop strong engagement

A branded podcast may not top the podcast charts, but that’s not the aim.

Instead, it will develop engaged listeners. They will become valuable customers and brand advocates. It’s much more effective than just advertising on podcasts.

A good way to share your podcast is through electronic direct mail (EDM) campaigns. You can also post them in social media posts, or online advertising. It can even sit behind a webform as exclusive content.

Podcasting is a creative medium. So you can be just as creative with your distribution strategy.

Here’s how our podcast recording services can help you.

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