For as long as there’s been mass media, advertising has been the toll booth on the road to information, entertainment or any other content. You couldn’t get through the New York Times or the Plano Texas Pennysaver without encountering print ads. To watch a 30-minute TV show, you would wade through eight minutes of commercials or promotional announcements. Listening to your favorite music station meant a seemingly endless stream of pitches for acne cream, burgers or used cars, between Top 10 hits.
The digital revolution has changed that. Streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Hulu offer music and entertainment without commercials. Cable companies do the same thing too, if you don’t mind watching TV via DVR, where you can fast forward through the advertising.
Good for consumers, bad for advertisers as they’ve seen the expensive ad vehicles they produce diluted or even lost on the audience they’re paying to reach. Yet, a relatively new and fast-growing medium is giving advertisers a valuable weapon, one that reverses the trend for viewers and listeners to avoid their message, and actually moves them to embrace it.
It’s podcasting – a 21st-century creation that’s at once, a little bit old time radio, a lot of new technology and a versatile medium helping to satisfy the consumer’s voracious appetite for content.
It all began in 2004 when an ex-MTV disc jockey found a way to download internet radio broadcasts, and listen to them on demand. Apple got wind of the idea, and in 2006, podcasts began showing up on iTunes, SoundCloud and other portals.
Fast forward 15 years and, according to the New York Times, there are now about 800,000 podcasts available at any given time, with 150 million Americans (close to half the population) having listened at least once to a podcast, with 90 million having listened to, at least, one in the last month.
Unlike commercial television or radio, podcasts draw in listeners, because listeners want to be engaged, and the content is something that interests them. It might be news, politics, religion or a hobby; news about a sports team, their community or a venue for instruction. Whether it’s raising kids or installing a smart TV, the offerings of information are endless.
For advertisers large and small, podcasts are a dream come true. Former radio executive Dave Beasing saw the advertiser advantages to podcasting when he founded Sound That Brands
two years ago. Now, he and his team of veteran sound technicians and digital marketing pros offer a full service podcast agency, that in essence uses podcasting as a branding tool. “The key,” says Beasing, “is to offer content presented by a brand, not interrupted by a brand.”
Beasing and his team take time to learn about each client, the market they are trying to reach, the message they hope to deliver and the best way to deliver it. Next, they use what they call a “Story Finder Matrix,” blending factors like brand strength and brand stories or anecdotes to determine just how brand centric a podcast should be.