Future of Podcasting

The Future of Podcasting: 4 Things to Watch Out For in 2020

With the rapid growth of podcasting right now, we can be sure that a few things will happen this year. 

We already have estimated many numbers regarding the future of podcasting and the immediate 2020 trends regarding listenership, awareness, and user engagement, and you can find them all in our trends analysis.

In this article, I will discuss some significant changes that happened this year and how they will impact the big landscape.


Future of Podcasting - weekly listeners

Podcasting Listenership Will Grow to Over 70 Million Weekly Listeners.

Let’s start with good news. Market conditions are excellent. Every year more people find out about podcasts and listen to them regularly. The future looks bright.

Future of Podcasting - weekly listeners pin

We are currently in a positive cycle where more high-quality listeners are attracting advertisers, which in turn attract quality content creators. And this good content invites more listeners.

According to Edison Research and our research and analysis regarding the future of podcasting and trends:

We are currently in a positive cycle where more high-quality listeners are attracting advertisers, which in turn attract quality content creators. And this good content invites more listeners.

According to Edison Research and our research and analysis regarding the future of podcasting and trends:

  • Awareness of podcasting in 2019 is at 69% of the U.S. population. It means that 197 million people had contact with podcasts by 2019. Over 10 million more Americans will find out about it in 2020.
  • Monthly listenership in 2019, over 32% of Americans have listened to podcasts monthly, which is 90 million people. Over 8 million more Americans will become regular monthly listeners in 2020, reaching 98 million monthly listeners.
  • Weekly listenership in 2019, over 22% of Americans have listened to podcasts regularly every week, which is 62 million people. Almost 8.5 million more Americans will become regular weekly listeners in 2020, reaching 70 million weekly listeners.

And podcast listeners are consuming a lot of content. Regular listeners listen to 7 different shows and listen to 8 hours of content weekly. People have cumulatively listened to almost 12 billion hours of podcasts in 2019, and in 2020 this number will be close to 14 billion hours. More and more podcast listeners will become Super Listeners in the near future.


Future of Podcasting - competition

Tech Giants Will Continue the Big Push into Podcasting. Spotify and Apple will fight for the lead.

Music Streaming now comprises 75% of total U.S. industry revenues, according to RIAA Music Industry Revenue Statistics

Future of podcasting - global music industry revenue

Globally streaming revenue grew by 34% in 2018 and accounted for 47% of total music revenue worldwide, according to the 2019 IFPI Global Music Report. The scale of this shift is paramount. Thanks to streaming global music, revenues grow at the fastest rate in more than two decades, according to The Guardian

Future of Podcasting - competition pin

How music streaming and music revenues impact the future of podcasting?

Very simply. Podcast listeners are more often paying customers for subscription services. On top of that, according to 4DC Consultancy findings, almost 60% of podcast listeners declare readiness to pay around $5 for content monthly.

How music streaming and music revenues impact the future of podcasting? Very simply. Podcast listeners are more often paying customers for subscription services. On top of that, according to 4DC Consultancy findings, almost 60% of podcast listeners declare readiness to pay around $5 for content monthly.

Apple’s conservative and cautious moves in podcasting space:

  • Apple recently broke it’s iTunes behemoth app and separated Apple Podcasts as an individual app available directly from the desktop.
  • Apple unofficially has hired Emily Ochsenschlager, National Geographic’s current director of podcasts, and an ex-reporter/producer for NPR. 
  • According to Bloomberg, Apple plans to fund original podcasts that would be exclusive to its audio service, increasing its investment in the industry to stay ahead of the competition (Spotify and Stitcher).

Spotify’s strategic and aggressive push into podcasting included:

  • Spotify became Apple’s biggest rival and the second-largest player in podcasting. It has made a coordinated strategic push into the podcasting market. 
  • Spotify has grown its shows’ directory from 10,000 to over 500,000 podcasts.
  • Investments made by Spotify amount to about $400 million. This money fueled acquisitions of podcasting companies.
  • Spotify’s podcast audience has grown by more than 50% since the start of the year.
  • Another result of the big push is the 39% increase in podcast hours consumed by listeners quarter over quarter. 
  • Spotify has published and walled off its exclusive podcasts entirely within its own Spotify app. 
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All those efforts made by the two biggest podcast directories mean that the competition for listeners and their wallets will become more fierce. It is highly expected and positive news for the future of podcasting.


Future of Podcasting - leads

More Podcasts Will Be Created With Goal to Capture and Nurture Leads.

The searchability of podcasts got improved when Google has begun indexing individual episodes. Currently, when you search for a specific topic, podcast episodes can appear in the search results. 

Big players will continue to compete amongst themselves for more listeners to increase the paid subscribers’ numbers and play more hours of podcasts (where they don’t need to pay royalties to creators).

Reliance on big companies has its limits. Tech giants always change algorithms impacting your traffic – Google, Facebook, Pinterest. What will happen one day if Apple and Spotify will change something in their algorithms? They may decide to promote more of their content, jeopardizing strategies, and undermining the effort of smaller creators. It would significantly change the future of podcasting.

The traffic game is always evolving. Once upon a time, traffic was cheap, and you could get it on Facebook exceptionally easily. Traffic from Pinterest was also relatively easy to obtain. SEO practices applied to get more visibility in Google also got a change with Google algorithm updates.

Now we live in times when you can get traffic also relatively easily with good podcast engagement and podcast marketing strategy. But due to experiences with the tech giants, we are also in a situation of limited trust. 

