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Podcasting in 2023 is huge – and why it’s about to explode!

Fresh from the London Podcast Show my mind is buzzing

The London Podcast Show 2023

Growth

Podcasts are big business make no mistake about it.

I am fresh back from a day at the annual London Podcast Show and it is clear that there’s a lot of energy around the platform right now.

You name them and they were there yesterday – RiversideFM, Spotify, BBC Sounds, Sony, Global, Amazon Music and even the Managing Director of YouTube Video for the UK & Ireland – Alison Lomax was there talking about the platform’s intentions for the future.

You see, ‘in my day’ podcasts were audio only, but over the past few years video podcasts have started to catch on and are now hard on the heels of their audio counterparts.

In just over six years the estimated number of podcast listeners has grown from 8.9 million to 23.3 million – and there is no sign of it slowing up either. The predicted number by 2026 is 28.1 million listeners. With numbers like that it is little surprise that advertisers are very attracted by getting into the action.

Video killed the radio star

In a recent survey in the US, one in three podcast listeners polled said YouTube was their preferred platform with Spotify & Apple coming in second and third.

Our culture of content consumption has naturally changed over the years. Podcasts have grown up to no longer be, well, just podcasts, but now more like full-blown shows. There was a lot of discussion about this yesterday.

Many speakers were quick to point out that the barrier to entry has never been lower – pretty much a smartphone, tripod and one cheap light and you are good to go. All that said, don’t be fooled though – the big boys are moving the goalposts – and rapidly.

As I just mentioned podcasts are becoming full-blown shows that have replaced our need to have TV-based chat shows any more. No longer do you have to wait on TV schedules to settle down and be whizzed off to a comfy sofa with your fave host – with YouTube you are in control of when you watch and consume content.

New frontiers

And with the rise of the video podcasts world comes new associated economies as well.

Until yesterday I had no idea that both the thumbnail economy and set-build economy were real, tangible and profitable things. It stands to reason though. As podcasts morph from audio form to video ‘productions’ the balance of power will have to shift. As any YouTuber will tell you the thumbnail and title play a massive part in your chances of being found, clicked on and watched. Getting those assets nailed is massively important.

Jordan Schwarzenberger, one of the directors at Arcade Media said at his company it was not unusual to have a team of creatives working for days on creating five or six thumbnails per episode. Then, looking at the metrics it’s not unusual to start swapping them out if they feel the video needs a new shot-in-the-arm to help gain traction

And although I mentioned that the barrier to entry can be low, with such high stakes at risk and so much competition – set design – the visual element is becoming more and more important. A great example of this is The Diary of A CEO with Steven Bartlett. Although simple, and for all we know it may well just be an Airbnb, it’s aesthetically pleasing, comforting, soothing and immediately makes you feel as if you are in the room with them.

And again with no schedule limiting you, if you’ve enjoyed one episode you can immediately click on the next, and next, and next and have yourself a lovely little binge session – which the YouTube algo happens to love.

Research indicates that newcomers to podcasts prefer visual, video podcasts. 47% of podcast consumers that came on board in the last year (can you call them listeners anymore?) said they favoured the video format to audio-only.

An advertiser’s dream

Josh Adley, MD of the multi-award-winning production agency Listen knows a thing or two about success in the podcast world and said;

“Two-thirds of podcast listeners are made up of 16-34-year-olds. It allows young people of the Netflix generation to listen to on-demand audio whenever they want… and gives them a chance to listen to shows on such a wide variety of topics.”

He also mentioned what a perfect fit long-form podcasts are for brands too. Podcasts tend to have a very high retention figure. It’s not untypical for 91% of ‘listeners’ to make it to the end of the show with over 80% interacting with brands that they hear mentioned on the show.

Also, with the nature of podcasts being so niche, tailored and intimate brands are able to dial into their perfect demographic. This is exactly why the uptake of listeners clicking through to brands they’ve heard on the podcast is so high. In the ‘old’ days of radio, the show could be about gambling addiction for instance but the next scheduled ad slot could be for an online gambling company – it’s a car crash for both parties. With podcasts though advertisers and brands can cherry-pick the perfect podcast to align with them. Say with a tech podcast like mine which has a 93% male demographic who are aged 35-45 it would be easy to find the right brand – shaving, cars or sports for example. Advertisers will get a big reward for getting themselves in front of the right audience. Minimum spend with a large ROI.

All formats

Video lends itself perfectly across all platforms too.

Jez Nelson was at the show yesterday onstage with Dr Karan talking about their new podcast together at Sony – The Referral Room. With the long-form video shot, creators can quickly and easily make clips from the show and get them on to Instagram, Twitter and possibly most importantly – TikTok.

Karan has over five million followers on TikTok, and all these short clips that those five million followers can see are all driven back to his main YouTube channel. TikTok is the quick, exponential grower while YouTube tends to be the organic, solid safe platform. While Tik Tok videos come and go, the long-form video content will always be there. It’s not unusual for a video to sit on the shelf for a year or more and then for some reason, it pops off and explodes. And then advertisers will come to you, your CPM will increase and…well you get the idea!

But the need to be across all platforms came over loud and clear yesterday – and video, way more than audio lends itself to that cross-pollenation.

The tools

And as the need to create video quickly and often remotely grows, so too does the need for tools to get the job done. If you have taken the time to research a guest, arrange a time and scheduled it, and possibly have advertisers lined up for it as well, the last thing you need is to lose an episode or have it recorded in poor quality. High-quality content is king.

And as the video-based podcast grows that is where a team like RiversideFM come in. Now you are no longer at the hands of your bandwidth, ISP provider or even the kids downstairs playing on their X-Box.

RiversideFM records locally on all sides. The peace of mind this offers cannot be undervalued. Even if the camera should drop during the recording, in the back end the results are perfect. It records in up to 4K and will give you separate 48K wav audio and hi-def video tracks for everyone.

In your RiversideFM studio, you can edit by text – an AI tool that is a game-changer, post directly to Spotify and even convert clips to make shorts ready for YouTube.

It’s affordable, reliable and a content creator’s dream. The fact that this tool, this app has been developed to such a high standard is another example of just how serious long-form video podcasts need to be taken. If RiversideFM is investing so heavily in the platform it only goes to show it is here to stay.

Wrapping up

The London Podcast show was full of energy and I came away from it buzzing and trying to take in just how much is going on in the whole podcast world right now.

With heavy hitters like Amazon, BBC, Sony and Global all present it says it all. Alison Lomax reminded us yesterday that they are about to add a podcast tab on the channel page of creators too. The benefit is that this will make it easier for fans to find their favourite shows and keep up with new episodes.

The carry away I got yesterday was that if you have a podcast you’d best be thinking about turning it into a video podcast soon. It’s an area of growth and it is still in its infancy.

If you are a podcaster, miss out on this chance at your peril. Get the box ticked quickly.

Lights, camera, mic – and action!

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