How can a podcast competition be marketed

Why the podcast market will continue to boom in 2021

Podcasts are the trend medium of our day. While the classic media lost their income in the Covid19 crisis and they were unable to monetize their increasing use, things went like clockwork for the audio-on-demand offerings. More users, more offers, more advertising and subscription revenues create a spirit of optimism among publishers, marketers and producers. The audio streaming provider Spotify already had over 50,000 German-language podcasts on its platform in the fourth quarter of 2020; in 2018 it was only 2000. A total of around 2.2 million formats have accumulated there.

The boom in the audio-on-demand medium is favored by the boom in social networks. They make it easy for users to share their favorite podcasts with others. The widespread use of smartphones and better mobile tariffs also benefit the audio files. At the same time, they benefit from the low entry barriers for publishers, as Sander Bohlen, Chief Revenue Officer at the Podigee hosting platform, emphasizes: All that is needed for podcasting is an idea, a microphone and an account with a hosting provider. "As a result, many listeners become producers. On the other hand, podcasting is becoming interesting for many larger publishers who can produce a large number of podcasts thanks to better monetization options."

Covid-19 pushes usage and offer

Now the pandemic is fueling the medium's boom. A visible sign of this is the journalistic success of the NDR info podcast "Coronavirus Update" with the controversial virologist Christian Drosten, who has been at the top of the podcast charts at Apple and Spotify for months and has brought new listeners to the podcast medium. In fact, usage is growing across the board. An evaluation of the download numbers on Podigee's servers also showed that the first lockdown in spring 2020 in particular gave podcast use a push. For example, news and science podcasts soared in March and April. Comedy and sports formats also found more users. All of these topics remained in greater demand after the first lockdown than before. The analysis of Podigee corresponds to the observations of the podcast producer and marketer Podstars by OMR: "We see a very positive development with our offers", reports its managing director Vincent Kittmann. "But many publishers also deliver more content." They include publishers and media companies such as RTL, G + J or ProSiebenSat.1, who want to develop podcasts as a further business area in addition to their core business with print or TV content.

"If the big guys push the market, that's good."

Vincent Kittmann, Podstars by OMR

Despite increasing usage: podcasts are not yet a mass medium

How strong the upward trend is can also be seen in large studies such as the Online Audio Monitor. According to him, the number of online audio users using podcasts and radio broadcasts on demand grew from 9.4 to 17.3 million between 2018 and 2020, which corresponds to 34.5 percent of the population. The ARD / ZDF online study 2020 even comes to around 19.2 million who at least rarely listen to podcasts. Nevertheless, they are not yet a real mass medium, but rather a channel for young people and intellectuals. The podcast study carried out by Annalect on behalf of Spotify in November found that 68 percent of podcast users had a high level of education. And according to the ARD / ZDF online study, almost one in four between 14 and 29 dedicated themselves to one of the many audio on-demand offers several times a week in 2020, but for 30 to 49 year olds and the 50 plus it was only 14 and eight percent respectively. The medium has to catch up a lot with the Middle Ages and the elderly, only then will it be able to call itself the mass medium.

Young people use podcasts above average

Frank Bachér does not believe that the growing use of podcasts is at the expense of the radio. The increasing consumption of audio-on-demand, which is mainly due to podcasts, is not dangerous for traditional radio, in the opinion of the managing director of digital media at the audio marketer RMS, "because the satisfaction of needs and the usage situation are different," says Bachér: "Audio- on-demand offers fill the gaps that events and activities have torn in groups. Podcasts are now outstripping traditional audiobooks. "

Big players are booming in the podcast market

The podcasts also get a tailwind from the big players on the Internet, who are expanding their involvement in this market and sometimes paying a lot of money for it. They want to differentiate themselves from the competition and attract as many users as possible into their ecosystem so that they can earn money with them, be it in the form of advertising or subscription models. For example, Amazon surprised at the end of December with the purchase of the podcast producer Wondery, for which the Bezos group is said to have paid an estimated 300 million dollars. It now wants to catch up with the leading podcast platforms Apple, Spotify and Youtube with Amazon Music and obviously also to distinguish itself as a producer with the acquisition of Wondery. In Germany, users with an Amazon account can already use third-party formats and original podcasts on Amazon Music for free, all they have to do is register. It is expected that Amazon will soon get into podcast advertising marketing as well.

"We don't see the risk of an oligopoly in the podcast market."

Frank Bachér, RMS

Spotify focuses on podcasts and acquires specialists

For Spotify, podcasts have long been a strategically crucial business area. Because the company has not become profitable with music - a fee has to be paid to the rights holder for each song played - it is further expanding its exclusive and original formats, for which no revenue-share models apply and which can therefore be scaled better. In addition, Spotify is profiling itself as a platform for third-party podcasts and wants to attract more (paying) users with all these measures. Next, the audio streaming giant could sell a paid subscription only for podcasts, at least it conducted surveys among users in North America in autumn 2020. In order to get into the profit zone with podcasts, Spotify also feels compelled to dig deeper into its pockets by constantly buying in new audio streaming specialists. After Gimlet and Anchor, it most recently acquired The Ringer and the podcast advertising and publishing platform Megaphone, which it rumored to have cost 199 million euros.

