Podcast research is following the path of early broadcast TV research

“Oh yeah, that was on a podcast I was listening to the other day.”

It’s a sentence that we’re all getting used to hearing more and more often. On buses, trains, at home and at the desk, our thirst for knowledge is increasingly quenched by the unstoppable rise of the podcast. 

Podcasting is no longer a tool reserved for journalists and media organisations. It has now infiltrated all industries and cultures, and has almost become an inevitability in many cases. Whilst podcasting started in the media sector, we now see brands of all kinds using podcasting as a way of reaching new audiences across more and more platforms. From fashion brands and marketing thought leaders to TV shows and musicians, podcasting is the new mainstay on the scene, with over 400 million podcast listeners tuning in worldwide. 

However, the meaning of podcasting has rapidly shifted and evolved in the last few years. Podcasting is no longer simply a single form of media – it’s a complex, multi-faceted ecosystem that the world is yet to understand and fully master. Podcasting is relatively understudied compared to other long-established formats due to its emerging nature. 

Whilst we have the top-line listener stats released by platforms like Spotify, brands now need to take the time to understand their specific audiences. How are your listeners engaging? How do they like to consume media, and where? What demand is there for podcast content in your industry? How are attitudes changing over time, and what behavioural patterns will allow you to predict and stay ahead of the curve? Perhaps most importantly, why are people listening? 

The brands that truly harness the power of podcasting, and understand and predict the underlying behavioural patterns and themes, will see major success. Whether you already have a podcast up and running, or if you’re considering starting one, podcast tracking will provide a clear picture of the listener’s mind, informing crucial creative decisions. 

So, what are some of the notable behavioural themes when it comes to podcasting?

Giving your brand a voice – sponsorship of a podcast 

A lot of the benefit of podcasting lies in the idea of identity. The podcast format allows brands to give themselves a voice, and, in the case of video podcasts, a face. Brands and industries that struggle with personability in their communications have a new opportunity to overcome these challenges and make their brands more accessible and distinctive to a wider audience. 

Podcasting also allows brands to access and keep contact with their audience for long durations, building up listener loyalty in the process. It’s an opportunity to tell the story of your brand and the people behind it, which sometimes can’t be done with more succinct content formats. 

Creating an ‘ecosystem’

Podcasting is unique. In a world where content is being sliced down into smaller and smaller chunks, long-form content is becoming an endangered species. With attention spans dwindling, it seems that podcasting has become a defiant surviving bastion of long-form content. By its very nature, podcasting is very versatile and can be consumed in so many ways, contexts, and situations. So what do we mean by an ecosystem? 

Well, it’s often the case that the podcast itself is just the starting point. Due to the ever-diversifying social media landscape, a podcast can be broken up and distributed in different ways across different platforms, creating multiple points of contact with different audiences. Podcasts are consumed as streamed or downloaded audio, watched as video interviews, discovered as short clips on Instagram and TikTok, featured on the social media profiles of guests – the list is endless. Podcasts can be proliferated across all channels to really maximise reach and intrigue. Depending on your audience, these points of contact will vary, and appear in different combinations across different channels. It can be a lot to unpack.

Forming connections and communities

Podcasting also allows for greater collaboration between brands, partners and figures. The open discussion format means that brands can share insights with each other, and even share  audiences with mutual benefit. Podcasts create committed listener communities in a way that conventional media and marketing just don’t. Plus, podcast listeners are in a completely different headspace than they may usually be when consuming your ad content. They are intrigued, receptive, and open to new ideas and information. They want to feel part of a discussion. 

Cracking the behavioural code

The speed and intensity at which podcasting has exploded across so many sectors means that those hoping to understand and predict behaviour amongst listeners are going to be playing catch up. It’s all well and good understanding the benefits above, but how can brands put this into practice? Broad podcast listener stats do not tell brands what they need to know to really connect with their audience, and leverage engagement. What makes the real difference is cracking the behavioural code – truly understanding why and how people engage with podcasts, rather than just when and where. 

The only way for brands to create a genuinely successful podcast strategy is with all the key insights and behavioural understanding gained from podcast tracking. For more information, contact Trinity McQueen today. 

At Trinity McQueen we work for both sides of the podcast mirror: we help finesse the content using our media analysis expertise (similar methodologies that we have refined for the TV broadcasters and streamers) and we help brands identify which podcast will give them the best virtuous payback circle by association.

We are also working on the UK’s most advanced Podcast Listening Chart which will launch later in 2023.