Podcasting is a crowded market - there are now more than 800,000 active podcasts with more than 54 million podcast episodes available worldwide, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital.
Although news podcasts account for smaller market space, they outperform all other podcast categories in terms of listenership. But what makes a good publisher podcast and how can they be used to support your overall brand strategy?
"Publishers have an advantage when launching a podcast because they already have a loyal audience," said Peter Houston who runs media consultancy firm Flipping Pages Media and co-hosts The Media Voices podcast.
Houston speaks from a place of knowledge - not only does he listen to "dozens of podcasts every month", he also co-founded The Publisher Podcast Awards that aim to spotlight the best media industry podcasts.
When assessing the contenders, the panel of 31 judges looks at publishing criteria like production quality or how the podcast fits the media brand. However, a show is sometimes simply enjoyable even if production is not perfect. This can gain the shortlisted candidates some extra points.
"Stay true to your brand values in terms of how you serve your audience," advised Houston.
"Give them something you don’t give them online or in the paper — provide added value. Access to top guests who can share their knowledge is what drives podcasts.
"One thing that certainly doesn’t work is taking your paper or magazine and read it as a podcast, except for, perhaps, the Guardian’s Audio Long Reads," he jokes.
An audio show gives you an opportunity to experiment with new formats or conversation topics that you can then bring to your main publishing platform. You can discover what your audience is interested in, and even use the podcast to drive subscriptions like the Atlantic or the Economist.
"Podcast metrics are not great, which makes it hard for publishers to understand who are the listeners, where they come from, how they find you — we know nothing."
His team at Media Voices learns more about the audience from the newsletter analytics then podcast hosting platforms, which is a method more publishers are exploring.
With the growing number of podcasts launched every week, are we close to saturation point?
"From all podcasts that get launched, 80 per cent don’t go past episode seven,” said Houston.
“If you survive, you learn to do it better and we will probably end up with the system where you have trusted podcasts the same way you have trusted publishers."
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