You know every year Edison Research comes out with what's called The Infinite Dial - isn't that a cool name? The infinite dial looks at survey data that they have gathered from thousands of people. The good folks at Edison are trying to gauge how people are using online media - social media, online radio stations, and podcasting is included.
They are trying to understand people's usage habits, interests, adoption of technology and so on. You can also see from the Edison results how various aspects of the media industry are growing.
As I read these stats from year to year I see some trends that some people notice and some people don't. I feel like I have some thoughts about this I'd like to share with you because I can see happening in the podcasting industry in particular that I think are action points for podcasters like you and me. They're things that show us a little peek through the keyhole of what's coming - so that we can prepare ourselves in get our podcasts positioned in a way that we will be better off in the future.
So let's dig in!
The 2018 Infinite Dial survey shows that sixty four percent of people who were surveyed are now familiar with the idea or the term of podcasting. That's up from previous years - and it’s good news for us podcasters. Right? We can all see that you can't really participate in something if you don't know that it exists. So sixty four percent means a majority of the American public now knows what a podcast is.
So the more familiar with podcasting the public becomes, the more listeners will be available in the long run.
My prediction is that those numbers are going to continue to grow. I would not at all be surprised if the day comes maybe five years from now ten years from now when ninety to ninety five percent of the population are not only aware of what podcasting is but who actively listen to podcasts on a regular basis.
Think about it - more and more exposure is happening around the idea and practice of podcasting. There are movies now that are mentioning podcasting. Their TV shows that characters who are podcasters There are advertisements on TV for certain podcasts.
The more that kind of stuff happens, the better it is for all of us because people will become more and more aware of the fact that this thing called a podcast exists, so they might slip into Apple Podcasts or some other podcast directory and do some searching for topics that they’re interested in... and lo and behold they may find YOUR podcast if you've got optimized well.
It is only a good thing for us. It's a good thing all the way around.
The Infinite Dial stats indicate that smart phone usage and usage of similar portable devices are going up. That makes sense. I’m convinced that whatever technology may arise in the future - whether it's integrated technology in a cyborg kind of way, way you know where it's integrated into your body - it’s going to make it easier and easier for people to consume content. We podcasters have to be thinking ahead to those possibilities and do what we can to prepare.
Right now eighty three percent of people use a smartphone on a regular basis and sixty nine percent of people who listen to podcasts do so on a mobile device primarily, so that's huge.
None of that mentions the growing use of platforms like Pandora, Spotify, and others that stream content to any mobile, connected device. Let’s take Pandora for example: It has an algorithm that compiles playlists based on the type of song and artist that you enter. You don’t get to control it, the app does it for you. Imagine if that were applied to podcasts - which Pandora’s founder says is on the horizon. There is an INCREDIBLE opportunity for discover there… so we’ve got to be watching for the opportunity to get our our podcasts listed in those newer approaches and platforms.
I believe that as smart speakers continue to grow in popularity - you know what I'm talking about, Amazon Alexa and Google Home, those are just some examples of the smart speakers - podcasting is going to be even more easily consumable. Smart speaker ownership has gone up to eighteen percent, and here's an interesting piece of data, that growth is happening at a faster rate than smartphones growth did.
So think that through. It won’t be long before smart speakers are just as common as Android or iPhones.
That means the smart speaker ecosystem is a very logical target for us podcasters to be aiming for. I know Libsyn (my podcast media host) is working on a way that their customers can get what's called an “Alexa Skill” created for them. It means if you are a Libsyn customer you can apply to get certain keywords affiliated with your podcast so people can, for example, say, “Alexa play ‘whatever your keyword is’ and it would begin playing your podcast.
So keep your ears and your eyes open for those opportunities.
And to be clear, there are ways you can go into the Amazon ecosystem right now and create your own Alexis Skill. I know people are doing it and other podcasters have done it, but I think services like Libsyn are trying to come up with easier ways to make that happen - because if you have a coating background or some kind of coding skill that whole Amazon thing is going to be much easier for you if you're trying to take it on your own - but services like Libsyn or Blubrry make that easier for all of us.
