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Ear to the Ground: How Brands Can Capitalize on the Podcasting Wave

The Pod-Boom: How Podcasting Became Cool

In a world filled with screens, endless scrolling, and short snippets of content, the surge in podcast's popularity stands out as a refreshing change of pace. Despite the dominance of visual media, audio media offer something different—an antidote to the constant stream of quick bites.


This audio renaissance is fueled by the convenience and accessibility of on-demand content, allowing listeners to curate their personal playlists and dive into any topic that piques their curiosity. Podcasts are a go-to choice for entertainment, learning, and motivation on the go. What makes podcasts so appealing is their knack for turning everyday moments into meaningful experiences. Whether it's during your commute, workout, or chores, podcasts have a way of making the mundane enjoyable, offering a mix of learning and laughter along the way.


As evidence of this growing trend, recent statistics reveal a staggering surge in podcast listenership, with a global audience of over 504 million listeners—a remarkable increase of nearly 9% since last year:


Graphic that reads "504 million global podcast listeners pr

Why Podcast Fans Keep Pressing Play

Podcasting captivates and engages audiences in a way that few other mediums can match. Recent statistics show that the average podcast listener spends an impressive 7 hours per week tuning into their favorite programs. This level of engagement speaks to the unique relationship between podcasters and their audiences, with listeners often forming a deep connection with hosts and content that keeps them coming back for more.


the average podcast listener spends 7 hours with podcasts per week

Podcast listeners are known for their loyalty and dedication, often subscribing to multiple shows and eagerly anticipating new episodes. This level of engagement presents a valuable opportunity for brands looking to connect with their target audience in a meaningful way. By aligning themselves with popular podcasts and creating engaging, relevant content, brands can tap into this highly engaged audience and build brand loyalty in the process.


Podcasts have become a go-to source for learning and personal development, offering listeners a wealth of knowledge and insights on a wide range of topics. Research shows that a significant 74% of podcast listeners tune in specifically to learn new things. This highlights the growing demand for educational content in the podcasting space and underscores the medium's potential as a powerful tool for discovery.


74% of podcast listeners tune in to learn new things

For brands looking to connect with podcast audiences, understanding why people listen to podcasts is crucial. By creating content that informs, inspires, and adds value to listeners' lives, and placing it in front of audiences who are hungry for information, brands can effectively engage with their target audience and establish themselves as trusted authorities in their niche.


How Brands Can Remix the Rules of Engagement with Podcasting

It's clear that podcasting is a powerful tool for brand storytelling, as it offers a unique platform for brands to share their message, values, and personality in a compelling and authentic way. Recent statistics reveal that 40% of Americans aged 18+ report that they would be likely to listen to a podcast about one of their favorite brands or products. This staggering statistic underscores the immense potential of branded podcasts as a means of engaging with consumers and building brand loyalty. In fact, if "podcasts about brands" were a category, it would rank among the top three most popular podcast genres in the country.


40% of americans are likely to listen to podcasts about their favorite brands

Podcasts offer brands a unique opportunity to go beyond traditional advertising and connect with consumers on a more personal level. By sharing authentic stories, insights, and experiences, brands can create a deeper connection with their audience, fostering trust, loyalty, and affinity. Rather than bombarding listeners with sales pitches, branded podcasts allow brands to provide value through informative, entertaining, and engaging content that resonates with their target audience.


Moreover, podcasts provide a platform for brands to showcase their expertise, thought leadership, and unique perspective within their industry. Whether it's sharing insights from company executives, interviewing industry experts, or highlighting customer success stories, branded podcasts can position brands as trusted authorities and influencers within their niche.


Through storytelling, brands can humanize their message, making it relatable and relevant to their audience's lives. By sharing stories about their history, values, and impact, brands can create an emotional connection with listeners, sparking conversations and forging lasting relationships.


Podcast Potential: Exploring the Range of Branding Opportunities

In the expanding world of podcasting, brands can immerse themselves in this dynamic medium in a number of ways. Podcasting offers a spectrum of involvement for brands, ranging from minimal effort to more immersive strategies.


38% of podcast listeners report purchasing things mentioned in a podcast

Whether you're looking for a low lift approach or are ready to dive headfirst into podcasting, there's a strategy that fits your brand's goals and resources. Below, we've ranked these strategies from the least involved to the most immersive, allowing brands to choose the approach that best aligns with their objectives and capabilities:

  1. Dynamic ad insertion allows brands to place targeted advertisements into podcast episodes. By leveraging listener data and analytics, brands can deliver personalized ads that resonate with their audience, maximizing the impact of their marketing efforts.

  2. Announcer-read ads feature a podcast host or announcer delivering a scripted advertisement on behalf of the brand. These ads often feel more authentic and relatable, as they are delivered in the host's own voice, making them more effective at capturing listener attention and driving engagement.

  3. Episode or series sponsorships involve brands partnering with podcast creators to support their content in exchange for brand mentions or advertisements within the episodes. By sponsoring podcasts that align with their target audience and values, brands can increase brand visibility and reach new potential customers.

  4. Guest appearances on other podcasts offer brands an opportunity to showcase their expertise and knowledge within their industry. By sharing valuable insights and engaging with a new audience, brands can establish credibility, build relationships, and expand their reach within the podcasting community.

  5. Cross-promotion involves collaborating with other brands or podcasts that share a similar target audience. By promoting each other's podcasts through shout-outs, guest appearances, or joint marketing campaigns, brands can leverage each other's audiences and increase their visibility within their respective niches.

  6. Create a branded podcast: Creating a branded podcast allows brands to develop a series that reflects their values, mission, and target audience's interests. By producing content that resonates with listeners and aligns with their brand identity, brands can establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry and build a loyal audience over time.


Partners in Podcasting: How WTAE Elevates Brand Voices

At WTAE, we understand the power of storytelling in connecting brands with their audience. That's why we connect our clients with the Hearst StoryStudio, our expert content marketing group offering simplified, comprehensive solutions tailored to brands' specific needs.


With expertise in podcast ideation, production, and distribution, the Hearst StoryStudio collaborates with brands to create custom audio experiences that tell their unique brand story. Our team handles every aspect, from scriptwriting to audio editing, ensuring a polished and professional final product. Whether it's recording virtually or in person, we provide clients with the tools and support they need to bring their podcast to life.


In addition to custom podcasts, we offer options such as mini-podcasts, ad insertion into existing podcasts, and promotion for podcasts already created by brands. Leveraging Hearst First-Party Data and our extended network, StoryStudio can reach even the most highly focused audiences and detailed personas.


We distribute the podcasts we work on to top listening platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts, maximizing its reach and impact. And with real-time analytics, we provide valuable insights into audience response, allowing you to measure the success of your content and make data-driven decisions moving forward.


Take, for example, the StoryStudio's collaboration with Gannon University, where they are creating a podcast series aimed at guiding potential students through their university decision-making process. The podcast serves as a comprehensive resource for prospective students, offering insights into all that Gannon University has to offer. Through engaging storytelling and informative content, the podcast provides a firsthand look at campus life, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and more, helping to showcase the university's unique value proposition to prospective students.


Check out episode one below:



At WTAE and the Hearst StoryStudio, we're committed to helping brands craft compelling narratives, connect with their audience, and achieve measurable results through the power of podcasting.



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