Why brands are taking notice of podcasting to engage with audiences

With so much information bombarding consumers online, how does a brand compete for attention and truly engage an audience?

Some companies have discovered the power and intimacy of audio content, particularly podcasts, to connect directly with the listener and leveraging the trust-factor of the host in the process.

Host-read ads in podcasts resonate particularly well for advertisers because the audience understands they wouldn’t have a show to listen to without them.

In our podcasting series, BE Podcasting, we speak with the experts on how podcasts resonate with an audience.

Ben Grundy is a podcaster and co-host of arguably Australia’s most commercially successful independent podcast, Mysterious Universe, which enjoys downloads of 1 million+ a month.

He’s been podcasting for more than 10 years and he sees the industry really taking off in recent months. “I feel like the industry is going in the right direction. It’s becoming more professional. There’s more money being involved in the industry… more people are listening to podcasts,” Ben says. “I feel we’re on the cusp of it going from what is more of a hobbyists’ industry to a really professional industry.”


Several factors explain why more and more people are engage in podcasts for information and entertainment: mobile technology allows consumers to listen anywhere and anytime, a variety of well-produced shows is increasingly available for new audiences, and podcasting is attracting more media attention than just a year ago. A cycle which creates this snowball effect of increasing popularity.

But, it’s the very nature of audio listening itself which makes it stand out as attractive alternative for advertisers.

Unlike radio, listening to podcasts is an active pursuit by the listener, according to self-proclaimed radio futurologist, James Cridland. James advises radio stations and commentates on the current trends of audio content, and he says that unlike radio, a podcast is not something that’s in the background.

“I think people have made the decision to listen, so it’s not wallpaper,” James insists.

“People are typically listening with earbuds in so they’ve actually got real attention, real focus on what they are listening to and you can’t very easily at least turn off your ears. You can’t very easily skip through advertising the way you can in the newspaper for example.

“When an ad comes on, particular when a sponsorship message being read by the presenter you’re listening to anyway, you do actually pay notice to it”.

And this is why so many advertisers are considering audio content as part of their advertising and brand-awareness strategy.

Leading American podcast expert and author of the industry’s most popular newsletter Hot Pod, Nick Quah, articulates what many podcasters and digital agencies are finding in the world of podcasting.

“This is a space in which the audience is ripe for an interaction for the advertiser. The role of the host, the role of the narrator, the role of the voice is huge in the experience of podcast programming in general,” Nick says.

“The whole thing that media is struggling with right now is this notion of trust and this notion of a relationship with the media source. And I think within podcasting the existence of trust is particularly strong between listener and creator and I think that is something that advertisers value and is valuable to advertisers,” he adds.

James Cridland conducted research while at Virgin Radio in London to compare radio advertisements dropped in by a production company versus a host-read ad to gauge how audiences engage.

“When the presenter who is on the air reads out a message, that gets three times the amount of reaction to when everything stops for a 30-second advert by somebody else,” James says. “The opportunities for brands are very large,” James says.

But, that’s not to say people are seeking out advertising, James clarifies: “Nobody sits down and reads the yellow pages at night for fun. But if it is great content, if it is really interesting content, then there’s absolutely no reason why that content couldn’t be brought to you by a brand.”

These interviews were from Episodes 1, 2 and 3 of BE Podcasting.

If you’d like to learn more about how to engage your audience through branded podcasting, then contact us at BE Media Production.