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In the past 12 months the popularity of podcasting has grown exponentially. Data shows more and more of us are listening to podcasts as a means of entertainment, infotainment and news.

The power of podcasts came to the fore in late 2018 when The Australian investigative journalist Hedley Thomas was recognised for his series The Teacher’s Pet unearthing new information that ultimately led to Chris Dawson being charged for his wife’s murder 30 years after her disappearance.

In Australia, an estimated 18 percent of the country’s population over the age of 12 can be considered monthly podcast listeners, according to Edison Research’s Infinite Dial Australia study. The biggest podcast penetration is among the 18-34 demographic. Most people listen to an average of five podcasts per week – primarily in the car.

This popularity has not been lost on savvy advertisers who are turning to podcasts as a new platform to reach consumers. And while the majority of podcasts are free to download now, expect premium content to soon be placed behind a podcast paywall – just as we’ve seen with online news and TV shows.

So how can we use podcasts as an effective means of communication in our own PR mix?

Hunter’s top podcast tips:

  • What is the objective of investing this time and money into a podcast – treat it as you would any other PR investment.

  • Identify your target market.

  • Don’t make them a blatant advertisement for your business.

  • Production quality must be good – invest in a studio and high quality recording equipment.

  • Promote them to generate an audience – otherwise how will anybody know about them?

  • Make sure your content is interesting, engaging and has a point of difference to other podcasts

  • Release regularly (weekly) and in a series.

What’s Behind Podcast Growth and Why It’s Expected to Continue

Podcast growth is a virtuous cycle and aligns with important trends:

  • It’s perfect for on-demand, content binge consumption, which users have become accustomed to from other media.

  • It’s perfect for customised/personal curation. You listen to what you want, when you want.

  • As the audience grows, there’s more incentive for quality content producers and celebrities of all types to jump in with their own shows, which in turn attracts more listeners. This includes a wide variety of A-listers like Dr. Phil, Jonathan Van Ness, Katie Couric, Ricky Gervais, Gwyneth Paltrow and RuPaul.

  • Ad revenue is growing rapidly, which in turn attracts higher cost talent and quality production to the format. Element Media Direct estimates growth rates in podcast ad revenue of +72% in 2016 vs 2015, +85% 2017 vs. 2016, +80% 2018 vs. 2017, and +50% 2019 vs. 2018.

  • With an average of only four minutes of advertising in an hour versus 16 for TV, there is less annoying ad clutter and less reason to try to ad block, or leave to do something else while the ad is running.

  • Podcast CPM's average $24 according to Bridge Ratings. While these aren't low relative to other media options, the ROI must be positive, judging by repeat usage of the platform by more and more brands.

Why Podcast Listening Is Expected to Keep Growing

  • Going forward, many new cars (where a lot of podcast listening happens) will have internet connections, making the podcast download process much quicker.

  • There will be a podcast button on your mobile phone and computer that can synchronize with your car’s internet or Apple Watch so if you start on one device, you can continue where you left off with another.

  • Apps on devices will make podcast listening easier and quicker to access. You’ll be able to more easily access them from @ handles on Twitter and hashtags on TV.

  • Growth in Alexa, Google and Siri voice recognition will also make accessing podcasts easier and widespread.

  • The new Apple watchOS5 brings Apple’s podcast app to the watch for the first time and the speaker is louder, which will make it easier to hear and more satisfying to listen to podcasts.

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