The growth of podcasting

August 18, 2022

As we enter a new decade, we find ourselves immersed in a completely digital world. Our lives are flooded with different forms of content, shared across multiple platforms and mixed in with various forms of advertising. For brands and marketers, it can often feel like the online world has become saturated, and amongst the competition and the noise, it can be difficult to capture the attention of your target market and encourage them to engage with you.

As content gets shorter and shorter, with platforms such as TikTok and Instagram focusing on short digestible video snippets with only 10-30 second time frames, there is another older, wiser and less visual medium growing rapidly and quietly in the background, boasting attention spans of 40-50 minutes.

Over 7 million adults in the UK are now listening to podcasts every week with half of them having joined the podcast wave in the past two years. You may not have heard of podcasts, or have listened to them yourself, but I guarantee a close friend or family member is a regular listener. A few days ago a friend mentioned to me that he had only just found out that his fiance loves podcasts and listens to them daily in the car- yet they had never once mentioned the media to each other! 

A podcast is an audio show, typically available as a series, within a particular genre with a more specialised focus and niche. Podcasts can be digested on-demand and provide more in-depth content compared to radio shows. The most popular genres are comedy and entertainment followed by talk shows, news and sport

Whilst podcasting has roots going back to the 1980’s, the medium began to catch hold in late 2004 with the release of the iPod and portable audio devices. However the biggest boom has been since 2014, driven by smartphones, increased limits on mobile internet data and platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify, making the shows easily accessible by anyone, anywhere and at anytime. With on-going growth and development of virtual assistance speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, podcasts will continue to become more well-known and readily available in the 2020’s. 

Podcasting is also a medium that fits in with our modern-day world, as we continue to have busier lives. They provide the opportunity for people to learn, laugh, and keep up to date, whilst still going about their day, with many people listening in the gym, on their daily commute, at their desks or whilst cleaning the house. Things that aren’t easy to do whilst reading a book or watching a video. 

Personally I started listening to podcasts on my commute to work when I worked at a digital agency which was regularly experimenting with new technology. As I worked in the marketing team, I wanted to understand more about the technology behind what the developers were creating so I could get involved in meetings and showcase their work in the best way possible. My thirty-minute technology podcast kept me in the loop, as well as topped up my marketing knowledge on a daily basis, during an unproductive commute where I’d usually just listen to the radio.

Podcasting has created a new marketing opportunity for both brands and content creators. It’s a very intimate medium, as your audience is allowing you to communicate with them straight into their headphones, within their homes and their personal spaces. As the shows can be listened to whilst completing other tasks, 80% of people listen to all or most of the episode - whether it’s 20, 40 or 60 minutes long. Many choose the episode length to match the time of their journey or workout at the gym, so they don’t need to stop and change shows during their task. No other platform currently allows you to capture your target market’s attention for this length of time.

Furthermore, podcasting develops a high level of trust between listeners and brands. It’s easy to feel like you are friends with the host of a podcast, due to the relaxed format and the fact that you listen to their opinions and voice sometimes for over an hour a day. This is resulting in high levels of engagement for advertisers, with 76% of listeners acting on an ad or sponsored message they’ve heard in a podcast. 

Podcast engagement in America is huge, with 700,000 shows and 29 million episodes, and every generation listening and every celebrity jumping on board. It’s clear to see that the UK won’t be far behind. At the moment the market is unsaturated, with huge opportunities to gain, and no barriers to entry, so jump on board as soon as you can. Audio is a powerful tool that brands will not be able to avoid in their marketing plans in this new decade.

Here are a few of our favourites for you to have a listen too:

Zestology. Sky Sports presenter and author Tony Wrighton goes on a podcast adventure to find more energy, vitality and motivation. 

Have you heard George’s Podcast? George the Poet delivers a fresh take on inner city life through a mix of storytelling, music and fiction.

The High Low A weekly pop-culture / news podcast brought to you by Dolly Alderton & Pandora Sykes

The Digital Marketing Podcast interviews with global experts, together with the latest news, tools, strategies and techniques to give your digital marketing the edge.

Podcast Labs is a podcast production and marketing agency. We work with brands to create engaging audio experiences through podcasts, audio books and voice. Say hello:

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