Could podcasts be your next growth channel?

March 22, 2022

Thought about starting a podcast? You're not alone. 

1 in 10 Brits plan to start a podcast in 2022, according to data prepared by Acast, and 41% of UK residents age 16+ have listened to a podcast in the last month, according to The Infinite Dial 2021 UK.

Thought about advertising on a podcast?

54% of podcast consumers say that they are more likely to consider the brands they hear advertised on podcasts, according to Search Engine Journal.

Whether you are doubtful that podcast advertising can work for you, or you're producing a podcast for your business already and wonder if it's delivering value, you’ll learn heaps from our latest webinar, in collaboration with Mags Creative. We were joined by Hannah Russell, founder and CEO of Mags, who took our audience through some key considerations about using audio. 

  1. Why is audio growing so rapidly in the U.K? 
  2. How to get started with sponsored podcast content? 
  3. Things to consider before you embark on launching your on branded podcast. 
  4. Measuring your success.

Mags Creative makes shows for top-tier brands including Facebook, Google and Puffin, as well as working with commissioners including the likes of Spotify and Amazon Music. Their ethos is simple, in a world of meaningless scrolling, Mags believes in the power of meaningful audio.

So whether you’re thinking about sponsored podcast content as the next marketing channel to try, or you’ve wanted to create your own branded podcast for a while. There’s lots to learn from Hannah’s session. 

Read on for the key takeaways, or watch the whole session below.

Why audio?

First up, the stats. Audio is growing globally, but specifically here in the UK: 

  • 41% of the UK population listens to a podcast regularly.
  • 76% of UK listeners act on a podcast advert. 
  • Research shows a 30% higher average intensity to podcast ads compared to social media adverts. 
  • Podcast listeners earning 28% more on average than the general population.

Despite these impressive stats, podcasts often being categorised as “oversaturated”. The reality is that there are 3million podcast episodes world-wide, compared to the 149billion YouTube videos. Starting to reconsider your video budget? Maybe you should. However audio and video are two extremely complementary mediums, that if harnessed correctly, can drive powerful growth. Roughly 1 in 5 podcast listeners discovered podcasts through YouTube and Hannah commented that video is a core distribution and promotion channel for your podcast content. More on that later. 

So what about advertising? In the US, the podcast sponsorship market was worth $1B in 2021. And whilst the UK is a smaller market, the numbers are increasing rapidly. Data shows that last year £46M was spent on podcast advertising in the UK. What does this mean for marketers? Well crucially, it’s still affordable, and rather under-utilised. 

Podcast sponsorship and advertising. 

When it comes to sponsorship and podcast advertising, there are three main formats that you can explore: 

  • Host read advertising. The ads happen when a host, or sometimes a producer, endorses a brand or a product in an ad break at the start, middle or end of an episode. 
  • Spot advertising. Similar to radio-style advertising, these are usually scripted, voiced by actors, and get dynamically inserted across a number of different shows. Again you’ll hear these in an ad break at the start, middle or end of an episode. 
  • Cross channel deals. Cross channel deals happen when a brand identify hosts and shows that are aligned with their own values and they promote each other on the respective shows. 

As with any marketing campaign, the first question you need to ask before exploring podcast as a new channel for your business, is what’s my objective? 

Broadly speaking, there are three types of objectives you can achieve with podcast advertising:

  • Direct response 
  • Brand awareness 
  • Alignment with talent or cause

But what does this mean in practise? 

Objective 1: direct response:

For most D2C brands, the objective is usually direct response. This can mean, visiting a website, making a purchase or even just sharing a post on social media.  Brands looking for direct responses usually test different spot ads on multiple channels, which gives them a higher chance of their audiences taking action. Data from Podsights shows that buying both pre-roll and mid-roll ads works 43% better in terms of return on ad spend than a midroll ad alone. With spot adverts, you are able to reach more people, with an average cost of about £10-£15 CPN. 

Objective 2: building your brand: 

If you are looking to build your brand within a particular audience, you may want to look at a combination of both host read and spot advertising. This will give you a greater reach with the spot ads, solidified with some deeper partnerships with hosted advertising.

Research shows that host read advertising prompts have a 50% higher purchase and recommendation intent than other forms of podcast advertising. This style of advertising is particularly successful as the audience developed a relationship with the host, and has grown to trust them. 

