From the iconic Desert Island Discs to the seriously addictive Serial, podcasts have crept up on us and become part of our everyday lives. It isn’t just comedians, writers and investigative journalists who are benefitting from this explosion in popularity. Over 4.7 million people listen to podcasts weekly in the UK alone – and businesses are taking note.
Some of the biggest brands in the world are using podcasts as a different way to engage their audiences. Here’s why you should be too:
Reach your audience, wherever they are
Podcasts are listened to more widely and in more places than ever before. The popularity of Alexa and Google Home means that 52% of podcast fans now choose to listen while they’re at home. And with 65% listening through tablets and phones, it's fair to assume people listen to podcasts while they’re on the go.
This type of passive consumption shows listeners are surprisingly open to hearing branded content. It’s easy to skip through video adverts but if brand messaging is embedded into content in an interesting way, we’re more likely to be receptive.
If this sounds a little on the ‘subliminal messaging’ side, don’t panic. Around 67% of listeners find branded content helpful rather than annoying. And there are other perks too – 89% of adverts in branded podcasts contain exclusive discount codes for listeners to enjoy.
Show your audience you understand
Recent studies show that 84% of millennialsdon’t trust traditional advertising, while 74% of people hate seeing marketing unrelated to their interests. This means that annoying YouTube adverts and #spon posts have officially lost their impact.
If you want to engage with your audience, you need to swap flashy campaigns for meaningful interactions. Ebay understood this when it started the podcast series: ‘Open for Business’. Rather than episodes acting as an advert for Ebay, the series offered support for people who have started their own business.
By offering practical advice to its target market, Ebay has engaged its core audience in a more approachable and authentic way. ‘Open for Business’ is rated 5 stars on iTunes and due to popular demand, a future series is in the works for later this year.
Make a connection with the wider public
We’re naturally skeptical of big businesses – studies show only 18% of adults trust what brands have to say. Even with tear-jerking festive adverts and collaborations with charities, it can still feel like there’s an agenda. If organisations want to really earn our trust, campaigns need to have the personal touch.
General Electric’s podcast ‘The Message’ reached number one on the iTunes charts by taking this exact approach. Instead of using a podcast as a self-promotional tool, they crafted a compelling science-fiction story for the public to simply enjoy. By doing this, General Electric raised brand awareness without the need to ‘sell’.
After releasing ‘The Message’, General Electric’s Chief Creative Officer, Andy Goldberg, said:
“I don’t consider it advertising. It’s a podcast show that just happens to be produced by a brand instead of a network. I’m not saying, hey, go out and buy a jet engine. It’s a science fiction story to connect listeners with what the GE brand is about.”
Those who don’t create, sponsor
There are lots of benefits to creating your own podcast but it can be difficult for time-poor brands to get in on the action. Organisations such as MailChimp and Netflix have found a solution. Instead of creating original podcasts, they’re sponsoring and investing series which are already successful.
Around 51% of listeners are more likely to buy from the brands that sponsor the podcasts they listen to. And a recent study showed that sponsored messages also help listeners to recall brands from memory:
80% could name brands mentioned in specific episodes
90% listened to the adverts in a podcast
67% could name specific products and promotions
Particularly when these messages are combined with offers or promotions, this approach shows that sponsoring a podcast can be just as effective as creating one.
Mics, camera, action!
We admit it, there’s a reason we’re sharing all our podcast research with you. We’ve been inspired to record a few sneaky episodes of something special – and it’s on its way soon. Follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for updates. And listen out for what we do next.