Tag Archives: podcasting

Blue Ocean Strategy for Podcasting

Coleman Insights founder Jon Coleman introduced Blue Ocean Strategy to Tuesdays With Coleman blog readers late last year in “Should Radio Go Back to Normal.” In short, brands that find themselves in heavily competitive crowded market segments are in metaphorical shark-infested, blood-laden waters. Hence, Red Ocean. On the other hand, some brands have established unique points of market differentiation in the minds of the consumer. This clear lane is the Blue Ocean. A few months ago, it struck me that podcasting resembles a Red Ocean in a number of ways. It is dotted with millions of shows whose names, logos, hosts, structure, and production sound similar. I wondered if there was an opportunity for podcasters to apply Blue Ocean techniques that brands in other market segments have successfully used to differentiate and make the competition irrelevant. That’s how the idea of my presentation, “Create A New Lane: Using Blue Ocean Strategy To Get Your Podcast Noticed,” which I shared at the Podcast Movement conference in Nashville last week, began.

As Jon pointed out in his December blog, Blue Ocean Strategy may have value for underperforming radio stations. Is it better to live in the shadow of a dominant competitor or blaze your own trail? When, for example, a station in your cluster is the third highest-rated CHR or second highest-rated Country station, is it more strategically advantageous to choose an untapped or underserved lane?

One way to look at available opportunity in podcasting is by reviewing the number of shows in each category in Apple Podcasts. For example, the general Science category has over 30,000 shows. Chemistry, a subcategory of Science, has only about 900. Should you publish a general Science podcast that may cover Biology in one episode, Physics the next, and Chemistry the next…or do you publish one that focuses specifically on Chemistry, hyper-targeted to those interested in the topic?

Chemistry podcasts

The Chemistry category contains about 900 podcasts, compared to over 30,000 in the general Science category

The Religion category is a massive Red Ocean, with over 150,000 shows. Christianity is a subcategory of Religion but is its own Red Ocean at over 90,000. Yet Hinduism, observed by 15% of the world’s population, represents less than two percent of the Religion category. Not to mention that India is the third largest podcast listening market. Whereas Religion and Christianity are Red Ocean, Hinduism is Blue Ocean. The most underserved categories? That belongs to swimming and volleyball, at only about 130 shows each. Total. As James Cridland of Podnews likes to say, “If you can’t rank in the Top 150 for swimming, you’re doing it wrong.”

Swimming is one of the most underserved categories in podcasting

This Red/Blue Ocean exercise can also apply to topics as opposed to categories. The Golden State Warriors are a hugely popular NBA franchise. If you search for “Golden State Warriors podcast,” Google’s algorithms will offer you many suggestions of shows that cover this topic. But do the same thing for “Stephen Curry podcast,” and you’ll find none. Zilch. Zero. But Google will recommend a golf podcast. Curry is one of the most popular athletes of all-time, yet there is seemingly no podcast focused on him. If you launched both today, which would have a better chance at acquiring new listeners? A general Warriors podcast amongst a sea of established Warriors podcasts or a Steph Curry one? The Golden State Warriors are Red Ocean. Stephen Curry is Blue Ocean.

Stephen Curry Podcast

A Google search for “Stephen Curry Podcast” shows a wide open Blue Ocean opportunity

Apply this exercise to your content, as a sales consultant that attended my session did. He explained to me that his podcast offers broad sales advice. The name of his show implies broad sales content. Now, he’s thinking about how to focus his show. He’s considering his target listener. Is it C-suite level? Sales managers? What market segment? A company that sells software for used car dealers has a podcast called – you guessed it – The Used Car Dealer Podcast. It’s a great brand building and lead generating show for them, though they wisely don’t use the show as a commercial. A podcast for car buyers (or even car dealers) is Red Ocean. A podcast for used car dealers is Blue Ocean.

When deciding to adopt Blue Ocean Strategy for your podcast, it’s important to remember you should not just pick a category or topic because it is underserved or narrowly focused. The content still has to be great. You must have a level of expertise, and put in the research and the work to make it so. But if you do, and the category or topic are Blue Ocean, you are increasing your chances of success.

Finally, it’s important to remember that Blue Ocean strategists don’t differentiate with just one thing. The greatest Blue Ocean brands differentiate in multiple ways. That means thinking about all the things podcast listeners see when they search for shows. The thumbnails look alike. The descriptions sound the same. The structure and production value is similar. Make a list and consider how you would Blue Ocean each item. The show name. The logo. The description. The sound. The host. The category. The topic. And so on.

