july 2023

Podcast: a temporary trend or the future of audio advertising?

Podcast, a growing market

“Podcast” is one of today’s buzzwords and it’s an asset more and more companies, experts and content creators turn to. Let’s draw up an overview of the opportunities and problems it brings.

A trend from the pandemic

Born in the 2000s, the podcast market has experienced an unstoppable growth over the last few years, with a significant push from the pandemic and the increase in digital content consumption.

Even though in the post-pandemic phase the surge of new podcasts has lowered (1.1 million titles launched in 2020 versus 219,000 in 2022), today’s data reflect the bigger role podcasts play in our consumer habits.

In Italy in 2023 podcasts reach 16.4 million listeners in total, rising from the previous 13 million in 2021.

Today, in the 18-64 range, 24% state they consume this genre of content at least once per month.


Some issues

Despite this huge success, podcasts have some limits.

First of all, the difficulty to find an appropriate business model: subscriptions don’t seem to appeal to consumers and the audience is not big and frequent enough to justify the creation of a specific advertising market.

The only method of monetization that works comes from branded podcasts, audio products created and sponsored by a brand. However, they struggle to stand out in a library where most of the audience is concentrated on a handful of hit products.

The most successful podcasts are those that can rely on a solid brand reputation like newspapers, news pages and personalities already known on other channels. Another popular genre is unscripted interview podcast, where the guest’s notoriety and fanbase push the audience to listen.

Other obstacles come from the characteristics of the medium like the impossibility of audio content to appear on organic search through keywords and the forced linear fruition, an old-fashioned way for an audience accustomed to new digital media.


The most popular platforms to listen to podcasts Source: Morning Consult



The era of video podcasts

To this last problem, the solution comes from video podcasts. This category is getting ahead of the game, with Youtube establishing itself as the go-to platform also for podcast fruition (and discovery).

The reasons behind the popularity of the video format lie in its bigger ability to engage consumers thanks to facial expressions and gestures that help understand the context and the emotions of the participants; in the opportunity to leave the video playing in the background while focusing on other activities or to browse it according to what we see on the screen; and, lastly, in the virality of short clips shared on social media to promote the full content.

Youtube is also at the forefront for its recommendation algorithm and its ability to drive to podcasts even those users who are on the platform to watch classic videos.


Is opening a podcast a good move for brands?

Nowadays, the podcast market releases more titles than the effective demand. Launching a podcast just to jump on the bandwagon could also turn out to be detrimental, considering the expenses in time, money and effort necessary to create a quality content able to spark interest.

Brands need to consider whether their podcast has something different to say and can appeal to the public, while keeping in mind that it could be an important resource to add value and increase brand reputation, in addition to strengthening the connection with an existing community.