2017 was something of a coming of age year for podcasting in the UK. The medium is already well established in the US, during which time we have been able to build out our platform and monetisation offerings in preparation for the right conditions to take hold in new markets. Over the last year, 11 million people in the UK have listened to a podcast every month showing the massive growth in podcasting. What has caused this, and what does it mean for businesses?
Two main factors have driven this uptake, the blossoming of quality content in the podcasting scene which is starting to spill over into new mediums, and the accessibility of podcasts reaching a tipping point this year.
Podcasts are distributed across all major audio platforms, from Apple podcasts and Spotify to the likes of iHeartRadio and Google Play. What consumers needed was for the smartphone market to mature. Recent figures from Ofcom found that, in the worst case, 80% of the British Isles are covered by 4G signal, allowing consumers to stream and download content quickly and easily. The phones themselves have also improved, with more internal storage allowing consumers to have any number of podcasts downloaded to take with them on their commutes, to the gym or in the car.
The UK is home to great podcasts like No Such Thing As A Fish, The Totally Football Show and Soundtracking with Edith Bowman. Each episode of No Such Thing As A Fish is listened to by over one million people, and it is downloaded over 700,000 times. The podcast has been such a success that it is going on a live recording tour of the UK Ireland and Australia, and the team behind it has also released a book based on the show. Podcasting has become a new creative media hub, with new stories and new types of content taking hold and being adapted for TV and radio. The British public cannot get enough of podcasts!
The cherry on top in 2017 was the invitation for audioBoom to join the IAB UK as the first podcasting platform. This move is extremely important for the industry as a whole, as it shows that the British advertising industry now considers podcasting to be on an equal footing with TV, radio and online music streaming when it comes to brand promotion. As the industry works to set the standards against which success in podcast advertising is measured, we are part of that discussion, helping shed light on our industry and ensuring brands and content creators get the most out of their partnerships, and paving the way for continued success into the future.
Podcasting has been in the public consciousness for over a decade now. Back in 2007, the Ricky Gervais Show podcast broke a world record as each episode received an average of 261,670 downloads. The industry has grown massively in that time and now some podcasts bring in more listeners per episode than commercial radio stations have listeners. In many ways, podcasting has been waiting for technology and British consumers to catch-up and take full advantage of the amazing shows available.
So where is podcasting heading to next? For businesses, there is still some necessary education around the benefits of working with podcasters. We recently did some research with Edison and found that 60% of podcast listeners had bought or tried a product they had heard about on a podcast. Because people have to actively choose to listen to a podcast, they are naturally engaged with their chosen show and their attention is fully on what they are listening to. This is an incredibly powerful media through which to speak to consumers, made all the more effective when podcasters and brands work together for a 'live-read' where the content creators work a product or service mention into the flow and tone of their podcast.
Unlike most advertising, this makes the product part of the entertainment, rather than an annoying pre-roll add that is keeping you from what you came to engage with. As part of the IAB UK, we now have a strong foundation upon which to continue to build on the successes we have seen in podcasting in 2017 and continue to cultivate the kind of engaging content which the British public loves to listen to.
By Oli Walters, UK head of sales at audioBoom
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