Once upon a time—circa 2015—companies would try to reach affluent, relatively well-educated consumers through their favorite podcasts, buying an ad during an episode of shows like Serial or Stuff You Should Know. They still do, of course, which has helped to balloon the value of podcast companies like Gimlet Media, which Spotify bought in February for more than $200 million.
But more and more companies are now going a different route: They are becoming podcast producers themselves, creating branded content to engage customers directly.
Look no further than ZipRecruiter, which in 2018 partnered with Shark Tank investor Daymond John to launch a 10-episode series called Rise and Grind. Or online mattress company Casper, which got in bed with comedian Chris Gethard for the podcast In Your Dreams.
The trend goes beyond young venture capital-backed companies, though. Gucci launched a branded podcast last year featuring interviews with its creative directors and their collaborators. And Chanel’s 3.55 podcast, which debuted in 2017, takes listeners “behind the scenes” of the French fashion house.
On the surface, branded podcasting may seem like a relatively low-investment marketing strategy. After all, how much could a microphone and digital recorder cost? But experts warn that costs—including advertising the podcast itself—can add up fast.
“It’s a half-million dollars to even think about it,” Russell Lindley, the president of media agency Ad Results Media, told Digiday. “A million for a really well-produced one.”
“Podcasts are a great tactic—they just won’t be your broadest reach tactic.”
And while findings from Edison Research last year indicate that about 73 million Americans over the age of 12 listened to a podcast “in the last month,” the reach for branded podcasts is typically narrow.
“Podcasts are a great tactic—they just won’t be your broadest reach tactic,” Jason Goldberg, the chief commerce strategy officer at advertising and PR firm Publicis, told Business of Fashion. “You tend to get only your most zealous audience, but you get a really quality engagement with them.”
When considering launching a podcast, think carefully about strategic marketing goals. If the primary goal is to tap into a large audience, you may be better off with more traditional advertising plays. But if your company is looking to foster a strong connection with a specific consumer niche, it may be time to push play on a podcast of your own.
This article appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Insigniam Quarterly, with the headline “When to Jump into the Podcast Game.” To begin receiving IQ, go here.