As I get in the car to drive to the office, I go through the usual routine: Seatbelt, check. Coffee, check. Podcast, check. That’s right. Almost subconsciously, I’ve made a change in my daily routine to include a different media choice. It started a while ago. Initially it was just curiosity; now it’s something more.
Sure, I still listen to radio. But what is it that is making podcasts a welcome part of the audio media landscape?
My theory is that successful podcasters understand the difference between radio and what they are delivering, and therefore produce their podcasts in a way that’s different from other forms of audio communication.
Let me explain by using an example we see often in radio marketing. Failure likely will result from trying to retrofit the same words from, say, a TV ad into a radio message. When the words are not written specifically for radio and a radio listening audience, the message falls flat—or worse, isn’t fully understood.
It’s likewise with podcasts. There has to be a clear vision of the medium itself, the profile of those who engage with it, and the positioning of those companies that advertise on it. Podcasts that are on-demand reruns of radio content may be great for the time-shifting listener, but they don’t fully tap into what it is that podcasts can do as a medium.
Radio content has a short window to engage the listener and battles against very finite attention spans. Podcasts don’t have that problem: Their content has been chosen by the listener as something of interest. There’s no changing the channel. Podcasts hold listeners’ undivided attention. Wouldn’t it be a great opportunity to give these listeners more? To supplement, rather than repurpose, content?
And when it comes to the marketing of podcasts, is it any wonder that one of the prime avenues of advertising is on other podcasts?
As available podcasts approach 300,000, listeners have quickly gravitated to the topics that speak directly to them. Better production, more in-depth coverage of topics, a wide variety of choices for every mood or interest, and almost universal availability have all elevated audio on-demand in the media conversation. If you follow the business, you can already identify the early winners. Fast becoming a crowded field, podcasts compete not only with other forms of audio and other podcasts, but all the other communication outlets vying for love and affection.
With so much at stake, newcomers to the podcast world will have to do more than look and feel like podcast providers; they’ll have to live and breathe the medium if they are to become long-term winners. And you’ll be fooling yourself to think the more discerning, astute listening base initially attracted to podcasts won’t be able to pick this up. This is particularly true of radio producers who are looking to tap into this medium.
Welcome to this exciting and perplexing field. Proceed with caution.
Executive Vice President