Are podcasts the right channel for your brand?

By Sam Anderson | Editor, The Drum Network

The Social Element

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podcast article

April 12, 2022 | 4 min read

Podcasts are hardly new, but (along with other audio formats) they’re continuing to experience a long boom. The opportunity hasn’t been lost on brands, with a growing number of branded podcasts that have legitimately connected with audiences, as well as sponsoring and advertising opportunities. We asked three experts from The Drum Network: what’s the opportunity for brands?

Tamara Littleton, chief executive officer, The Social Element: a chance for real intimacy

We’re seeing more and more brands add podcasts to their wider marketing mix and think creatively about how they can engage and excite existing and potential customers. They’re a real opportunity for brands to own a narrative or expertise and turn consumers into fans.

But for me, the magic of podcasts lies in the intimacy they create. In my experience hosting The Genuine Humans podcast alongside my chief people officer Wendy Christie, it’s been a fantastic way to understand the people behind the brands. Not only has it been an opportunity to discuss leadership and company culture, but we also get to provide a candid space for marketing leaders to share their stories, show vulnerability and show that great brands are built by genuine humans.

Daniel Liddle, SEO lead, Impression: an opportunity (only) for the authentic

If brands are looking for a platform for the hard sell, then podcasts are not for them.

Podcasting gives listeners a real opportunity to familiarize or at best fall in love with your brand. It’s a way to show off a brand’s expertise, culture, purpose and vision. But without authenticity or energy it can fall into the myriad of dry corporate podcasting that floods audio streaming services.

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Some great examples of successful branded podcasting include Shopify, Basecamp and Slack. One of the things they have in common besides all being digital platforms is that they have personality. It’s casual, one that you might find near the coffee machine or after work drinks – which is probably a natural serendipity being in Silicon Valley.

Most of all, they’re relevant. It’s important to focus the conversation on what people want to hear rather than what the company wants to dictate. Brands need to ideate what topics are going on in the real world and what value or narrative they can bring to the subject.

Rob Keery, marketing manager, Anything is Possible: niche-within-niche = trust over traffic

Of all the one-to-many channels, podcasting has one quality for audiences that nothing else can beat: intimacy. The connections podcasters form with their listeners are direct, strong and resilient. When brands partner with podcasts to reach those audiences, what they’re really accessing is that authentic sense of trust.

It’s not a secret where this comes from. The DIY roots of podcasting have produced a sheer depth, breadth and diversity of output that means there is a podcast for anyone, no matter how niche your niche is. A great podcast gives the listener a sense of home and belonging – of having found one’s tribe at last. So however random your campaign’s point of resonance is, there will be a podcast for it.

With online experiences feeling increasingly owned and locked down, podcasting is one of the last pure organic channels left. It’s YouTube minus the toxicity of the comments section, or the excessive cognitive load and attention demand of video.

That positive audience relationship is where the true value is for brands. Audiences may not always be huge. And you may have to cede creative control to the podcaster so their voice comes through. But with careful targeting and a sensitive alignment of your brand, a host-read endorsement is one of the strongest trust signals you can get.

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