Are Branded Podcasts Worth the Investment in 2024?

Here’s a bit of trivia to use with your non-marketing friends: the word podcast comes from the combination of two words: iPod + broadcast. The former is in reference to the early 2000s Apple music device that has unfortunately already met its demise by being discontinued from production.

Unlike iPods, podcasts have grown into a steady channel that brands and creators continue to invest budget in for both production and sponsorship costs as part of their marketing plans. The podcasting arena is now a thriving ecosystem, teeming with diverse voices and captivating narratives. There are millions of shows available for listeners to download and stream, in every format and topic imaginable.

In such a crowded space, many marketing leaders grapple with a critical question: Are podcasts truly worth the investment in 2024?

Let’s Look at the Data

Here are a few interesting stats to review:

According to the latest research from Edison Research, just over one-third (34%) of the U.S. 12+ population say they have listened to a podcast in the past week – up from 31% in 2023.

Source: Podcast Listening Hits Record Highs by Edison Research

40% of Americans 18+ said they would be “likely to listen” to a podcast about one of their favorite brands or products. If “podcasts about brands” were a category, it would be one of the three most popular podcast genres in the country.

Source: Sounds Profitable, The Power of Brands in Podcasts – A Podcast Landscape Study

In addition to the growing listener base, podcasts have also become a lucrative avenue for advertisers. Magellan AI’s quarterly benchmark report found that podcast ad spending in 2024 so far has increased 39% year-over-year.

Source: Magellan AI, Podcast advertising benchmarks: Q1 2024

These are interesting points, and validates that yes – there is still consumer interest in podcasts. But before you press ‘buy’ on that audio set-up, consider the following for your brand.

Why Brands Invest in Podcasts

Audience engagement. One of the primary advantages of podcast marketing is its unparalleled ability to connect with audiences on a deeper level. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, which are often seen by consumers as interruptive, podcasts offer a more intimate and immersive listening experience. By delivering valuable content in a conversational format, brands can forge genuine connections with listeners, building trust and loyalty over time.

Niche targeting. Podcasts provide marketers with an opportunity to reach highly targeted audiences. Your brand can tailor its marketing efforts to specific demographic groups or areas of interest. This targeted approach ensures that marketing messages resonate with the right audience, maximizing the impact of each campaign.

Brand credibility. Podcasts also offer an unparalleled platform for brands to establish themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. By sharing insights, expertise, and valuable information through podcast content, brands can position themselves as authorities in their field, enhancing their credibility and influence with their audience base.

Content repurposing. When strategically plotted out, podcasts can skyrocket content marketing plans by offering a variety of ways to get messaging out across channels. Just one episode can offer your brand valuable content to repurpose for things including blog posts, newsletters, social media videos, sales enablement, lead nurturing campaigns…the list goes on and on.

Challenges of Branded Podcasts

While podcasts offer a host of benefits, they also present several roadblocks that must be taken into account. 

Standing out can be tough. One of the primary challenges facing marketers is the saturation of the podcasting market. With thousands of podcasts vying for listeners’ attention, breaking through the noise and standing out from the crowd can be a daunting task. You must carefully consider your brand’s approach, and ensure that you can consistently produce high-quality content that resonates with your target audience. If this is something you cannot do, sponsoring an existing podcast with a strong listenership for your target audience may be a better option.

Analytics don’t come easy. Another challenge is the measurement and attribution of podcast marketing efforts. Unlike advertising channels like social media or search advertising, podcast analytics can be more limited, making it difficult to track the effectiveness of campaigns. Marketers must rely on a combination of metrics such as downloads, listens, and audience engagement to gauge the success of podcast efforts.

Investment is needed for success. Just like any other channel, marketers must consider the production costs and resource allocation associated with launching a branded podcast. It’s not a “one and done” effort. Creating and producing high-quality audio and video content requires time, effort, and resources – from guest recruitment, to scriptwriting and recording, to editing, distribution and repurposing content. Marketers must carefully assess the potential benefits against the costs.

Our Experience with The Social Pros Podcast

Convince & Convert is the home of one of the longest running marketing-focused podcasts out there: Social Pros. We started 16 years ago, and have produced more than 600 episodes, distributing them weekly throughout the show’s history. 

Here’s a closer look at our approach, touching on the pros and cons mentioned above.

The Social Pros podcast focuses on providing content that resonates with a very specific segment of marketers. We are not trying to capture the attention of every marketer, or even of potential clients. We have built a community around a topic we are passionate about – social media – and have invited other brands, even competing firms, to join in the conversation in order to provide value to our audience.

We are very specific in the goal of the show: we tell the real stories of real people working in social media. We do not invite talking heads, celebrities, or guests who are out to promote a product. We talk to practitioners who can speak to the success and failures of actual campaigns, and have been brave enough to press that “post” button to bring social content to the world.

When it comes to challenges, we’ve had our share of those, too. Poor production quality, juggling crazy guest schedules, creative snafus…we’ve been there, done that. Some of the ways we’ve been able to overcome these issues and ensure a consistent, quality production every week include: 

Strategic investment in technology platforms and equipment for recording.

Dedicated training and weekly hours for team members who are a part of the show. 

Employing a podcast producer to help run all of the communications and logistics needed behind the scenes (highly recommended).

Finding a trusted partner to help with weekly episode editing and distribution. In our case, we utilize the amazing Content10X team for this.

There are a multitude of ways brands can approach podcast production. Our way is not going to fit everyone. Some companies are able to run all pieces in-house, others outsource them completely. The important part is taking time to think through what the right set-up is for your team, and being flexible enough to adjust over time.

To help you out, below is a one-page podcast checklist you can reference as you think through each piece (no form needed)!

So…Are Podcasts Worth the Investment?

Generally, yes, there is still a lot of opportunity for brands to tap into podcasts in 2024 to reach their marketing goals. But just like all channels – the real question is “Are podcasts worth your brand’s investment”? 

To answer this, you need a clear grasp of how you want this channel to support your business strategy, and a definition of how a podcast will fit into your overall content marketing approach to meet your goals. 

Unfortunately we’ve seen far too many companies jump straight into the “how do I launch a podcast” mindset, and not enough time thinking through “does a podcast make sense for my brand?” When this happens, the end result is lacking ROI, with a lot of time spent producing content for only a handful of listeners.

If you would like a partner to help you on your podcast journey – from audience research, to content planning and production assistance – we’ve been there and can help. Reach out anytime.

As for our team at Convince & Convert – we don’t just talk the talk. We are doubling down on this advice and keeping the podcast momentum going with our brand as well. Coming this month, we are launching a new limited series called Data Driven Decisions with Zontee Hou, for marketing leaders interested in building their competitive advantage, improving insights, and increasing customer-centricity through data. Look for it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and in future issues of the ON newsletter.

Related Content
Why Better Stories Start with Better Questions

In the world of podcasting, the most important element is the story you’re trying to tell. You can have all the best equipment at hand, but it’s the story that makes it. We’re getting a little meta this week with a podcast episode about podcast episodes and storytelling with Elaine Appleton Grant, CEO of Podcast Allies and Host of the Sound Judgment podcast.

The post Are Branded Podcasts Worth the Investment in 2024? appeared first on Convince & Convert.

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