If you thought YouTube was just a video platform – well, think again…
What is YouTube up to?
In one way or another, podcasts have been part of my life now for nigh on a decade. I have always loved audio, and the catch-up benefits of podcasts appealed to me as a listener from the get-go.
Little did I know that soon enough, I would be on the other side of the fence, posting podcasts as a creator. Originally, they were of my radio shows, which in the purest form, I guess, are not really podcasts. They were recordings of live broadcasts.
But, since starting Talking Tech, and creating the Minus Sixteen podcasts, I count these as genuine podcasts. Talk and interview based, and generally kept to about an hour in duration. Perfect to consume on a daily commute or visit to the gym.
The beauty and popularity of podcasts, is the way we can get a ‘quick-fix’, in a bite-size hit, and a feeling of companionship. According to a recent report, there are over 950,000 podcasts and exceeding 30 million episodes available. And it’s profitable as well, with The Verge expecting the industry to be worth $4 billion by 2024.
Podcast players & apps have been part of our daily carry for almost 20 years now. There are loads to choose from, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, BBC Sounds, Podbean, and Overcast.
Seeing this growth, and the dynamic, changing times in the long and short form video market, YouTube are investing heavily to make sure they stay ahead of the podcasting curve.
The future is audio
Earlier this year, YouTube revealed plans to incorporate podcasts directly in to the YouTube experience. Soon, podcasters will be able to feed their shows to YouTube, via RSS from their podcast host. YouTube will offer audio only ads, and of course, a raft of analytics as well.
At first, it may seem odd to you that YouTube, the world’s largest video platform, is leaning in to audio podcasts, but on further examination, it makes perfect sense. YouTube has been keen to create a comprehensive base for all content made by creator’s. It will keep viewers, and now listeners, on their platform longer. By being on the platform longer, more ads can be placed, generating income for YouTube and the creators alike.
Some large creators have seen this trend developing. Marques Brownlee, for example, has established a stand-alone podcast channel to capitalise on it. The WVRFM podcast is available as an audio only version, or in a more traditional video format. The show was clearly designed, to be consumed as an audio podcast. Listening to it in audio form, you’d never guess there was a video of it too. The fact you can choose to then watch them sit and chat in the studio, just reels you in further still.
Streaming on YouTube is at an all-time high. As at 2020, YouTube had 77 million paying subscribers. It was partly based on these numbers that audio-only ads were re-introduced, in order to augment this growth.
And to further cement YouTube’s intent on becoming a serious player in this market, last October Kai Chuk was appointed as the first executive of the podcast division. This all came after a survey that was fielded to 1002 podcast listeners in the US aged between 18 and 69 to establish habits & listening trends. The feedback showed that 57.8% of those surveyed picked YouTube first as their podcast platform, followed by 53.6% that selected Spotify.
The survey also revealed that listeners engaged to ads better as live, in-show reads, over the pre-produced spots that we have accepted as the norm until now.
Getting in front of people
YouTube is the second most used social networking site after Facebook. Believe it or not, around one-quarter of the world’s population use YouTube every month. With that kind of audience, any smart podcaster needs to get their shows on the platform.
It has a unique ability to cross a huge age demographic, and of course, every interest is catered for too.
There are unique factors about podcasting on YouTube. Most podcast players don’t allow for comments or feedback. The YouTube community encourages that, though. This gives listeners a way better to interact with the creator and feel more involved and invested.
Sharing is front and centre of the YouTube experience, as we know. Many podcast platforms, such as Podbean, will allow you to download a show, but few will offer as many share options as YouTube. From there you can share to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram. And the more you share, the greater chance you have to get your podcast in front of a new audience.
YouTube has yet to confirm when the full-blown podcast division will launch. But, a helpful hint is that the term “partner-sold audio ads” is now part of YouTubes management vocabulary. This would suggest, that they are ready to make a march on audio podcasts, possibly, before the end of the year.
Dipping my toes
I first came across YouTubes interest in audio podcasts earlier this year – funnily enough, whilst listening to a podcast. One of the golden rules of growth is to put content where your audience, or a new audience, will find it.
The hard-work was already done. The guests had been found, research done, and editing the audio sorted. The file was sitting on numerous podcast platforms – Apple Podcasts & Spotify & for example.
I had to learn how to convert an audio MP3 file over to a video format, but thereafter, it was ever so straight-forward. The fact that listens have not been huge is not too much of a concern to me. There were other factors to consider.
My channel is opened up for more potential clicks, which all go toward my analytics and metrics. And, as importantly, I am ahead of a curve. If YouTube is serious about this, which they are, being one of the early adopters of audio podcasts on the platform can only be a good thing. I had even heard rumours that they are looking to financially reward creators who get on-board quickly.
There is no golden bullet with this content creation lark. I can testify to that. But, podcasting is one of the best methods to talk about something you enjoy or are passionate about.
You can talk freely and engage with your audience on a personal level. If you are thinking of starting a podcast, or already have one, then YouTube is one of the places you need to be.
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