So, check with your media host to see if there are ways that you can get into that smart speaker ecosystem because it's only going to make it easier for your listeners to listen to your podcast.
Edison’s research indicates what it refers to as “the share of ear.”. It has to do with what people are listening to in the limited amount of time they have TO listen. The stats make it clear, as more and more devices, platforms, podcasts, videos, social media publication tools, etc. become available, it's going to become more competitive for everyone.
To get the attention of the people who are out there listening is tough - just think about something like Netflix as an example of what’s happening right now in the podcasting space. You can scroll through the directory of movies that are available and sure, your new “movie” might be in the list, but there are so many to choose from! Even movies you can’t see on the initial pages of the app.
What’s going to keep your podcast from being one of those “not seen” entries in the podcast directories and platforms that are available? What can you do to position your podcast in more visible ways as we look to the future and the possible future tech that will come into the podcasting industry?
MY PREDICTION: It’s going to be especially hard for businesses and business related podcasts to stay competitive. Businesses are trying to make money off this thing called podcasting. They're trying to create revenue and because of that, are going to find it more and more difficult.
Why? Because the businesses that do make money are going to invest that money back into the things that are making that money - possibly their podcast. That’s going to make their podcast rise to the top simply because they have more resources to throw at the “discovery problem” and they’ll become more easily found by people who are looking for a podcast to listen to.
So just like in the commercial space, just like in TV, just like a radio, the people with the money are the ones who are going to be able to invest in the things it takes to make a podcast stand out. It's gonna become more and more competitive as the space becomes more and more crowded.
However, I do believe there is a silver lining behind this gloomy cloud.
MY PREDICTION: I've not heard many people say this but I think that niche and hobby podcasters are NOT actually going to experience the same degree of competitiveness, because a niche or hobby focus is still going to have the advantage of appealing to a very specific set of listeners.
Think it through - people who are looking for the exact topics that you are podcasting about are not typically interested in the broader range topics that the majority of culture is. They have a passion, they have this deep seeded interest in what you have to speak about.
So if you're doing a good job with your show and they enjoy the way that you present the material, you can count on your niche podcast continuing to build an audience - and I believe at a much easier and better rate than those who are podcasting about broader business type topics.
There are so many advantages to advertising on podcasts that it's hard to know where to begin in explaining all of them.
Let's start with the niche audiences that listen to podcasts. Those are very specific, self defined users of very specific products and services. They have unique interests and they have clearly identified themselves as a very niche target market.
Marketers spend a ton of time trying to narrow down a field of prospects in that way. Podcasting does it almost automatically. Why would any advertiser in their right mind not advertised on podcasts that have to do with their industry?
Let's look at another issue: compared to the cost of advertising on television or radio, podcasting is a bargain all day long. You won't find opportunities in any other form of media, not even the newspaper, that is as affordable as advertising on a podcast.
Granted, you may need to take some time to find the right podcast with the Right audience, and you may need to spend a little more effort building a relationship with podcaster who's stats you trust and whose approach to your industry is one you want to be affiliated with, but those are small things compared to the advantages.
I believe that in the future, more and more podcasters are going to be approached by advertisers who see that putting their products and services in front of the public through podcast is a Savvy business strategy. That is good news for advertisers and it is good news for podcasters.
Mark my words, you will see it happening more and more as time rolls on and is podcasting thing becomes more mainstream.
I wish I could have a nickel for everytime it happens in the future as a reward for my prediction. Oh well, at least businesses and podcasters are going to thrive as a result. They can keep their nickels.
There’s just too much information in this episode for me to cover everything in this blog post.
So I suggest you put this episode in your playlist so you can listen on your next commute or during your next workout.
This episode is filled with sound advice for anyone who wants to think ahead about the growth of their podcast and establish patterns, routines, and systems that will help them be ready for what’s coming in the future.