In the competition with the aggressively expanding Internet giants, domestic podcast platforms such as FYEO or Audio Now are likely to have an even more difficult time in the future. The two offers do not even appear in the hit list of the preferred podcast platforms, while YouTube, Spotify, the Amazon subsidiary Audible and Apple Podcast are preferred by users, as the Annalect study shows. Only the ARD Audiothek can keep up with the big ones.

“Many customers are looking for ways to get their messages across at short notice and without creating large amounts of advertising material. Podcasts are ideal. "

Katharina Frömsdorf, Seven One Adfactory

But not everyone fears the power of Spotify, Amazon and Co. "If the big guys push the market, that's good," believes Podstars boss Kittmann and sees this as an opportunity to work for them as a podcast producer. Frank Bachér, Managing Director Digital Media at RMS Bachér is not afraid that global players will become too powerful and dictate the rules to others: "A large number of media companies and marketers are currently establishing themselves in the German podcast market, we do not see the risk of an oligopoly here. "

Podcast advertising market is growing - but at a low level

The fact that the Internet giants and the many smaller publishers and marketers are drawn to the podcast business is also due to the prospect of increasing advertising revenues. If more and more people call up the audio files, then the marketing money will follow suit. According to the Podcasts Trends Report by AdTech specialist Adswizz, the medium's advertising inventory increased by 51 percent worldwide from January to September 2020 based on internal data, and the volume of ad impressions even grew by 81 percent. This fits in with the trend in Germany, where more advertising customers have also invested higher budgets in podcast ads. "There was a big leap in 2020," says Kittmann. The podcast business also benefited from the reluctance to advertise in out-of-home media. The balance sheet for the newly formed Seven One Audio unit of the Seven One Entertainment Group is similar: "Many customers have been looking for ways to get their messages across at very short notice and without creating large amounts of advertising material. Podcasts are an excellent option," emphasizes Katharina Frömsdorf, Managing Director of Seven One Adfactory, which is also responsible for Seven One Audio.

Platforms for podcast usage in Germany

Nonetheless, the podcasts' revenue dimension is still modest. According to a forecast by the BVDW, they brought in just 14 million euros in 2020, in 2019 it was nine million. Kittmann puts the advertising turnover on the other hand at at least 30 million euros, if you add the fees for the exclusive podcasters at Spotify and the expenses of companies for their own podcasts, it could also have been 50 million. Nevertheless, the level is not enough to offer the mass of publishers adequate monetization.

Advertising becomes dynamic

To change that, marketers are pushing the so-called Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) technology. It can dynamically insert advertising at previously marked points in a podcast and according to certain targeting criteria via the ad server. The advertising is therefore not permanently linked to the other content of the podcast, so that an advertising space can be sold multiple times. Thanks to DAI, advertising spaces for many podcasts can also be bundled, so that advertising customers can easily achieve greater reach when running their campaigns. As a result, this should bring the desired scaling of advertising revenues. Podigee man Bohlen therefore assumes that classic audio ads will quickly prevail over baked-in advertising in the form of host reads. RMS man Bachér agrees with him: "We are again assuming strong growth in adserver-based podcast marketing this year and are certain that this segment will develop significantly more dynamically than host read ads."

Host read ads remain the supreme discipline

But the advertising spoken by the host will also hold up. On the one hand, because it can now also be played out dynamically. On the other hand, because they are well received by listeners and advertisers, so that publishers and marketers can call up much higher thousand contact prices for them than for dynamically integrated audio ads. In any case, Katharina Frömsdorf continues to swear by host reads: "We now have a large number of advertising customers who keep booking because they prove the immediate and strong conversion of the campaigns." In addition, market research on the podcast "All roads lead to fame" has shown that 79 percent remember the advertising in the podcast.

"We can now show advertisers exactly how often and to whom a podcast ad was delivered."

Sven Bieber, Spotify

Nevertheless, the music is likely to play more in dynamic advertising in the future. This is also ensured by Spotify, which after the Megaphone takeover can now officially offer its streaming ad insertion (SAI) control tool for its exclusive and original podcasts to all customers and agencies in Germany. "We can now show advertisers exactly how often and to whom a podcast ad was delivered," explains Sven Bieber, Head of Sales at Spotify Germany. In addition, the range of performance values ​​is being refined. Until the end of 2020, Spotify only calculated the ad impressions based on the number of streams and the listening rate of an episode, thanks to SAI it can now also provide analyzes based on the age, gender or listening behavior of the audience reached. In addition, customers receive reports on ad impressions, net reach and average contact frequency.

Is Spotify opening its podcast marketing to third party publishers?

Interesting: In a blog post from November, Spotify announced on the occasion of the Megaphone takeover that it would also offer SAI to third-party publishers on its platform in the future. This would shift the weight in podcast marketing further in favor of the Swedish audio group. But the whole thing is obviously not quite ready for a decision. When asked about the post, Bieber evades and surprisingly speaks of "speculation in the market", on which Spotify could not and does not want to comment. As soon as there is news, it will be shared with others. One can be curious.gui