Beyond $1 Billion – What’s next for the Podcast Industry: Advertising Week

By Allison Kelsoe, Manager, Strategic Planning, Mindshare

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The podcast industry has grown immensely in the past year, with over 700,000 active podcasts covering various verticals and topics. As the industry nears the billion-dollar revenue mark, what challenges and opportunities face this evolving industry and how can brands play in this space? In the “Beyond $1 Billion: What’s Next for the Podcast Industry,” Mindshare’s Janet Levine, Leader, Invention+ sat down with speakers from Acast (who moderated), Right Side Up, and Complex Media to discuss this topic.

From the panel, key challenges facing the industry include:

  • Measurement. We need to move away from promo codes and vanity URLs and toward IP and pixel-based attribution. Nailing down the measurement piece is key for the industry to expand beyond DTC advertisers and engage brand advertisers. If the industry can show podcasts are a major attribution channel and not just incidental, it will bring new advertisers to the space and scale current advertisers tenfold.
  • Discoverability and personalization. The industry needs to make podcast discovery easier and more personal. There currently isn’t a tool to recommend new shows based on a listener’s previous listening choices and people must rely on word of mouth to discover new shows. We need to make it easier for daily podcast listeners to discover new content and show non-podcast listeners the wide variety of content that’s out there to bring them into a daily listening habit.

Opportunities for brands in this growing space include:

  • Developing a sonic identity. Podcasts shift brands from a visual world to a sonic world and brands need to be intentional about developing a sonic logo. A sonic logo helps brands come to life in the audible space. As podcasts grow and consumers are turning more toward listening than viewing, we will hear a brand before we see it, which is why brands need to start developing their sonic identities – something that we’re doing at Mindshare.
  • Live and experiential integrations. The opportunity for brands to integrate with podcasts beyond host reads and pre/mid-roll ads will grow as the industry develops. A perfect example of how a brand can integrate naturally with a podcast is one of Mindshare’s luxury clients. The team partnered with The Daily, the NYT’s podcast with more than a billion downloads, to bring the first ever bonus episode of The Daily to listeners. It was all about female empowerment and aligned perfectly with the brand identity. In the future, brands could activate around an important cultural moment by hosting a live podcast at an event or inviting multiple podcasters to talk about the same cultural moment. The opportunities are endless as podcasts become more integrated into culture.

The podcast industry is predicted to reach the billion-dollar revenue mark by 2021 and it’s easy to see why. Despite the challenges facing the industry, the growing number of podcasts available and wide variety of topics covered presents a unique and organic opportunity for brands to reach consumers in their everyday routines.