Branded storytelling has been a part of the fabric of media for years now. It was only a matter of time before it conquered the next frontier: podcasts.
Podcasts created by or in conjunction with brands—sometimes called branded podcasts, sometimes called original podcasts with brands—are gaining in popularity, and many of the major podcast production companies (Gimlet, Pineapple Street, Panoply) build them as part of their portfolio of work.
Here are five reasons why branded podcasts are gaining steam and may be the next big thing in marketing:
1. Podcasts are blowing up
Podcasts have been big ever since “Serial” changed the game back in 2014. But they’re more than just a buzzword: There are some big numbers behind podcasts that advertisers should pay attention to.
Listeners typically get through 85-90 percent of a podcast and don’t often skip commercials. NPR also found that listeners often take action on a sponsored message. As a result, advertising money is pouring into podcasting, which is as good a sign as any that people are listening and will likely continue to do so.
2. They’re like ads people want to hear
Branded podcasts bring actual value to the listener, which is something that marketing and advertising campaigns often struggle to do.
This quote from Melissa Locker’s piece at Fast Company put it best:
“No one wants to listen to a 10-episode podcast about how great ZipRecruiter is at finding a job or helping hire the right applicant,” says Lex Friedman, CRO of Midroll. “But if we can create a show with someone like entrepreneur and author Seth Godin about what it means to be successful… that’s going to appeal to exactly the kind of people that ZipRecruiter wants to reach.”
3. They allow brands to branch out
Check this out: McDonald’s has a branded podcast that they make with Gimlet (makes sense) and OnionLabs (that’s right—the satirical minds of The Onion are in on this one) about the company’s promotional run of Szechuan sauce in the ‘90s. It’s called “The Sauce.”
You wouldn’t typically associate McDonald’s with such an endeavor, but this kind of content doesn’t have to adhere to the brand’s traditional voice. A fun, engaging podcast of this nature can allow a company to show another side of itself.
4. Just because they’re branded doesn’t mean they’re not good
Branded storytelling is a far cry from second-tier content with product placement stuffed into it. Some of the biggest podcasts out there right now, from DTR to Slack Variety Pack to The Message, are exemplary and have raised the bar for the genre.
All a branded podcast means in 2018 is that it has the power (and pocketbook—because podcast production isn’t cheap) of a company that will be willing to invest fully in this endeavor.
5. They create deeper bonds with audiences
A 30-second television spot or Instagram ad is nice, but if a company has a larger message they want to convey, a podcast that tells a story over multiple episodes, or features recurring voices and characters, is a much better avenue. Listeners may move over and become customers based on the bonds formed over Spotify, PocketCasts, or wherever they get their audio fix.
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