Next stop: Blue Ocean!

The Year Ahead, Part 2

Tuesdays With Coleman

This is the second of our two-part blog series focusing on a roundtable discussion about the impact of 2020’s upheaval on the audio entertainment industry. Last week’s post focused on what the social justice movement, the election, and the pandemic meant for how people consume and what they want from audio entertainment.

In this second installment, our Senior Consultants—Warren Kurtzman, John Boyne, and Sam Milkman—share their thoughts on nonmusical content, podcasting, and the need for thoughtful innovation.

Coleman Insights Senior Consultants (L-R) Sam Milkman, Warren Kurtzman, and John Boyne

WARREN KURTZMAN:

This was already true to some extent before all of 2020’s craziness, but we enter 2021 with the sense that the margin for error is slimmer than ever. Hyper fragmentation and democratization of the media was already making it challenging for audio entertainment brands to cut through; now with economic uncertainty and so much of what we’ve always known to be true about how and why consumers use audio entertainment potentially changing, every client we work with really must get things right as often as possible.

JOHN BOYNE:

Personality content is going to be more important; there is a race to create unique unduplicatable content that is happening in radio, with podcasts, and even the streaming platforms focusing on this, too.

WARREN KURTZMAN:

We used to talk about how crucial developing nonmusical content was for radio, but now it’s vital for all audio brands. And it’s not just about the brand value of personalities; developing unique, compelling personality content is expensive, and understanding the behavioral impact personality content can have—whether it drives consumers to use an audio brand—is going to be more important as audio companies make ROI decisions on this content.

SAM MILKMAN:

As personalities become a bigger part of the strategy of almost every audio brand, how do you make sure that you are truly reflecting what your audience wants both in terms of content and tone?  For example, we saw many Hip Hop radio morning shows adapt to the heaviness of 2020 with less of a focus on comedy and celebrities and greater emphasis on social issues.

JOHN BOYNE:

It’s important to have great talent and unique content, but more than ever, our clients are demanding more sophistication in the development and execution of that talent and content. That’s where qualitative research and content testing are becoming a bigger and bigger part of our business.

WARREN KURTZMAN:

Right, John. That’s where the discussion about the Hip Hop shows Sam mentioned continues. Many shows adjusted their content based on the gut instincts of some very talented hosts and producers who are successful because they are in touch with the audiences they serve. But now, they must refine what they offer. Have all of these shows got the balance between entertainment and issues exactly right? Are they truly reflecting what the audience wants from them right now and will that change over time? Will it be different when we’re no longer in a presidential election year or after the pandemic ends?

SAM MILKMAN:

I think this extends well beyond radio morning shows. Our podcasting clients are going to need to get a handle on how their audiences are responding to their content if they want to keep growing.

JOHN BOYNE:

There’s so much room for growth with podcasting. We don’t know what the ceiling will be.

SAM MILKMAN:

Let’s stop treating podcasting like it’s a nascent category; it’s part of the lives of so many people.

JOHN BOYNE:

Yet there are still so many people who haven’t tried it yet.

WARREN KURTZMAN:

But it is now a big business. Look at how companies like iHeartMedia, Spotify, Entercom, Amazon, SiriusXM, etc. have snatched up podcasts and podcasting companies. That’s happening because it’s growing and starting to generate revenues in a big way.

SAM MILKMAN:

Which is my point. We anticipate doing more and more research for podcasters who recognize they’re in a big business. They need to measure the health of their brands, and they need to do content testing to see what works and doesn’t work with their audience.

WARREN KURTZMAN:

All three of us having been doing this for a long time, and as I reflect on that, it’s striking how much more complex and challenging things are than when our business almost exclusively consisted of perceptual studies and music tests for radio stations. It’s invigorating and I know all three of us—in fact, our whole team at Coleman Insights—can’t wait to get to work on exciting opportunities for our clients in 2021.

JOHN BOYNE:

Every time we turn over the calendar to a new year, it makes me think of thoughtful innovation. This may be truer this year, as we emerge from the pandemic and look for new opportunities. We do a lot of research on how consumers feel about and perceive things that exist; I’m hopeful that 2021 will include more work on innovations that audio companies could potentially offer to listeners.

