Podcasts: how hardware is driving listening to new heights

The old adage ‘we’ve never had it so good’ gets applied to a lot of things, however at the outset of 2018 it is definitely true when it comes to how consumers access content.

The evolution of smartphones, mobile networks and consumer expectations have all converged to allow the public to be able to watch videos, listen to music or access social media all for free, wherever they are.

From a marketing perspective, one of the most compelling content platforms to have recently blossomed has been podcasting. While it the format is nothing new, it has burst into the mainstream last year. Last month alone saw 67 million Americans and 11 million Britons listen to a podcast. It is proving to be particularly popular amongst millennials.

What is drawing so many people to the format?

Talking and listening

Podcasting is in many ways the modern continuation of one of humanity’s oldest traditions, oral storytelling. Before notions of the written language, it was the sole means of conveying experiences and emotions in narrative form.

Today, whether podcasts are narrative, interview or a conversation based, people tune in to hear something or someone they are interested in knowing more about. For brands, this tuning in is a key part of the appeal. Consumers have to actively choose to listen to a podcast, and given the broad range of podcasts available, it is easy for a brand to determine what interests line up with their products or services best.

the modern continuation of one of humanity’s oldest traditions

It’s not only our love of storytelling that has revived the podcast, but also the ease at which they can be accessed. Smartphones and app stores have made it possible to download and listen to a recording within seconds. People can listen to a podcast on the way to work, at the gym, during a long journey or during those moments when they just want to relax. All the while consumers are particularly engaged in what they are listening to.

Our research has found that of those who download a podcast, 93% will listen the entire way through. This is really quite impressive, for if we look at other forms of content, such as articles, people quite often skim read to get to the section they are really interested in.

Furthermore 60% of listeners have tried out a product or service they hear about on a podcast.

Evolving hardware

Even though podcasting has now come into its own and been given the seal of approval from commuters to communication executives, the concept is continuing to evolve with the help of smart home devices.

While many still consider listening to podcasts to be a solitary activity, smart home devises such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s recently released HomePod, are creating a new genre of podcasts which are listened to in a group setting. Also, though still in their infancy, we’re starting to see the emergence of connected cars, capable of streaming audio from the internet from multiple sources.

With smartphones and car integration, podcasts will exist right beside radio, giving many more listeners a chance to listen communally. People listen together and then discuss the topics of the chosen podcast.

smart devices are providing a hardware platform which facilitates supervised listening

It’s also not just adults that are reaping the benefits of the podcast, children too are starting to get content focused on their wants and needs. While most podcasts are aimed at adults and associated topics; smart devices are providing a hardware platform which is still controlled by a parent and facilitates supervised listening.

Popular kids podcasts include Insight Junior in the United States and we have seen this particular sub-genre of podcasts grown quickly in India with shows like Baalgatha and Myths, Legends and Fairytales of India to name a couple.

Audio also offers the great counterbalance between TV, gaming and reading. Parents are aware that their children are growing up in a world filled with screens, and they are looking for new ways to keep them entertained without needing to resort to an iPad or the TV. A podcast engages children with words and concepts. It requires them to really think and participate. The idea of a family listening to a podcast together or indeed a group of people, will inspire a new genre of content. Recordings intended for the family relaxing at home or for groups wanting to learn about and discuss certain topics.

Podcasts are evolving and working with developing technology.

They slot into people’s lives easily and without hassle, and they offer brands a new and highly engaging platform through which to build closer relationships with consumers, while also supporting great new shows.

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