Those slots tend to come out at around £35 CPM.

Objective 3: Alignment to talent or a cause:

For brands looking to align themselves with a specific host or channel, sponsorship deals are incredibly powerful. These usually include hosted advertising, but you can also look at deals that encompass things like social promotion, press releases and even some appearances. 

Through these partnerships, the audience sees your brand aligned with the host and hears about your brand across different channels and on multiple occasions. 

Top tip: Sign up to sites such as Podsights and Acast to get insights into how people are spending their money. These are extremely helpful, and you’ll be able to see what's working, what isn't, and get the information you need to pull and run a really effective campaign.

In terms of budget, the data suggests that you should be looking at around 400k to 800k impressions to understand if your ads are working or not. That means that if you’re looking at, for example, host read ads, you need to set aside around £14k as a starting point. If you have a smaller budget, Spotify is a great entry point, where the minimum spend is around £250.

Tips from Mags Creative on podcast advertising.

Creating a branded podcast. 

Podcasting isn’t right for every business. To establish whether launching your own is the right strategy for you, you should answer this, what you want to achieve with your podcast? 

The most common objectives are: 

  • Lead generation: building a podcast for your target audience can be a great way to reach new customers, drive brand loyalty and stay front-of-mind in a competitive market.
  • Alignment: podcasts can be a really powerful tool to get your brand aligned with specific audiences, and build those relationships. 
  • Brand building: podcasts can help you build brand awareness and loyalty, prompting important conversations and in some cases even aligning two brands together. 
  • Education: audio can be a fantastic channel to share information with your target audience and position your brand as a thought-leader in a specific space. 

Along with understanding your objectives, you should also spend time establishing: 

  • Who is your audience? What else do they listen to? Why do they want to listen to your show rather than someone else's show? 
  • What does the competitive landscape look like? Who else is succeeding in this space? What are they doing? How are they doing? And how can you differentiate yourself from them? 

From here, you’re in a great position to start crafting a concept where you should outline the podcast title, the description, and the first few episodes, based on a deep understanding of your audience, your competitors and objectives. 

The trifecta.

There are three things every podcast needs: content, consistency and longevity. 

We’ve already touched on the importance of content. You have ensure your concept is unique and specific to your target audience. But execution is equally as important. You need to make sure that no one switches off your podcast because, for example, the sound quality is poor. 

The second point is consistency. If you're going to do something, do it consistently. Whether it’s monthly or weekly, determine what the right frequency for your podcast is and stick to it. 

The third point is around longevity. Don’t look at podcasting as a quick win. Your podcast should be part of your long-term brand strategy. 

Take Steven Bartlett, for example. His podcast, Diary of a CEO, has been around for about 4 years, but it’s only in the last 12 to 14 months that he's seen the kind of exponential growth that led him to the top of the charts. This is down to content consistency and longevity. Plus in our opinion, some pretty amazing guests.

Measuring your success: 

There are key metrics you can use to determine how successful your podcast is. 

  • Downloads. Set a goal to help determine if the cost you’ve put into it is worth it. 
  • Listen through rate. Rather than quantity, this is going to give you a measure of the quality of the content that you're putting out there. 
Top tip: If people are only listening to 20 to 30% of your show, you probably need to revisit your content. If you’re towards 60 to 70 to 80%, then you know you’re in a happy position there. 
  • Weeks of engagement. This metric is about working out if your podcast is still discoverable after the first weeks. How long after the podcast is released are people still finding it?
  • Chart positions. This metric is often linked to engagement. If your audience is looking for your content consistently, that will have an effect on where you land on the charts. 
  • Number of leads. If your objective is lead generation, the number of leads that come through from the podcast is a metric to keep in mind. 

How to measure your success from Mags Creative.

What next?

The podcast industry is booming, and new trends continue to emerge. Mags predicts that over the next 12 months, we’ll start seeing some exciting new styles of audio like localised content, the ability to target listener based on their location; interview+, taking the much-loved interview style to the next level and further investment into docu-style content.  

There’s much scope to use audio as a successful growth channel, with the right focus, research and execution. If you want to learn more about Mags or how they can help you craft your audio strategy, visit their website here.

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March 22, 2022