I have a distinct memory from my university days – and many hazy ones – but the afternoon drive home from Caulfield to the Eastern Suburbs would often coincide with listening to Martin Molloy and knowing exactly which other car drivers were listening via synchronised laughter. Fast forward 20 years and it’s now the ability to know exactly who is listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno.
While Rocky Flintstone would expect this blog would be tribute to his writing skills, it’s more about understanding the rise of the podcast and what’s driven this. Whether it’s Serial, S Town, Reply All, Pod Save America or Hamish & Andy – the podcast revolution has well and truly begun.
Before we look at the reasons why we’re seeing such adoption, here’s some of the facts we know about podcasts in Australia.
What we don’t know (yet!) is the % of Australians who have listened to a podcast but 21% of the US population had listened to a podcast in the last month – an increase from the 15% in 2014. You would expect similar numbers in Australia – in 2016, Mamamia had 7 million downloads!
An ABC Audience Insight Survey was completed in 2016 amongst current Australian podcast listeners. Within the findings amongst podcasters, they’re listening to an average of 5.5 podcasts a week. News, Current Affairs and Politics is the most popular genre with evenings the most popular time to listen. Experimentation is clearly evident with a third listening to a new podcast in the last week.
So why the popularity – and especially in Australia
They’re free: I wouldn’t want to categorise Australians as a being tight but … In work The Interpreters have done this year across varied categories, what often separates Australians globally, is this constant desire for value for money. It’s our continued love of the retail catalogue to find bargains, it’s the adoption of click and collect over home delivery as doesn’t cost us anything, it’s a love of a comparison website to help reinforce our decision. Podcasts don’t cost us anything so the risk to our valuable time and wallet is gone.
Bite sized: our attention spans are getting shorter (is anyone still reading this post?) and we’ve got more competing for our attention. The fact that a podcast can be complimentary to other activities and unlike the radio, we can pause and restart at any time, fits into our need for the simple.
Delivers the content we crave: there’s no surprise News, Current Affairs and Politics was most popular within Australia. If we look at a typical weekday Channel 9 programming schedule, of the 12 hours between 7am and 7pm, 4 hours are not News or Current Affairs – quite staggering. So if we haven’t had our fill from television, we can add to it in the evening when listening to podcasts. The range of content also drives our listening – there’s no shortage of topics that are relevant, we can use it to catch up of content we might have missed during the day and we can explore.
They tell us stories: a good podcast can feel like we’re exchanging stories with a friend. It’s an intimate session where we can take the time to listen. The Interpreters mission is to tell stories from research as we know that regardless of the person or their position, a story is a more effective means to get a message across. Podcasts have that same ability to create a bond with their ‘customers’. This is why brands are quickly getting on board when it comes to podcasts – from advertising within to branded content – the humble podcast is becoming an attractive medium for advertisers. The challenge though is to ensure they’re complimentary, not contradictory, to the content.
The same ABC Audience Insight research identified that 50% of current podcast listeners discovered new podcasts via word of mouth, so if you have any recommendations for us – get in touch. For everyone apart from my mother reading this blog, I highly recommend you download My Dad Wrote A Porno and smile when you see the person on the train, tram, bus or walking chuckling away when Belinda blinks!
By Paul Dixon