Why brands are tuning into podcasts – and what you need to do

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Podcasts have grown exponentially over the past 12 months. Acast, a curated platform for podcasts, has increased its listeners from 4 million in November 2015 to 10.9 million in November 2016. More globally, Rawvoice, a data firm that tracks 20,000 shows, reported that 75 million people listen to its podcasts each month – triple the 25million listeners it had just five years ago. And Edison Research shows weekly podcast consumption is on a constant year on year growth of 25%.

Following this rapid boom, we undertook research into the efficacy of podcasts which showed that 61% of listeners don’t mind listening to adverts if the podcast is free, and only 14% would actively pay for a podcast without advertisements.

Podcasting is in its prime; our research suggested it, these new figures confirm it, and advertisers and brands are realising the value in it.

Companies such as Squarespace and MailChimp have jumped on the trend and started advertising across several high-profile podcasts. But standard sponsorship spots are not the future of advertising on this format.

While our research shows listeners are happy to hear ads in return for listening for free, where true value lies is in partnerships between brands and podcasters in order to create bespoke content that resonates with its audience. Much like the rest of the advertising world, it’s about creating native advertising content that resonates with the audience.

In October 2016 Up at The O2 launched its Autumn 2016 campaign using podcasting platform Acast in a deal we brokered with a podcast from TV historian Dan Snow. The deal saw Dan experience Up at The O2 for himself with a sunrise climb and broadcast a history-based branded content episode from the summit.

Podcasting is in its prime; our research suggested it, these new figures confirm it, and advertisers and brands are realising the value in it

The climb was aired via Facebook Live which garnered over 70,000 views, with a ‘History of London’ branded content episode being broadcast on Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast.

And this isn’t the only way brands can get on board with podcasts. This time last year General Electric, or GE, launched the GE Podcast Theatre by broadcasting its first podcast series, a fictional science-fiction drama called The Message.

GE weaved its products into the story, creating a form of branded content that engaged listeners who previously might not have known what GE was. The podcast was so successful, with nearly five million downloads, that last month it released a new 10-part drama LifeAfter.

But how much should brands expect to stump up for advertising across podcasts?

Typically standard ad rates tend to range from $15 to $30 per 1,000 listeners which is about five times the cost of a traditional radio spot – but for good reason. Podcasts offer brands access to active listeners who want to react and learn from the content, rather than passive listeners that make up the majority of radio’s audience.

Qualitative research with listeners of Dan Snow’s podcast identified that the sponsored content helped to increase awareness of the climb, and also encouraged further action from those who’d listened to either plan a visit to the destination, search for more information online, or talk about it socially.

When engagement is becoming the most important measurement for advertisers, podcasts look like the obvious partner for brands seeking to engage with their audiences.

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