SAM MILKMAN:

Agreed. This harkens back to many of the points our founder Jon Coleman made in his “Should Radio Go Back To Normal?” blog post in December. I hope that many of our clients pursue Blue Ocean Strategy ideas in 2021 and that we have many opportunities to provide them with the insights they need to make those ideas succeed.

 

 

Coleman Insights to Present Outside Thinking for Podcasts Webinar

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 20, 2019 – Coleman Insights will offer a webinar for the broadcast and podcast industry that introduces a breakthrough strategy called “Outside Thinking,” and details specific ways to apply the strategy to podcasting to build stronger brands.

In this webinar, attendees will learn to view podcasts from the perspective of the listener and understand what behavioral factors influence their decision to consume it. In addition, presenters Warren Kurtzman and John Boyne of Coleman Insights will share headlines from a recent Coleman Insights podcast research study.

Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman says, “While at Podcast Movement, we couldn’t help but sense podcasting approaching a tipping point. We’re excited to offer this content to those who couldn’t make the conference presentation, and hope everyone interested in building podcasts into strong, memorable brands joins us for this webinar.”

Kurtzman and Boyne will present “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” Thursday, September 12 from 2 PM-3 PM EDT.

Registration is now open for the webinar here.

Seven Solutions for the Podcasting Brand Challenge

Tuesdays With Coleman

If you read the last two installments of Tuesdays With Coleman, you are aware of the brand-building challenges that exist in the podcasting space. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Joe Rogan is the biggest brand in podcasting, but that only 14% of monthly podcast listeners are aware of him on an unaided basis. Last week, we revealed new podcast research that indicated none of the top 20 most-listened-to podcasts are familiar to at least half of all monthly podcast listeners.

None of this is terribly surprising given the nascent and highly fragmented nature of the medium. Nonetheless, for any podcast that seeks out mass appeal success, building a brand is a necessity.

Fortunately, there is a route to building strong podcast brands, as my colleague John Boyne and I shared in our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” presentation at last week’s massive Podcast Movement conference in Orlando. The first step on that route is to recognize that if you are engaged in podcasting, you need to go beyond content creation and think like a marketer. If you do, you will take an Outside Thinking approach to the medium and recognize that (a) you must teach people about podcasting, (b) combining great content with strong branding is crucial for success and (c) such success is not measured by download or listener counts but by having satisfied listeners.

Coleman Insights presenting at Podcast Movement

John Boyne and Warren Kurtzman presenting “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” at Podcast Movement

This means that you need to go beyond telling listeners, “Download wherever you get your podcasts,” and be more specific about where they can get your content. Your podcast’s website should go beyond that and provide step-by-step instructions for finding, downloading and listening to your podcasts.

Here are seven ways to build your podcasting brand:

 

  1. Have your elevator pitch down.

If you can’t succinctly articulate what your podcast is about, why people should listen to it and what differentiates it from other podcasts, it will be very difficult to build a brand. Once you do have that pitch, be sure to communicate it frequently, even to your existing listeners.

Another way to think like a marketer is to:

 

  1. Give your podcast a memorable name.

Your podcast needs to stand out among the more than 700,000 active podcasts competing for listeners’ attention. Does your podcast have a name that is searchable and memorable? If not, change it.

Building a strong brand also necessitates taking advantage of the fact that podcasting is an aural medium; great audio brands have their own unique sound and feel. Some of the best ones:

 

  1. Use jingles and other mnemonic devices that help consumers remember them.

Beyond jingles and mnemonic devices, there are things you can do with your podcast’s content that help with brand building. One is:

 

  1. Utilize a consistent structure.

This is important because meeting consumer expectations is crucial to building a brand, a reality for virtually every category of products and services. Examples of such consistency include making sure that your podcast follows a regular release schedule and having the flow of your podcast’s content follow a similar pattern with each episode.

Taking this a step further, your podcast should:

 

  1. Utilize benchmarks, recurring segments or features.

Think along the lines of David Letterman’s signature “Top Ten” lists or Jimmy Fallon writing “Thank You Notes” every Friday night.

Another content-based practice that helps with the brand building process is to:

 

  1. Make sure your topics are on target.

The topics you cover on your podcast should be not only of interest to your target audience but also aligned with what they expect from you. This does not mean that you can never deviate from those expectations, but when you do, you better make sure your content execution is outstanding.

