Podcasts: audio for the content marketing mix
Podcasts were long considered to be a niche format. It turns out they were just ahead of their time.
Podcasts actually have quite a long time history and had even been written off as a failure, but today they are one of the most popular formats in the content marketing mix. There are good reasons, however, for both the long incubation time and today’s growing success.
Why podcasts initially failed
They have actually always been the logical complement to digital formats in content marketing. Text in various forms, pictures and videos made the beginning, but audio content was still missing. This holds true at least when comparing digital formats to the analog world. There we have the print media including newspapers, magazines and books that use texts and pictures. We have television and cinema for moving images. And we have radio for pure audio content and music. After streaming digitalized music, the only thing missing was an informative audio format. Podcasts fill a gap and this explains their success today. But why did they live a niche existence for so long?
They were simply ahead of their time, as two different perspectives show. One perspective is that of content producers. While text, images and even videos could be created quite easily and without additional hardware, podcast production was often thought to be more complex. It was by no means rocket science, but there were nevertheless technical hurdles to recording, editing and distribution, which no longer exist in the same form today. This would probably have been the case with video content if YouTube hadn’t provided the perfect platform for distribution. More media and brands presumably would have implemented podcasting earlier, despite the complex production, if there had been a YouTube for podcasts.
Production wasn’t the only drawback, but reception as well. When is a good time to listen to podcasts? And with what device? The name already says it all, as podcast is a word compound derived from “iPod” and “broadcast”. The programs were originally intended for MP3 players. This required listeners to have additional hardware as well. And the recordings had to be transferred to this hardware using a computer that was connected to the Internet. All in all, there were just too many hurdles for the mass market.
Why podcasts work now and serve as an asset to marketing
Today, things are very different. Smartphones now serve as ideal tools for listening to podcast episodes and even enable low-budget production. However, the development of user habits is almost more important. We are currently living in the era of productivity optimization. Each break should be used as sensibly as possible. We educate ourselves further, inform ourselves, let ourselves be entertained and try to do something for our health at the same time. In many situations, podcasts have become the ideal format: we can listen to them while keeping our hands and eyes free for other tasks. This makes them extremely versatile:
- during our commute, regardless of our means of transportation,
- in the waiting room,
- on vacation,
- while cleaning up around the house,
- on a midday walk,
- while jogging
- or at the gym.
This versatility is also reflected thematically. There are now podcasts on almost every topic produced by professional or hobby podcasters, media outlets and brands. For marketing purposes, podcasts are also interesting for another reason. Unlike other content formats, podcasts are characterized by a high degree of continuity. They are not only produced on a regular basis, but also listened to regularly. In concrete terms, this means listeners do not have to be acquired anew with each episode, as is the case with blog posts or contributions in social networks. Those who are interested in a topic and are impressed with the quality after hearing a sample, usually subscribe to a podcast. New episodes then automatically find their way to the listener. Nor does a platform operator determine who gets to hear what and when. Only the consumer themselves can make this decision. Really well-implemented programs with an interesting and entertaining setting thus generate a highly interested fan base over the course of time.
In the future, the number of podcast fans is set to increase even more, as smart speakers conquer our living rooms, thus making access to podcasts even easier. After creeping along toward the brink of oblivion, the time for podcasts has finally come.
Recommended podcasts on the topics of digital marketing and innovation