Podcasts are a unique media format because they don’t have a native platform that is home for their content. For video, content creators have been gathering on Youtube and, more recently, TikTok, while Instagram has been the prime hub for your pictures since 2010.
On the other hand, podcasters broadcast their content to the world via the RSS feed, and podcast listeners choose the app through which they consume the content based on their personal preferences. This idiosyncrasy provides a level of control and freedom for creators and listeners that just doesn’t exist for other media formats due to the quasi-monopoly of the big platforms.
However, complete freedom comes with a price, specifically the dramatically increased challenge to reach listeners and grow a loyal audience. While other platforms drive users to new content to maximize time spent consuming media and therefore create ad revenue, podcasters must put in the work themselves and market their shows via other channels or rely on their listeners to spread the word.
This lack of discoverability further hinders the path to monetizing and ultimately working as a podcast creator full time.
So how can the podcast ecosystem solve those challenges for creators?
Centralization à la Youtube, Instagram, or Facebook will not create a solid and creator-friendly ecosystem in the long run. While podcasters could benefit from the improved discovery, ad revenue share for creators is steadily declining or non-existent and is an uncertain route for podcasters.
With total audience sizes being significantly lower than for other types of media, only the top percentiles of podcasters can successfully monetize via typical CPM ad models.
The global levels of podcast consumption are already far outpacing the development of the ecosystem and the support infrastructure for podcasters.
To ensure a continuation of the rise of podcasting, the next generation of podcasters needs support when facing the core challenges of the current market.
Listening apps need to beef up their recommendation mechanics to facilitate the discovery of new shows for listeners. Content type based recommendations are a good start, but apps have to show more than superficial information and enrich profiles with the ability to add trailers, audio snippets, and social profiles to ease discovery.
Google and Facebook receive over 50% of every ad dollar spent in the United States, followed by Amazon with another 11.6% of the pie. While their advertising offerings are well suited for many products, the efficacy for podcast growth is discouraging. There is currently no adequate advertising solution for podcasts that provides a great user experience at an economical price.
Creator collaborations always have been and still are a significant growth driver for content creators of all formats. Companies like Wondery have long realized this and are using their shows to promote other relevant podcasts in their network via cross-promotion.
Yet, podcasters suffer the same challenge as listeners and are affected by poor discoverability. Networking and cross-promotions need to be encouraged and facilitated by companies already accumulating large numbers of podcasters on their platforms.
Alternatives to ad-based monetization
Average podcast audience sizes will likely stay far behind the consumption that videos and images receive due to the low time investment of the latter two formats. Pure ad-based monetization will not work for most podcasters, and alternative income channels must be established from the start.
Patreon and other similar providers have already created a basic framework for subscription models. Nevertheless, there is still a dire need for additional help to systematically scale the model.
The consumption and popularity of podcasts are sure to keep rising and continue to establish podcasts and audio-first content as a major content format along with video and images.
We at Audry are excited to be along the ride and will do everything we can to ensure podcasters receive the highest quality of support they require to own their success story.