 

Finally, we should not ignore that even if you think like a marketer and have all these things—a strong elevator pitch, a searchable and memorable name, mnemonic devices, consistent structure, benchmarks and on-target topics—your podcast’s ability to build a strong brand will require that you:

 

  1. Advertise your podcast.

Don’t despair, however, if your budget won’t allow for billboards in Times Square or television spots during the Super Bowl. A good marketer recognizes that there are many ways to get the word out about a product or service beyond traditional media advertising, with social media (paid and organic), being promoted on other podcasts, endorsements, cultivating reviews, your own website, search engine optimization, content marketing and public relations all representing other options for building a brand.

 

If you weren’t in the audience in Orlando (or you loved our presentation so much you want to see it again!), I’m happy to announce that Coleman Insights will host a free webinar at 2:00 PM EDT on Thursday, September 12th, when John and I will re-present “Outside Thinking for Podcasts,” which will cover many of the suggestions above in more detail. Click here to sign up for the webinar today!

The Podcasting Brand Challenge, Part 2

Tuesdays With Coleman

Last week, I wrote about one of our findings from a podcast research study we recently fielded with a nationally-representative sample of 1,000 18- to 64-year-old American monthly podcast listeners. The headline referred to how Joe Rogan is the biggest brand in podcasting, as The Joe Rogan Experience enjoys a level of Unaided Awareness that is more than twice that of any other podcast.

The flip side of that proclamation is that—at 14% Unaided Awareness—Rogan’s brand isn’t that big. This is because of the nascent state of podcasting and the incredible fragmentation of the medium. With current estimates stating that there are more than 700,000 active podcasts available, building a strong brand in this space continues to be a huge challenge.

Yesterday, we released additional findings from our study that provide a different perspective on branding. Prior to fielding our podcast research in May, we gathered the latest available top 20 most-listened-to podcasts list from Podtrac from March and asked respondents about the top-ranked podcasts on an aided basis. Stunningly, not even one of them was familiar to at least half of monthly podcast listeners, with TED Talks Daily leading the pack at 43%. The only other podcasts that were familiar to at least 30% of the study’s respondents were The Daily, TED Radio Hour and The Ben Shapiro Show. Perhaps even more striking is that some of the podcasts on the top 20 list—Hidden Brain, Up First, The Moth and Invisibilia—are familiar to between only 8% and 12% of monthly podcast users. (Note that The Joe Rogan Experience does not participate in Podtrac’s measurement and therefore we did not test its Aided Awareness.)

We share this data not to criticize podcasters, but instead to make sure they open their eyes for the need to build brands. Without well-known strong brands with which many consumers want to affiliate, few podcasts will attract large, loyal audiences. This is a tremendous task given the previously-mentioned fragmentation of the industry—as making a podcast stand out in an incredibly crowded marketplace is very difficult to do—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary to accomplish.

My colleague John Boyne and I will share ideas on how podcasts can build brands when we deliver our “Outside Thinking for Podcasts” presentation this week at Podcast Movement in Orlando. We will talk about how even if content creation is your forte, looking at your podcast from the outside perspective of a good marketer is crucial to building a successful brand. This will include tips about helping listeners find your podcast and things you can do with the content of your podcast that will facilitate brand building.

This latter point is important because brand building does not have to completely depend on marketing activities like advertising and search engine optimization. In fact, as we often cite with our Brand-Content MatrixSM, success is most often derived through the delivery of content that provides a great “in the moment” experience for the listener and reaffirms what they expect from your brand.

Brand Content Matrix

In our presentation, John and I will talk about how memorable brand names, structure, mnemonic devices and benchmarks can help to overcome the many obstacles that stand in the way of building great podcasts.

We hope you can join us at Podcast Movement this week…almost as much as we hope the air conditioning in the Rosen Shingle is up to the task of Orlando in August!

Coleman Insights Finds TED Talks Daily Leads Awareness Among Top Podtrac Ranked Shows

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 12, 2019 – New research from Coleman Insights reveals that TED Talks Daily has the highest Aided Awareness of the 20 most-listened-to podcasts as ranked by Podtrac in March 2019. Despite being the most recognized, only 43% of monthly podcast listeners are familiar with the TED Talks Daily podcast.

The study of 1,000 18 to- 64-year-old monthly podcast listeners conducted in May 2019 asked respondents to review a list of the March ranking of the Podtrac Top 20 Podcasts and indicate their familiarity with each. The TED brand occupied two of the top three spots, with The Daily coming in second at 35% and the TED Radio Hour at 32%. There is a significant gap between the most and least familiar of the top 20 Podtrac-ranked shows, as Invisibilia is familiar to only 8% of monthly podcast listeners.

