Listen up: The state of podcasting in marketing


Some marketers are comparing it to the Golden Age of radio.

In August, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s release of a buyer’s guide for podcast advertising signaled that advertisers and marketers are beginning to take podcasting seriously as a marketing channel.

An Edison Research survey released in early 2017 showed that in just the past year, growth of the podcasting medium has been steady and the lift is in areas that are meaningful to marketers. Here are key highlights of the report:

  • Podcasting continues to rise, with monthly listeners growing from 21 percent to 24 percent year over year.
  • The audience is largely affluent and educated, and one that is more likely to pay for ad-free or ad-light subscription experiences.
  • Podcast consumers are truly a captive audience, tending to listen to most of the episodes they download.

So, as we head into 2018, we wondered what do marketers think about the state of podcasting in marketing? I asked around.

Spoiler alert: The outlook is positive.

Podcasts are effective but can be expensive

Nicholas Cavet, associate partner and digital strategy lead at VSA Partners, says that the real opportunity lies in branded podcasts.

“Custom-produced, editorially unbiased long-form storytelling that engages listeners and offers advertisers something are extremely rare. The chance to connect with people over a prolonged period of time. Think about it: If P&G could get a sizable audience to tune into a two-hour drama about shampoo and actually watch it and enjoy it, it’s the holy grail for an advertiser,” Cavet says.

“But the rub is that podcasts are expensive to produce, need to have a built-in audience within a topic relevant to a brand and overindex a bit as tech-centric. So for some brands — Microsoft, Mailchimp, eBay Sellers — it does make sense, but podcasts still have a chicken-and-egg problem in terms of audience size, targeting and production cost. It remains to be seen if the cadre of podcast operators can keep the hits coming, but that’s exactly what they’ll need to do in order to become a significant part of an advertisers media mix,” Cavet says.

New business models have emerged

As CEO of Market Domination, Seth Greene creates full marketing programs that are anchored with what he calls a strategic podcast. These interview-style podcasts feature strategically chosen micro-niche guests whose own audiences were likely to drive traffic back to his client.

Market Domination will also create a book from the podcast and create events to promote that book.

“There’s a shift with money leaving TV and radio,” Greene says. “For the next three to five years, it’s like the new ground floor of podcasting.”

Greene says that there’s no doubt that podcasting is just beginning to have explosive growth.

“There are a billion listeners, and that’s supposed to triple in the next few years. There’s a global proliferation of smartphones, and now the Podcast app is being installed in Apple Carplay,” Greene says.

Podcasts keep making their way into marketing strategy

“There is definitely a current trend for B2B and B2C companies to consider podcasts as a new element of their content marketing strategy,” says Wendy Buske, senior digital producer at advertising agency Rodgers Townsend. Buske also is podcast producer and co-founder of Nerd For A Living.

“From a marketing standpoint, there are numerous benefits to incorporating podcasts into the mix,” Buske says, adding that those benefits include reaching a nearly captive audience, bringing humanity into a brand and establishing thought leadership in the brand’s category.

“On the flip side, due to the growing influx of podcast content, it’s best for companies to consider why they want a podcast — and what it is that they can bring to the table that’s different and valuable to a potential audience,” Buske says.

Multiple streams of revenue can make podcasting more profitable

Amy Fitzgibbons is the vice president of marketing at representation agency Midroll. Midroll has diversified its hand in podcasting, producing original content, selling ads on well-known podcasts and operating its own platform. Midroll’s slate of clients includes Casper, Modcloth and Allstate.

“There’s a wide spectrum of ways for the advertiser to get into podcasting and reach the consumer,” Fitzgibbons says.

Fitzgibbons says she’s seen more interest at the brand level and expects that trend to continue.

“Podcasts are proliferating. There are a dozen new podcasts every day. You’ll see a little bit of consolidation, more brands will come in as a storytelling medium. In the last quarter we’re having conversations with brand advertisers on a growing basis,” she says.

Is it really a Golden Age for podcasting?

It definitely looks like it. But it’s also clear that we’ve only begun to explore the ways that podcasting can fit into an overall marketing mix. In the future, we should expect to see more brands get involved in the process, more innovation in the space and many more ways to monetize.

This article first appeared in

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About Author

Robin Kurzer

Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

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