Beyond The Podcast Stats – Infinite Dial 2018

During the 3/8/18 Facebook Live webcast, Edison Research Senior VP Tom Webster shared his insights about podcasting from the latest Infinite Dial survey. In conclusion, he presented the viewers with three takeaways to help podcasters get a bigger share of the voice audience.


First, explain the content of podcasts, not the technology.

When respondents were questioned about what they liked the most about podcasts, their answers centered around four topics — content, connection, community and learning something new.

Up until now, much of the current promotional practice simply lists podcasts and discusses technical topics such as mobile apps, RSS feeds, and different devices. Over the past 11 years that Edison has been tracking podcasts, Webster notes, the technology has gotten much simpler.The takeaway – if podcasters would align their promotional strategies with the reasons that people listen, the technology side should take care of itself. 


Second, promote podcasts through “push” campaigns, rather than “pull” techniques such as discovery.

Webster’s second takeaway for podcasters is “push, not discovery.” Much of today’s promotion is about discovery, that is, putting out a lot of great content and waiting for listeners to come.

That’s a pull strategy.

Podcasting, according to Webster, has never been pushed.

He says what it needs is something like the “Got Milk?” campaign, where the benefits of listening to podcasts are explained to a mass appeal public.

For example, “You’ve already got the tools, here’s why you should do it.”

“It’s time for the podcast industry to explain itself to the general public in a way that it never has before,” said Webster.


Third, embrace social audio.

From a smart audio study that Edison completed in partnership with NPR, one of the surprising results is that smart speakers are beginning to make listening to audio a social event.

“We’ve always defined podcasting as an intimate medium, something that happens between your ears,”’ said Webster. “But now, it’s becoming a fun thing for groups, families, and couples to do.”

This is really coming full circle. Families used to listen to the radio in their living rooms during the 1930s and ’40s. Plus, this is also the first time that millennials and younger groups are listening to podcasts without earbuds.

“Podcasters need to deliver ‘water cooler moments’ in the way that talk radio and great morning shows can do,” said Webster.

A rethink may be in order regarding both the content of podcasts and how they’re promoted to make them appeal more to groups.

Reflecting on the impact of smart speakers, Webster immediately thinks of the car environment. “When you can simply ask for the podcast that you want to hear while driving, it becomes easier to listen without crashing your car,” noted Webster. “Our research shows that as it becomes easier to listen to audio, people listen more, and smart speakers are increasing all of that.”

As podcast creators think about how to promote their products, we might do well to consider how our listeners talk about podcasts.


About the author: Brett Johnson

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