According to Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman, “Our findings reaffirm the idea that despite podcasting’s growth, the medium still has a long way to go with brand development. Even with the most-listened-to shows, most active podcast users aren’t familiar with them. The ones they are familiar with are big, cross-platform brands with strong marketing behind them.”

Listeners between the ages and 25 and 44 are more likely to be familiar with the Top 20 shows than are 18- to 24-year-olds or 45- to 64-year-olds. Furthermore, Coleman Insights finds that male podcast listeners are more likely than females to be familiar with the Top 20 Podtrac shows.

These findings are different from those released by Coleman Insights last week, which focused on Unaided Awareness of podcast brands. The top-ranked show in Unaided Awareness, The Joe Rogan Experience, does not participate in the Podtrac rankings and was therefore not included in the Aided Awareness measurement.

Coleman Insights will discuss the implications of its podcast research findings in a presentation at Podcast Movement, to be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. The session, “Outside Thinking for Podcasts”, is set for Wednesday August 14th at 9:00 AM as part of the conference’s Industry Track.

Joe Rogan and the Podcasting Brand Challenge

Tuesdays With Coleman

Yesterday you may have seen news coverage of our podcast research 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 podcast research 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 podcast 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 podcast 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.

Podcast Movement Reveals Industry Track

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, June 26, 2019Podcast Movement, the annual gathering of the podcast industry, has announced the sessions for this year’s Industry Track, presented by media research firm Coleman Insights.

This year’s track will feature sessions that focus on helping podcasts improve in the areas of branding and content. The opening session, “Outside Thinking for Podcasts,” is set to kick off the track at 9am on Wednesday, August 14th, hosted by Warren Kurtzman and John Boyne from Coleman Insights. The session will combine surprising headlines from a recent Coleman Insights podcast study and introduce attendees to a breakthrough strategy called “Outside Thinking”. This strategy will allow podcasters to better understand what behavioral factors influence the decision to consume their shows.

Other sessions include a look at remote audio data with Stacey Goers from NPR, guidance on selling in a platform world with John Fitzgerald of ESPN, a “Celebrities in Podcasting” panel hosted by Perry Michael Simon from All Access and a “State of Podcasting” overview from Podcast Hall of Famer Elsie Escobar.

Coleman Insights President Warren Kurtzman says, “We’re looking forward to hosting the Industry Track again this year and delivering content that can help attendees make their podcasts more successful.”

Podcast Movement is set for August 13-16, 2019 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Registration is now open.

About Coleman Insights

Coleman Insights, headquartered in Research Triangle Park, NC, with offices in Philadelphia and Hamburg, Germany, is a firm that has helped media properties build strong brands and develop great content since 1978. Its clients include hundreds of media properties in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, including those owned by iHeartMedia, Entercom Communications Corporation, Bonneville International Corporation, Hubbard Radio, Educational Media Foundation, Stingray Radio, Emmis Communications, SummitMedia, Salem Communications, Connoisseur Media, Corporación Radial del Perú, Service Broadcasting Corporation, CRISTA Media, and Townsquare Media. Additional information about Coleman Insights is available at www.ColemanInsights.com.

 

Coleman Insights to Present Webinar on Podcast Listening Behavior

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, August 28, 2018 – Coleman Insights will offer a webinar for the broadcast and podcast industry detailing the results of an actual mediaEKG® Deep Dive study on two popular iHeartRadio podcasts. The insights will cover “The Ben and Ashley I Almost Famous Podcast,” featuring former stars of ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise, and “Business Unusual with Barbara Corcoran,” hosted by the real estate mogul, bestselling author and “Shark Tank” star.

By the end of the session, attendees will grasp the “Three Ts of Content Execution” and how each can play a role in content development. You’ll gain an understanding of how audiences feel about the content and why they feel that way. This session is designed to help podcasters and broadcasters create better, more focused content that produces more engagement and increases listening.

Coleman Insights Executive Vice President John Boyne says, “We’re thrilled to offer this presentation to those who didn’t get the chance to see it at Podcast Movement. Podcasters and broadcasters should find the insights useful for understanding in-the-moment podcast listener behavior for two shows with very different content.”

iHeartRadio SVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson said of the original presentation, “Let’s learn what listeners really think rather than a download, which tells you nothing.”

