• Ranu Kumari

Can The Widening Gap Between Podcast Engagement And Monetization Ever Be Bridged?

Updated: Oct 30

Podcasts aren’t a niche market. According to PodcastInsights, American listeners listen to around 7 different shows per week, up from 5 in 2017.

The term podcasting was first termed in 2004. Yet it wasn’t until the creation of the iPhone podcast application in 2012 that podcast listening achieved mainstream attraction.

Amid the assemblage of media alternatives that users have at their disposal, podcasts are portable and are a consistent companion when viewing a screen isn’t an alternative.

That makes audio the media of preference during transportation times (either in a car or public transportation).

Not only is it portable, but nowadays, podcasting has become a medium of communication with the world.

Source: Wikipedia

The famous stand-up comedian Marc Maron, also the host of a weekly podcast show—WTF with Marc Maron—said:

“The medium of podcasting and the personal nature of it, the relationship you build with your listeners and the relationship they have with you—they could be just sitting there, chuckling and listening… there’s nothing like that.”

And, we couldn’t agree more. Wouldn’t the audience be loyal to those brands whose experts actually care about the audience?

Talking about how podcasting is a great medium to communicate with the audience, it is evident that podcasts provide freedom to the art of storytelling and build a unique relationship with its audience.

Just like New York Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell who marks his presence through his Revisionist History podcast series. This not only allows him to connect with the audience but also displays goodwill and builds character.

Furthermore, smartphones are encouraging podcast engagement, as more than 36 million Americans now reach podcast content this way. Most of the podcast listeners are also most engaged when they’re away from home.

Engagement, Monetization & the Gap in Middle

Podcasts are fundamentally monetized via advertisements, sponsorships, listener contributions, memberships, and subscription models. However, advertisement revenue is relatively small (0.3B), as opposed to other media revenues.

Currently, podcast promoters pay per guarantee per download. While this can work for direct response promoters, it is not adequate for brand advertisers that want to impact consumers over a while. Still, podcasts provide an engaging environment for a hard-to-reach audience.

Some podcasters charge audiences for initial access to content, advertisement-free listening, or exclusive episodes. Podcasting is still in the pretty early stages of chalking out monetization strategies for long term growth. A positive model for both podcasters and profitability appears limited at this time.

Free Quality Podcasts Make the Gap Wider

The seemingly infinite competition from free podcasts makes it extremely difficult to bridge the gap between podcast engagement and monetization. No one would like to pay for a particular podcast if an equally good alternative is available for free.

The value proposition presented to the customers has to be very defined. Hence, building a paid subscription model will work well only if built around a niche that hasn’t been served by podcasting yet.

Since podcast distribution is decentralized, and most of it is routed through Apple, creating a paid subscription business is a challenging game to play in this business.

Apps & the Larger Marketplace

Users don’t feel passionate about their podcast apps because they are engaging with the audio content and not with the application at the end of the day. Still, apps give a new approach to enhance the podcast market. Podcast publishers with a more extensive follower base are bent on creating their own platforms for content distribution.

Slate Plus and The Athletic are excellent examples of using an authenticated fan base to build a substantial brand augmentation. Clearly, there’s a chance to make a network of creators and audiences.

Final Thoughts

With social elements, new interactive podcasts talk shows, and call-in shows are a part of podcasting’s future.

Good Content was and still is the engine of Podcast Monetization. Podcasts act as a vehicle for carrying your word to the masses. It takes a mighty engine to build a viewer base, and quality content is that engine. Advertising, sponsorships, and donations are the fuel that keeps the engine running.

A thriving podcasting monetization approach involves purpose, persistence, and patience.

It’s great to have a goal of earning money off your show. Still, if you fail to create a substantial demand for your content first, even the best monetization tactics will drop.

Nevertheless, for the podcast market to prosper, podcasting needs to find new and simpler ways for creators to share their own content, own their consumers, and monetize by alternative sources besides advertising and off-platform endowments.

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