August 6, 2019

Joe Rogan and the Podcasting Brand Challenge

Tuesdays With Coleman

Yesterday you may have seen news coverage of our data about the Unaided Awareness levels of the leading podcast brands. Our press release covered the “sexy” part of our findings, specifically that Joe Rogan has the biggest brand in podcasting.

The less sexy, but far more important aspect of our findings pertains to what we’re learning about brand development in the podcasting space. Next week, my colleague John Boyne and I will be sharing more about what we have learned in our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” session at the Podcast Movement conference in Orlando , but in advance of that, we would like to add to the discussion around podcast brand development here.

At Coleman Insights, we are bullish about podcasting. It represents a great opportunity for the many talented content creators in the radio industry to leverage their expertise and expand it to a new growing platform, while also providing an opportunity for fresh, new voices to enter the audio entertainment space.

The ultimate success of the industry, however, will depend on its ability to build brands. By that we mean brands that are well-known, that are perceived as providing content that is compelling to large numbers of consumers and that are associated with attributes with which consumers want to affiliate.

To date, such brand building has been awfully slow.

While the sexy headline from the data we recently reached was about Joe Rogan, the bottom line is that only 14% of monthly podcast users are aware of Joe and his show, even though his podcast has been available for a decade. The more significant finding of our research, however, is that Rogan’s relatively low Unaided Awareness level dwarfs that of any other podcast. In fact, none of the four other podcasts that finished among the five best-known in our research—Serial, The Daily, This American Life or My Favorite Murder—achieve Unaided Awareness levels above 6%.

In fact, our research finds that podcast users are about as likely to mention a platform or a category when asked to name podcasts as they are to mention a “big” podcast brand like Serial or The Daily. For example, 5% of podcast users mention NPR when asked to name a podcast; 4% of them say “music” and 3% say “sports.” A parallel here would be to ask people who use streaming television to name shows and have them answer Netflix or Hulu instead of Stranger Things or Orange Is The New Black.

Podcasting Unaided Awareness

By contrast, in most research we conduct with radio listeners, it is not unusual for individual station brands to exceed Unaided Awareness levels of 50% or more. One can certainly argue that most of these radio brands have multi-decade head starts on podcasts when it comes to brand building, but such an argument misses the point. No matter how great a podcast’s content is, its ability to attract an audience will depend on people knowing about it and having—at a minimum—the “big idea” of what the podcast stands for in their minds.

How does a podcast build a brand? We hope you can join John and me at Podcast Movement next week when we share how applying Outside Thinking can make that happen.

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