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I Said "Yes, Yes, Yes" Because Podcasts Are Hot, Hot, Hot!

I got a call this week to participate in a podcast; I get calls like this from time to time. I usually find a reason not to participate in podcasts because I am usually on the road and my days are generally packed from early morning east-coast-time to late evening west-coast-time. This time, I said, ‘yes.’ As a result, I am sitting down later this month with Forbs West of the Media Industry Guru podcast. The podcast focuses on people in media, entertainment and technology and is oriented around how aspiring young professionals can best prepare for careers in the media business — that includes the all-important career pivot. West has sat with top media industry personalities like Jeffrey Godsick of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Bruce Murray at SiriusXM NFL Radio.

After I told West I would participate, I started to get introspective. Why did I say yes? Was it, simply, because West caught me at the right time and place? Was it, because the podcast is in my sweet spot: media and technology? Was it, because the podcast is geared towards young people, young professionals, who are trying to figure out what their next move is, or how to get started? Was it, because R2 Media is increasing its ad spending within, and adjacent to, podcasts and the performance metrics associated with those spends are encouraging? Was it, because my inbox is full of invitations to podcast events, from Pod Conf in Portland later this week, to the IAB Podcast Upfront in New York City in early May, to She Podcasts Live in Washington DC in late June, to Podcast Movement in Denver in late August? Why?

After thinking about this a bit, I concluded that I said ‘yes’ because podcasts are hot. In the roughly 20 years since the start of initial commercial services, podcasting has evolved from Internet curiosity to a mainstream form of episodic entertainment. The steadily growing audiences – more than 80 million Americans listened to at least one podcast in 2021, and the listener base is expected to exceed 100 million by 2024 – offer a unique advertising opportunity that fits within a growing number of omnichannel advertising programs.

Podcast ads are particularly effective at driving brand awareness – and affinity. Those spots, whether short- or long-form, drove a three-point increase in brand familiarity – and a five-point gain in affinity – according to Nielsen’s 2022 ROI Report for advertisers. Those gains were further enhanced with ads including a specific call to action – and even more when the copy was read by the podcast host. Implied host endorsement becomes an even more useful tool given the inherently segmented nature of podcasting. Most podcasts focus on tightly defined subjects (with interest-segmented audiences to match) which makes it easier to align advertising with pre-determined interests.

The behavior of podcast listeners compared with the general population also points to some unique advantages attached to that addressable audience: Podcast listeners, according to Nielsen, have returned to pre-pandemic activities – dining out, shopping in physical stores, gathering with friends/family – at higher rates than the general population. That makes them a particularly more convertible target audience for retail and location-based advertising.

So, I said yes, yes, yes, because podcasts are hot, hot, hot… and because the young professionals that are trying to figure out their next career move during these troubling economic times should know podcasts are hot, hot, hot. They should also know where other opportunities lie in media, entertainment and technology -- and I will do my best to shine a light on all of the bright spots. Young professionals are likely terrified by what is happening in the economy, right now. Perhaps, my appearance on this important podcast will help calm some nerves.


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