The Podcast Explosion is Coming, and the Big Boys See It

Podcast explosion comingWhat do you do if you think podcasting is just a charming little community of enthusiasts, not unlike ham radio, that isn’t growing? You ignore your podcast app; treat it like a novelty.

Now what do you do when you realize that people want info but increasingly don’t like to read, get downright uncomfortable when it’s completely quiet, have plenty of listening time, are almost always on a mobile device, are awesome at multitasking, and mostly want content customized to their interests? And oh by the way, 4G connected cars are just around the corner with the equivalent of an iPad in the dash.

If you’re Apple, a company that has a notorious history of getting it right and being ahead of every curve, you realize that your podcast app is just…eh. And then you buy a cool one like Swell for around $30 million to get ready for what you now know is coming.

Even in the year 2014, it is amazing how well broadcast radio still does. Advertisers have been edging away from it, but they’ve been doing that despite the fact that listeners have not been abandoning it en masse. Why not? Because it’s so free and easy. You get in the car, turn on the engine, and there it is. Don’t like the song? Just hit a button.

Now take that ease of use, add mobile and cross-platform portability, add the elimination (yes, you can add an elimination) of all content you aren’t interested in, add the ability to stream vs. download, add the ability to hear full programs from the start when you’re ready for them, and then you’re drifting into “everybody gets their audio information/entertainment from podcasts” territory.

And smart people see it coming.

Apple will shut Swell down and use it’s people and tech to kick their podcast app into higher gear to meet rising podcast listenership. But what will brands do? Are they seeing, and preparing for, the same thing?


Most brands have happily shelved podcasting into the “well there’s at least one thing I don’t have to consider including in my content strategy right now” column. They’ve been getting bombed by “thought leaders” and mega-consultant authors that they should be doing video. I’m 100% in favor of video. That medium is awesome and it does work…IF…

…you can finish what you start. The random, unpredictable, occasional, one-off video is not going to get anyone in a consistent habit of consuming your content. Audio is faster, easier, and cheaper to employ, giving you the ability to put out a consistent “show.” So you might start thinking about what that show is going to be, because there’s about to be a lot of ears out there searching for something worthwhile to listen to.

@brandcontentst         @mikestiles

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