What is a branded podcast and why do you need one?
No doubt you’ll have come across the term ‘branded podcast’ in your listening travels, but what does this mean? If you’re a business, how do you go about producing a branded podcast, and why?
What’s the difference between a branded podcast and podcast advertising?
When a business decides to create content, in this case an audio programme or series, listeners might be suspicious that this is merely advertising dressed up something else, but the truth is that ad-funded content is creating some of the most exciting and unique stories in the podcast space right now.
Firstly, it’s a lot more than advertising, and very different to the host-read trailers or promotions we’re by now quite used to hearing in podcast breaks. Branded content, by contrast, presents a chance to create an entirely bespoke programme, perfectly focussed towards your choice of audience, with content curated to fulfil an emotional need with your brand at the very heart of it.
And it’s more than branding too. Even the most functional of services might find a new way of reaching their target customers by answering questions that arise in an audio space.
Finance companies and corporates have well and truly cottoned on to this in the UK: high street banks are addressing entrepreneurs by creating advice and conversation programmes for business owners, insurance companies seize an empowering ethos by profiling the world’s most exciting extreme sports athletes, mattress companies teach us about sleep hygiene and tax advisory and audit services create programmes about digital innovation to assert their credentials in the future of business and video streaming services publish fan-casts to deepen conversation around their top-drawer shows.
Creativity is key
The fact is that even the most unsexy business can provoke valuable conversations and learning in this space.
The creativity within this space is exciting! Whereas there is always a place for a great round-table conversation or inspirational interview, podcasting allows the listener to go places and experience ideas, the format allows a producer to show, rather than tell the story, with sounds, creative writing, music, imagination, music and more.
Podcast listeners do not simply want to be entertained either. They are active in their listening decisions, want to learn, educate themselves and be inspired with new ideas. And being a personal medium, listened to heavily on headphones, it is also one of the most intimate opportunities we have to meet audience demand or curiosity in subject areas which other media do not serve as privately or effectively.
I’m not just talking about sex tips, you smutty sausage. There is now a plethora of brilliant content emerging on the basics of managing finances, negotiating relationships, careers and other areas in which adults may be less than willing to admit a lack of knowledge or understanding.
Good branded content, first and foremost, is about meeting the needs of customers. It’s not about pushy sales messages or special offers. It’s about building trust and value between the business and listener, which if successful will mean that subsequent advertising will be met with greater receptivity.
Does my business need a branded podcast?
So are there any brands that shouldn’t be engaging in branded content? Or should everyone be a producer now?
My answer to that is to investigate what the company is trying to achieve in becoming a publisher. It’s true that right now many business seem to feel the pressure to jump on the bandwagon, but unless there is a clear strategy for what you hope to successfully achieve with your content, you will succeed in doing nothing much at all, or worse still blurring your proposition amongst the very market you wish to gain traction with.
My advice is that before you leap in, work with your marketing and sales teams on a combined strategy. The one is expert in talking to your audience, the other in listening to what they want and need. The moment you begin to serve this, is where the creative for your concept is born. But don’t worry if it’s just numbers, there is a plethora of branded content and commercial audio specialists able to help you take this to the next level in the editorial stages of development.
Another important note! Don’t forget to take your digital folks along for the ride too. Even if you choose to engage an external specialist to produce your audio content, ensuring your company lines up to promote it across all of its digital channels and fully integrate this within your comms ecosystem is 100%, absolutely, categorically, essential to its success.
Hopefully this piece has cleared up a few of the questions you might have had over how branded content can be a comms asset to your company, and how you might consider approaching it.
If you’d like to find out more, or if you’ve a bit of internal persuading to do before you can get the budget on board, take a look at some of these recent figures from industry research. You might be pleasantly surprised!
OFCOM (Sept 2019)
7.1 million people listen to podcasts in the UK each week (1 in 8 people)
RAJAR: MIDAS AUTUMN 2019
67% of Podcast listeners listen to the whole episode and 68% listen to mostly all of the episodes they download.
Podcasting is almost always a solo activity, with a share of 91%
How many podcasts are there out there on Apple? (January 2020)?
And more than 30 million episodes!