Are Podcasts the next big thing in technology?

Mic drop
At a Glance

Podcasts have been around for more than a decade, but ever since the pandemic, their popularity has suddenly grown exponentially. Why have podcasts become a rage all of a sudden? And, why are SaaS companies going gaga over it?

Recent data states that approximately 162 million people listened to podcasts in the U.S. in 2021, equating to about 57% of the population. In 2010, this percentage was merely 23%. People prefer audio content over video content because they can listen to podcasts and other audio content while doing exercise and house chores.

The Billion-Dollar Opportunity

If there is one platform that has truly used podcasts to its full potential, it is Spotify. The audio streaming service now has 155 million paying members. It saw its total monthly user base increase by 27% year over year to 345 million, including those on its free, ad-supported tier.

“We are confident that podcast usage has been a factor in the accelerated net additions. We have increasing conviction in the causal relationship between growth in podcast consumption driving higher [value] and retention among our user base,”

Daniel Ek, founder, and chief executive of Spotify

Monetizing podcasts has not been easy, and it continues to be a challenge for specific streaming platforms. It is mainly because it’s difficult to calculate the ROI in podcast advertising. But Spotify has been working on this for a while, and it has raised its dominance in the podcast market with its “Streaming Ad Insertion” tool (SAI) and $235 million acquisition of ad tech company Megaphone.

“SAI leverages streaming to deliver Spotify’sSpotify’s full digital suite of planning, reporting, and measurement capabilities for Spotify original and exclusive podcasts”

Spotify about Streaming Ad Insertion tech.

Recently, Facebook has announced a new integration with Spotify that allows users to listen to and share music tracks and podcast episodes directly on Facebook without opening another app. 

Amazon Prime Music has announced the launch of podcasts in India in April 2021, free for all Prime members. Customers can now watch locally popular shows as well as international Amazon Originals.

Podcasting as a business, is it here to stay?

To monetize any platform, first, it needs to reach a large audience. Podcasts can only be monetized if their listenership base grows and the right target audience is identified. Patience and long-term strategic planning are required. Close monitoring of performance via analytics available to podcasters/creators will allow them to make adjustments in their content based on consumption trends.

There are multiple niches in the podcast business. A podcast can be about any topic; the podcaster must find their niche since the target market for a podcaster is vast. A podcaster’s market, in general, is anyone who listens to podcasts. People frequently drive, go for walks, or listen to podcasts on their smartphones. Listeners who are likely to make e-commerce purchases are incredibly profitable.

The Podcast Hurricane 

Journalist Ben Hammersly coined the term “podcasting” in a newspaper while writing an article for The Guardian in 2004. In his article, he talked about how amateur radio could be a massive boom in the future. All of the components were in place: blogging was popular, production software was inexpensive, and MP3 players were famous. But what should it be called? “Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?” And that’s how the term Podcast was born. It was the word of the year named by the New Oxford American Dictionary.

Podcasting was invented in 2004, when Adam Curry, a former MTV video jockey, and software developer Dave Winer created iPodder. This program allowed them to download Internet radio broadcasts to their iPods. Apple introduced native support for podcasts with iTunes 4.9 and introduced a dedicated Podcasts app on iPhones. It is when big tech companies started to realize the potential of podcasts. Seventeen years later, podcasts have become a household name.

How Podcasts can help grow your SaaS business?

A podcast is more than just talking; and it can be used to demonstrate that you are an expert in your field. Businesses can use their podcasts to speak authoritatively on topics relevant to SaaS to their audience. It can educate listeners about SaaS and how the products can help them achieve their objectives. Podcasts are a great way to promote SaaS differently.

There are many platforms to market your business and products, but with the vast amount of traction podcasts are receiving nowadays, more entrepreneurs are turning towards it. A podcast can educate listeners about a SaaS company and how its products can help them achieve its objectives. People who engage in business with a SaaS company would like to hear about their latest news or updates, so having a podcast channel will be adequate to strengthen your customer base.

Pandemic Influence on Podcasts.

In early 2020, nearly 212 million Americans knew about podcasts, a ten million increase year over year, and 55% of Americans had listened to a podcast. Addition to these year-over-year increases, the global usage of podcasts has increased by 42 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has increased the growth of podcasts. In the United States, 18 percent of adults said they have been listening to more podcasts since they began isolating and socially distancing themselves. There has also been significant growth among the Millennial and Gen Z generations.

In India, people have turned to podcasts now more than ever. During the pandemic, there has been a rise in applications like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. According to data, Spotify is the most widely used podcast listening app (31.2%), and Apple Podcasts is ranked second (31.1%).

In an interview, Ishani Dasgupta, Lead of Podcast Partnerships, JioSaavn, spoke about the rapid growth of the podcast industry in India. He said, “Podcasting, on the whole, has grown in India over the course of the pandemic. On the consumer end, screen fatigue, compounded with the need to stay informed, increase one’s knowledge, stay entertained, has motivated many to explore alternate mediums. Enter Podcasts. On the creator end, we have seen exponential growth in the number of independent first-time podcasters that are successfully creating content and among established media networks that are and adding podcasts as part of their content offerings. Even on the technology front, we have a lot more homegrown solutions for hosting and distribution of podcast content.”

Rob Walch, vice president of podcaster relations at Libsyn, a podcast platform that hosts more than 75,000 shows, predicted that older audiences would increase their listening when they return to their offices, presenting opportunities for podcasters who can target that demographic.

Summing up

Although Podcast is relatively a new media platform, it can reach wider audiences if used correctly. It will help your business grow as people naturally value conveniently accessible content and seek out easy ways to access it. Podcasts often show up in search engine results, making it even easier for your consumers to find you.

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