A New Form of Branded Content

A New Form of Branded Content

I love podcasts. Fiction or non-fiction there’s something about the storytelling in a well-produced podcast that piques my curiosity and totally captures my imagination. Whether I’m tidying up the house, doing yard work, tinkering in the garage, commuting to the office, or setting out on a long road trip there’s always a list of my favorite podcasts cued up and ready to go. I’m not the only one either.

Researchers have found that 21% of Americans aged 12 and up have listened to podcasts in the past month. That is up from 12% in 2013, a 75% increase. If those statistics seem a little vague then consider the same number of Americans (21%) actively use Twitter.

With this increase in listenership and the massive success of podcasts such as Serial, marketers have taken notice. Major brands such as GE, Netflix, eBay, and State Farm have partnered up with established podcast companies such as Gimlet Media to produce branded podcasts. Companies like Gimlet Media, which produces a hand full of non-branded shows not only has the expertise in audio production, but also have an existing listener base to whom they can advertise the branded podcasts.

The challenge is to be subtle so listeners aren’t presented with a 30-minute ad. Let’s look at Gimlet Media’s branded podcast series for eBay called Open for Business. Gimlet created a series that was essentially a guide to starting your own business. Each episode focused on a different aspect of starting a business and had to have one tie in back to the brand, usually a true story of a small business that found success using eBay. Open for Business was in the No. 1 spot for business podcasts on iTunes when it launched.

It’s a rare win, win, win situation in digital advertising. The podcast company gets to produce relevant interesting content, the brand gets to create a unique experience with the listener, and the listener gets high quality content rather than a 30-second interruption.

High quality branded podcasts are cost-prohibitive because of the amount of time and resources it takes to produce great audio. This means that this form of advertising will likely be limited to larger, more established brands but it also means that the integrity of the product will be prolonged, keeping listeners interested and engaged.

If you’re looking for some non-branded podcasts to get started on, here are a few of my favourites:

This American LifeRadio LabSerialEmbeddedReply AllCriminalThe Moth Radio HourStart UpPlanet MoneyRevisionist History, and The Mortified Podcast.