Podcasting looks set to become increasingly popular with brands who want to build stronger connections with their audience.

Acast has established itself as a leading podcast platform and already hosts podcasts from the likes of Vodafone, Domino’s Pizza and Asos. The platform currently works with approximately 100 brands – but Ross Adams, Head of Acast in the UK, believes this will double in 2016 and lead to its revenues going up threefold.

The organisation is confident as its number of streams and downloads per month currently stands at 24 million – which is 364 per cent up on the previous year’s figure. Furthermore, it has established itself as a leader in the market, with more than half of all commercial podcasts in the UK being hosted on the free-to-use platform.

Mr Adams believes this shows the podcast market is on a strong upwards curve and that more brands will look to take advantage of this means of engaging with their audience.

“Brands are realising that podcasts can offer a unique one-to-one engagement,” he commented. “It is about as personal as marketing can get as the listener is truly engaged if they are prepared to listen to long-form content. This is the golden age for podcasts. If you look at the Kermode and Mayo film reviews show on BBC Radio Five, the podcast listeners have caught up with the live show; soon they will overtake them completely.”

However, Mr Adams stressed that in order to build a loyal audience, podcast creators must make sure their output is the right length.

“Podcasts are on average 46 minutes long so people won’t just click on such a long-form piece of content at a whim,” he said.

Mr Adams also pointed out that brands need to entice people to listen by creating a “cool trailer” for the podcast, or post some art from the content on social media platforms such as Instagram.

Create podcast for the right reasons

The temptation for brands in the face of an emerging promotional tool is to embrace it purely for the sake of it. However, one brand has warned against this approach and said podcasts shouldn’t be created purely as part of a box-ticking exercise.

Online fashion retailer Asos launched its own series of podcasts earlier this year and these have proved a resounding success, with 2,000 people subscribing and more than 30,000 listening.

Lucinda Greasley, Managing Editor at Asos, said it moved into podcasts as it seemed like a “natural progression” for its Big Idea feature in its magazine, which focuses on young female entrepreneurs. “So we just started recording the interviews and developing them into podcasts,” she commented.

However, Ms Greasley said the key to its success was having a proper strategy towards content, rather than adopting an ad hoc approach. “Having a content team in place will help but you can’t just make a podcast purely because everybody else has one or you’ll fail,” she stated.

Ms Greasley argued that instead of simply wanting to add another channel to the marketing mix, a brand needs a strong idea and a unique personality, or else it will just be “adding to the noise.”

“All the girls that do the Asos podcast work at Asos, so they are bringing a voice to our brand,” she remarked.

Ms Greasley went on to stress that creating podcasts is not easy and that brands need to be patient before they see firm results. This, she stated, is because podcasts can be a “slow burner” whereas social media is much more instant.

Nevertheless, Ms Greasley pointed out that podcast creation doesn’t have to be “hugely time consuming to pull off. If you record something that has the right content and great quality, you will drive engagement eventually,” she added.

Why the time is right for brands to embrace podcasts Marketing Week