As the 2019 Canadian Podcast Listener survey notes, the global podcasting industry has exploded in the past five years. In Canada alone, nearly 11 million adults have listened to podcasts in the past year, and podcasting presents a $60-million opportunity in potential advertising revenue.
For those interested in where the industry is headed, three Globe Content Studio editors who produce podcasts attended the recent RAIN Summit on podcasting in Toronto. Here are three of their takeaways – and what we think you should know:
The power of power listeners
According to the survey, the 37 per cent of weekly “Power Listeners” account for three-quarters of the total weekly podcast hours consumed. They’re an influential group, and they’re incredibly engaged – they actively seek out ways to support their favourite podcasts and they are more likely to view advertisements favourably.
For example, 40 per cent of power listeners have provided direct financial support to podcasts they listen to through crowdfunding, attending live events or buying merchandise. This engaged group is more likely to connect advertisements with support for their favourite podcasts – 52 per cent of power listeners wouldn’t mind listening to a few more ads per episode if it were to help their favourite show continue its run.
Twenty-five percent of power listeners even go out of their way to reward brands that support their favourite podcasts. For this audience, loyalty runs deep, and brands benefit from the association.
Kiran Rana, Content Strategist, Globe Content Studio
What stops podcasting from gaining a larger share of advertising dollars?
I was surprised by the frankness of David Macdonald, vice-president and director of radio investments at agency group IPG Mediabrands Canada, who said advertising agencies can sometimes “be our own worst enemies.”
The way many agency contracts are set up, “we get a small fee and bonus if we are able to do [the same thing] for cheaper than what we did last year,” which means premium products such as podcasts require a staunch advocate – and that doesn’t always exist.
Podcasts are uncharted territory for many companies, and metrics technology has not fully caught up to the point of being able to measure audio the way it can measure other advertising formats. Until that gap is bridged, the growth of podcast advertising will rely on how well companies can be convinced to take a risk.
Stephanie Chan, Senior Editor, Globe Content Studio
Marketing a Canadian podcast internationally
I was interested to hear how the hosts of some of Canada’s popular podcast series were trying to market to an international audience. Does playing up the Canadian-ness help or hinder a podcast?
Kristi Lee, creator and host of the podcast series Canadian True Crime, has been faced with this challenge numerous times. She said labelling her podcast “Canadian” was a disadvantage for her when trying to get U.S. advertisers, which didn’t want to “touch” it.
But her decision to be overtly Canadian in her podcast branding was for SEO purposes. She thought audiences — no matter where they were located — would be able to find her series better when searching keywords such as ‘Canada’ and ‘true crime’ on Apple and Spotify, and they have. As a result, advertisers have followed suit.
Marketing a Canadian podcast internationally requires a thoughtful strategy, such as Lee helping audiences discover her work. Alan Cross, creator and host of The Ongoing History of New Music, said Canadian podcasters need to be a bit more risk-averse and stop asking ‘who else is doing it?’
“We’re slowly moving out of this,” he added.
Kristene Quan, Content Strategist, Globe Content Studio