At the start of 2017, Rawvoice, a data firm that tracks 20,000 podcast shows, reported that 75 million people listed to its podcasts each month, and in the UK alone, statistics show that 4.7 million people download a podcast every week. Squarespace, MailChimp and Casper were all quick to jump on the podcast medium when it first started escalating in popularity, advertising their services across several high-profile podcasts (including Serial and Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour) for significant chunks of time - ensuring legions of previously unfamiliar listeners became aware of their products.
But with brands are having to work harder than ever to integrate messages, advertisements, and branded content as seamlessly as possible into potential customers’ lives, this sort of flat advertising is fast becoming a thing of the past. Instead, innovative brands are seeking new ways to win audio audiences as podcasts increasingly prove to be the perfect medium within which brands can subtly advertise and win mobile consumers all whilst staying true to their brand identity. Here we look at five examples of brands winning big at their podcast game.
The workplace messaging platform created its own podcast, The Slack Variety Pack, in a clever move to create something of value which its users could listen too while going about their daily jobs. The podcast explores work, the people and teams who do amazing work together, office culture, innovation in the workplace, and our modern society, making it the perfect way for Slack to shout out loud about what it does best – bring work teams together– rather than relying on the written word.
IBM’s monthly podcast, Wild Ducks, shares stories about innovation in science and business in ways that just so happen to align with the products and services the company sells. The move to audio content was a smart one for the firm which launched the PC in 1981 - aligning it with a new generation of listeners who may not have otherwise been familiar with the brand or its products.
General Electric’s first podcast, The Message, ran from October to November 2015 and netted 4.4 million downloads in its two month life span, prompting the company to release a second serial-format podcast in late 2016. Its newest offering, LifeAfter, follows a widower trying to connect with his late wife using voice recordings uploaded to a fictional audio social platform called VoiceTree - a direct reference to a piece of GE software called Digital Twin which is used by the manufacturing industry to create digital versions of heavy equipment.
Aiming to catch the attention of potentially stressed, harried and/or jetlagged travellers, the Stories of the InterContinental Life podcast shares stories about travel which traverse different themes and emotions (many of which are entwined with significant historical events) and which all revolve around the InterContinental Hotel chain in some way. The podcast is geared at providing frequent travellers with some respite, and the hotel chain hopes the subtle branding will win it new customers along the way.
Moving the traditional gossip column off the page and directly into the ears of listeners, The Sun’s new Bizarre Life podcast sees its Associate Editor and Showbiz columnist, Dan Wootton, host exclusive interviews with the world’s biggest stars each week, ensuring the UK’s most popular showbiz column reaches new audiences away from the paper's normal readers. The podcast is produced by the independent content production, talent management and post production company, Wisebuddah who already boast a roster of audio clients including O2, Microsoft, Ladybird Books, and Pizza Express.