In an age where many print publishers are struggling to remain viable as they navigate the transition from a print to digital-based economy, podcasting has risen in prominence, rapidly proving that it can be a sustainable revenue stream for publishers.
Magazine publisher Bauer Media is now staging something of a return to its radio roots by delving deeper into podcasting as it too acknowledges the significance of developing another diversified revenue stream to add to its already broad range of offerings.
In the past month, the publisher has added two new weekly podcast series, for a total of 73 podcasts. One, “Grazia Life Advice,” is an extension of its weekly fashion magazine Grazia and features successful women sharing advice. The podcast gets 10,000 weekly downloads, according to the publisher, which is above average compared to many of Bauer’s previously launched podcasts.
In an interview with Digiday, Vicky Foster, commercial director for digital at Bauer Media commented, “Podcasts have that escapism factor. We can use them to connect in a personal and engaging way with who we partner with.”
Roughly two dozen of Bauer’s podcasts are now sponsored, with advertisers running messages within the main body of the show or with podcast content developed to fit their brand objectives.
Can podcasting become a sustainable revenue stream?
Podcasts first arrived on the digital scene in 2004, not long after the introduction of Apple’s iPod. At the time, it was known as “audioblogging” and served as an auditory subset of the digital journaling phenomenon. Fast-forward to 2018 and podcast audiences have rocketed – more than 6 million people in the UK listen to podcasts every week according to a report carried out by Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR).
Despite this figure, the UK has one of the smaller appetites for podcasts, with 18 percent listening to podcasts monthly compared to 33 percent in the US. Indeed, a staggering 67 million Americans listen to podcasts each year. That’s up 14 percent year-on-year according to a study carried out by Edison research. The company also found that 42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, representing 15 percent of the country’s population.
As more companies integrate podcasts into their marketing mix, streaming apps and smart home devices like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Amazon Echo are also leveraging podcasts to accommodate user interest in publishing storytelling. Streaming services like Spotify and even digital media players like Apple TV have also added podcasting to their membership menus, opening publishers up to further podcasting opportunities.
Podcasting has its limitations with advertisers, though. A lack of standardized measurement and tracking has hampered its growth. Advertisers also are wary of intruding in such an intimate medium. “Loosely, podcasts are probably between 5 and 10 percent of audio streaming ad spend, so it’s a slice of a piece from a slice of a piece,” says Charlie Yeates, commercial trading director at MediaCom.