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The rise of podcasts in the UK led by technology, on-demand consumer habit and growing content

In the past two years, there has been a shift in radio advertising as it has progressed from radio to audio. Improvements in technology and user experience, plus a strong stance on the topical issue of brand safety, has brought audio to the forefront of change.

Podcast listening is on the rise according to data from Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), who is the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK. Here, RAJAR research cited by Ofcom indicated that 24% of UK adults aged 15 and above surveyed in Q1 2017 said they had listened to a podcast at least once, which is up 2% year on year and 5% compared to Q1 2013. Additionally, based on the RAJAR Midas Audio Survey (Autumn 2017), 69% of podcasts downloaded are listened to, which is up from 65% year on year.

But what has led to the rise of podcasts in the UK? The first and most obvious reason would be technology. Although podcasts have been around for more than a decade, it’s only in the last year or so, that the hardware and the applications have come together to make podcasting a simple and seamless experience for the listener. Acast, a curated platform for podcasts, offers multiple formats to reach consumers across their 45 million monthly listening through pre-recorded audio spots, host reads, dynamic videos, display banners and integrated sponsored/branded content. Acast was also the first to introduce programmatic ad buys within podcasts making it easier for brands to target specific genres and demographics across multiple publishers.

Consumer habit has also played a role as our desire for ‘on demand, stackable, watch or listen content’ has been driven by the likes of Netflix, iPlayer, Spotify and Amazon Prime video. Consumers want what they want when they want it and as much of it as they can get. Add to that the portability of commute-friendly podcasts and the habit converts readily to the intimate and enveloped medium of podcasts. In fact, over a quarter of all podcasting hours (29% share) are listened to whilst travelling (RAJAR Midas Audio Survey – autumn 2017). Finally, the content itself is growing exponentially offering more variety and options for the listener.

All Response Media Viewpoint
Yes, the podcast industry is healthy and growing. The continued rise of smartphone ownership, the exponential growth of podcast content and the on-demand media culture, all provide an ideal environment for podcasts to find new listeners. However, despite a growing user base, barriers to entry we face with podcasts, particularly with DR clients come down to cost and reach. On average, a 30” pre-recorded CPT on the podcast can be up to 4-5 times more than a 30” CPT on Daytime TV.

However, podcasts do offer a unique opportunity with the potential for brands to connect with their audience in a way that is much more integrated with the content. Here, podcasts offer sponsored live reads which are delivered natively within the content and fabric of a podcast, communicated conversationally by the host – a great way for the brand to feel more like part of the show than like an ad. They also give brands the opportunity to bring their promise, values and personality alive through client owned productions.

In order to be successful here, brands really have to commit to the format – working collaboratively with the podcast host and producers to curate content that fits with their brand and is also relevant to the tone of the show.

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