Podcasting is not a new form of content marketing or media.
But to say podcasting is ‘having a moment right now’, would be accurate.
Just as 2016 saw the rise of the social media influencer, and the subsequent rise of specialized agencies and services related to leveraging influencers to grow your brand, I predict 2023 will be the same for podcasting.
No better way to kick off what will be a year of explosive growth for the medium, with a breakdown of my top three predictions for podcasting for 2023.
Prediction #1: More brands will adopt podcasting as a marketing tool
The focus here is on the word more.
There are already a slew of brands creating incredible content in the podcast world, but I get the distinct sense that we will see an influx of them leaning into podcasts in 2023.
First of all, we should probably define what I mean when I say brand podcast.
In podcasting lingo, a brand is really any entity, solopreneur or artist/creator that backs a podcast project.
It can take the form of a sponsorship, a full blown series or a combination of the two.
Either way, when it comes to brands, podcasting can serve as a powerful activator to increase awareness, brand lift and, even conversions and sales, depending on how you structure your show and launch.
But why will more brands enter the podcast space in 2023?
The reason more brands will invest in podcasting this year is simple – social media is becoming onerous and too challenging for many marketers.
Long gone are the days of organic, or viral, growth on any social media platform.
And dwindling are the opportunities to truly leverage paid social advertising to create profit.
Brands are between a rock and a hard place, where they are forced to feed the social media beast, but they are always at a risk of falling victim to the various algorithms and shifts on each specific platform.
Now, I will be the first to say that podcasting alone does not make for a great branded content strategy. You need to have some supporting content in order to make the most of your show.
But what it offers to brands is an alternative that is powerful as heck at mobilizing an audience of raving fans.
Podcasting also presents a unique opportunity to build an owned asset off social media.
Smart brands will see the value in using podcasts at the top and the middle of their existing content funnels to nurture, build and connect with existing or future customer bases.
Prediction #2: Podcast listenership will continue to grow in a surprising way
Stick with me on this one, because there is method and reasoning behind my prediction – and it stems from what I see happening in mainstream media (at least in Canada, where I’m most familiar with the inner workings of the radio and television industry).
About a year ago, a report was released by Signal Hill Insights that drew a direct line between podcast listeners and cord cutters.
A cord cutter is essentially someone who has chosen to unsubscribe from cable, land lines and ‘old school’ traditional mainstream media sources.
The research shows that 29% of podcast listeners have no cable or pay TV subscriptions. (Source: Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights’ Podcast Download – Fall 2022 Report).
In a nutshell, the research suggested that folks who cut cords (whether they do it to save money, or because they are sick of media etc. doesn’t fully matter), were much more likely to consume podcasts and tune into streamed media, like Netflix, Crave, Prime etc.
From this, we can glean a couple of things.
- Mainstream media is losing market share to a market that is being almost entirely ignored by Canadian regulators and big media companies. (More on this later, because I definitely have some considered thoughts about why this is and what it means for media consumption overall)
- Podcast audiences represent an otherwise ‘untouchable’ audience that mainstream media and advertisers cannot access right now.
Combine all of this with the fact that podcast listeners are not only accepting of, but often enjoy host-read ads and endorsements and you have a listener environment that is rife with opportunities.
But back to my prediction- podcast listenership will grow in unexpected ways.
I wholeheartedly believe that savvy news consumers in particular are fed up with the current state of media in Canada.
Pithy reporting to flat out bad journalism, terrible production and news programming that is superficial and lacking context are all forcing the discerning consumer of news to seek other sources.
Again, enter podcasting.
I get the sense that we will see the 55+ age demographic increase their consumption of daily and weekly news and current affairs podcasts this year.
They will be looking for hosts and shows that offer deeper analysis and insights than the mainstream can offer.
Not only that, but they will be excited to lean into the ‘Me FM’ idea of podcasting, where the listener can dictate where and when they are ready to consume the news and opinions of the day – versus having to tune in (or PVR?) a news program at a network specified time.
Long story short – I think we’ll see more mature listeners become heavy podcast listeners. And mainstream media’s loss will be podcasting’s gain.
And before you message me and suggest I’m forgetting Millennials in all of this, a) I am technically a Millennial myself and b) I think so much is going to happen with this demographic in 2023, that it is deserving of its own post. Again, watch for that and subscribe to our newsletter so you don’t miss it.
Prediction #3: It’s going to be harder to organically launch a podcast in 2023
Obviously, this prediction is most important if you are planning to launch a podcast this year.
However, the flip side of this prediction is that it will be harder for you to find and make time for the shows you want to listen to.
What is driving this prediction?
Podcast market saturation, to a certain extent.
But, podcasting is still by far the least saturated marketing channel out there. Compare the 5-6 million active podcast feeds globally to any of the numbers of active YouTube channels, Facebook groups or TikToks.
So why will it be harder to organically launch?
Simply put, it’s because listeners have so much choice. To have success with your podcast in 2023, you’re going to need to invest in audience development, audience engagement, guest engagement, research, and in most cases, be willing to throw some paid ad dollars behind your show.
Podcasting is not an inexpensive endeavor.
I think what we’ll see happen in 2023 is the brands and businesses who are ready to take it seriously will invest in all that it takes to build a show that attracts the right audience and moves the needle.
Erin Trafford is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Story Studio Network. She is an award-winning journalist and professional blogger and has been growing SSN since 2021.
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