Boyne and fellow Executive Vice President Sam Milkman will present “The Three Ts of Content Execution: A Second-By-Second Look at Podcast Listening Behavior” Wednesday, September 5 from 2p-2:45 PM EDT via webinar.

Registration is now open for the webinar here.

 

How Podcasting Passes the Tipping Point

Tuesdays With Coleman

My colleagues John Boyne, Sam Milkman and Jay Nachlis and I just returned from Philadelphia, where we had the opportunity to deliver a presentation on content testing and sponsor the Industry track at Podcast Movement. To say we are invigorated from our Podcast Movement experience is an understatement; the conference was huge—over 2,200 attendees—and the presence of youth, energy and diversity was striking.

Podcast Movement 2018

Even more important than the size and make-up of the crowd, however, is the sense we have that podcasting is (finally!) nearing a tipping point. As our friendly competitors at Edison Research have meticulously documented, the podcasting audience continues to grow, yet only 17% of Americans listen to a podcast each week. What is striking about that is the rate of growth for podcasting has been dramatically slower than the rates of adoption we have seen in recent years for a wide array of new technologies and platforms, including mobile phones, streaming, social media and smart speakers.

Podcasting has been on the radars of people in the audio business and media savvy consumers for more than a decade, yet some still question whether it is a real business and whether it will achieve widespread consumer adoption. The size of Podcast Movement and the highly visible presence of radio-centric companies like iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Hubbard and Beasley at the conference, however, suggests that such questions are becoming the exception rather than the norm.

What will it take for podcasting to pass the tipping point we anticipate? We believe it boils down to three key points:

  1. Building Brands:

When syndicated iHeartRadio Country morning personality and new VP, Creative Director of iHeartCountry Bobby Bones spoke as part of the “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” track at Podcast Movement, he explained why listeners choose his show. “I built a brand and the brand is why the listeners come.”

iHeartRadio Bobby Bones

iHeartRadio’s Bobby Bones

He spoke about branding far more than he spoke about content, which left a clear message for podcasters. Your brand is why they come to your show. The content is why they stay.

It’s our experience that media brands that invest in clearly defining their brands build bigger audiences and are built for long-lasting success. Is your radio station the hit music station? Are you the go-to website for sports? Do consumers turn to you first for coverage of politics?

This is how the most successful podcasts will win. Consumers need to be able to easily identify show themes like “The True Crime podcast” or “The Cooking podcast” or “The podcast that talks about the 80s,” for example.

Of course, there are plenty of podcasts that cover those topics. If content quality is equal, the one with the best brand will win.

  1. Invest In Content:

Speaking of content, podcasts will need to follow the lead of other media in taking a disciplined approach towards content execution. At the very least, podcasters need to make investments in research to learn more about what listeners want from podcasts and the specifics of what works and what doesn’t work with the content they offer.

Some podcasts are highly disciplined in their topic choices and execution. Others are handled in a much looser format.

In our Podcast Movement presentation, “The Podcast Content Deep Dive: A Second-by-Second Look at Audience Behavior,” Sam and John revealed the three Ts of content execution—Topic, Treatment and Tone.

Podcast Movement Session

(L-R) John Boyne, Sam Milkman and iHeartMedia SVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson at “The Podcast Content Deep Dive” at Podcast Movement

While we’ll go deeper into our discoveries in next week’s blog and in an upcoming webinar, there are lessons that apply to all audio content, whether delivered via podcast or broadcast.

  1. Reduce Consumer Friction:

Is the process of finding, accessing and listening to podcasts is too complex for the average consumer?

Does the average consumer really know how to download a podcast or where to do it?

Do people even know what to call the purple podcast button on iPhones? Meanwhile, there are multiple apps to choose from on Google Play including RadioPublic, Stitcher and Google Podcasts (which just launched a new app in June). Other podcast sources include iHeartRadio and Spotify.

Would the industry be better off with a strongly-branded, user-friendly platform exclusively devoted to podcasting? Our sense is that the answer to this question is absolutely “yes.” The industry needs the YouTube of the podcast industry. Then, consumers need to know about it and understand how to use it.

One thing is for sure. We’re excited about the future of podcasting and look forward to helping this still-fledgling industry vault past the tipping point. To get there, podcasting needs to become easier for the average consumer to use, while at the same time focusing on building strong brands and developing great content.