Whilst podcasts are not new, their popularity has surged in recent years thanks to high quality shows such as Serial. The hit non-fiction podcast was broadcast in late 2014 and saw 75 million episodes downloaded after the first season aired.
Recent research from Edison revealed that 21% of adults in the US have listened to a podcast within the last month, up from 17% in 2015. There’s further research that backs this up – comScore and audio network Wondery recently released research which showed that 20% of US adults aged between 18 and 49 listen to podcasts at least once a month.
It’s not just true crime stories that are proving popular. A quick look at the podcast charts shows that football and comedy programmes are raking in listeners alongside educational programmes such as ‘Stuff you should know’ and ‘TEDTalks’.
Media titles including the Financial Times and The Economist understand this appetite for learning via podcast. They’ve each launched their own podcasts alongside business titans such as McKinsey whose insight-driven episodes include ‘China’s One Belt, One Road: Will it reshape global trade?’ and ‘How companies become digital leaders’.
Not only are businesses developing their own podcasts to cement their reputation as leaders within certain sectors, but they are also looking to advertise on relevant podcasts. US advertisers will spend an estimated $35m on podcast ads this year, up 2% compared to last year.
Some people believe that virtual reality (VR) can give podcasting a further boost in popularity. CCS Insight stated in an article on podcasting written by CNBC this week:
“We believe virtual presence will become an integral part of the VR experience in the coming years. Oculus has already demonstrated how VR headset users, in different physical locations, can see each other and interact with each other online.
“With this technology, we expect to see new podcast formats emerging which will enable users to fully immerse themselves in virtual environments, while the hosts and guests of the podcast have relevant discussions. For example the VR user will be able to explore prehistoric earth while being guided by the hosts, or sit at a table with historians in the trenches of World War I”.
With much talk about video being the future of online marketing (even Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will be mostly video by 2020) – is there still room for audio broadcasts? As smartphones, reliable WiFi and connected in-car entertainment systems are on a path to ubiquity, I don’t see why not.
Are you interested in getting on the podcasting wagon? Check out ZCast which will let you start a live audio recording from your smartphone or computer, broadcast a link to the session through Twitter and invite others to join. VR-supported podcasting may not be available yet, but watch this space…
Written by Harriet Chamberlain, Head of Digital (@HLChamberlain)