There will be more refinement amongst creators in the podcasting space. There are currently:

  • 1 billion pages and about 500 mln blogs
  • 25 million YouTube channels
  • More than 800.00 Podcasts
Future of Podcasting - leads pin

Many new creators of podcasts already have experience gathered in blogging and podcasting. The main lessons learned were: quality, engagement, and necessity build assets.

Asset building is essential as, in the long run, big players don’t always care enough about smaller content creators. The most valuable asset you can build online is an email marketing list.

When you have a person subscribed to your mailing list, you can proceed to Lead Nurturing.

Why Lead Nurturing even matters for the future of podcasting and creators?

It matters if you are trying to do a profitable business with your podcast, and finally, convert your listeners into buying customers. But you have to be aware that as many as 73% of leads are not even ready to purchase anything. It makes basing all your sales on podcasts difficult when you have just begun.

But there is good news. Companies that nurture leads with more content, value, and engagement increase their conversion rates. In a study, the result of fixing lead nurturing mistakes resulted in an enormous 79% increase in conversions. Additionally, according to Forrester Research, companies that champion lead nurturing and relationship building, over time, generate 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost per lead.

Your podcast should also implement lead nurturing efforts to make your business more resistant to algorithm updates and any changes introduced by large tech companies. It requires a continuous effort and a useful podcasting website where you can send your listeners from your show and ask for their mails.

If you want to have more control over the future of your podcast, you need to start building a mailing list.


Future of Podcasting - ads budgets

Growth of Ads Budgets will Drive the Emergence of Quality Shows for Mass Audience.

Ad spend is rising faster than predicted. 

  • 3 years ago predicted podcasting ad revenue for 2020 was at $395 million
  • 2 years ago predicted podcasting ad revenue for 2020 was at $534 million
  • 1 year ago predicted revenue was at $659 million

Most recent and conservative estimates tell us that ad revenue in 2020 will reach $863 million, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PwC. Those rapidly growing spends (and forecasts) on advertising are a positive sign for the future of podcasting.

Future of podcasting - ad business

Advertising revenue from podcasts in 2020 is projected to grow by almost 30% in the U.S alone. Between 2016 and 2020, ad revenue from podcasting is forecasted to increase by 290%.

Despite high average CPMs of $24 (according to Bridge Rating), direct-response advertisers have found that podcasts drive a strong return on investment. Ads prices on average range between $18 and $50 CPM, with the best performing shows costing even more.

Relevant post:  How to drive traffic and promote your podcast - detailed Podcast Marketing Guide

Podcasting is a desirable advertising medium for brands. Its core audience is very valuable for advertisers due to attractive disposable income, education, and age. 

On top, the host-read ads offer more organic and pleasant advertising experience. Midroll Media survey found that from 300,000 listeners, almost 63% of people bought something the host had recommended on his show.

High ad cost is a function of high engagement and customer response. And in turn, this high willingness to buy is most certainly driven by low customer fatigue. Podcasts have a much lower ad load (ads per hour) than both radio and TV.

Podcast ads per hour average at 9 minutes (spread across 9 to 18 spots). Thanks to this low number of ads, the advertiser’s message doesn’t get lost in a long “stop set” of multiple commercials. Something typical for radio and TV.

Growing ad revenue will attract more quality productions in the future. There is simply more incentive for higher paid content producers and celebrities to come to the format with their shows. Those high-quality productions will come with effectively brainstormed ideas and with sound quality that can only be achieved in a soundproofed studio.

Future of Podcasting - ads budgets pin

In the near future, we will experience a rise in podcast content studios and early consolidations. We already see initial investments in content production as the L.A.-based startup, True-Crime Content Studio Solve has raised $20 million from investors and is expanding into podcasting. 

In turn, big brands have no choice but to join the advertising format of podcasts. They can’t afford to miss out on another opportunity to reach their clients.

Popular brands like Casper and Dollars Shave Club and online services like MailChimp and Squarespace have become highly recognizable among podcast listeners due to their aggressive push into podcast advertising.

Encouraged with those successes, brands like Pepsi, Starbucks, Google, Microsoft, and Tinder have also joined in and increased their use of podcast ad format.

According to Ogilvy, now, for the first time, marketers will have no choice but to consider the audio characteristics of their brands. Large global brands coming in with massive budgets will change the future of audio ads and the future of podcasting.


In conclusion

Currently, the future is very bright for podcasting. We are in the loop of self-reinforcing behaviors:

  • More people are listening to podcasts
  • More quality shows are emerging
  • There is more money to earn in podcasting

Right now, we are experiencing growth in all aspects of the podcasting landscape. It is not in danger for the next few years. Even if we get hit by any kind of economic slowdown, the future of podcasting should remain intact.

We will most likely end up in an equilibrium where:

  • Large Podcast Directories (Apple, Spotify) spend money on exclusive content to convert clients into paying subscribers and decrease the number of royalties they pay to music studios, 
  • Add Publishers (Midroll) will refine their algorithms to match listeners with most suitable ads,
  • Brands – early adopters will enjoy lower price rates, late adopters will need to join to include podcasts in their omnichannel marketing strategies.
  • Podcast Producers and Creators will try to consolidate and streamline the production process to deliver more quality content, in terms of better audio quality and more value for the user.
About the Author
Chris Land

Chris Land

I'm the owner and creator of ImprovePodcast.com, the site dedicated to providing actionable solutions for podcast creators. My goal is helping people to develop their podcasts into effective marketing and sales tools.

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