It will be interesting to see how 2017 predictions made by podcasting industry folks shake out in the new year. To start, Edison Research is predicting an uptick of tens of millions of monthly podcast listeners in the next 12 months.  Then, we have companies like Art19 are occupying a new, burgeoning space that connects podcast advertisers with podcast creators and serves to further encourage the use of dynamic ad insertion.  On-going technological advances in smartphone connectivity and website adaptability allow mobile marketing to grow year over year evidenced by eMarketer predicting that mobile buying will occupy 65% of the American marketplace in 2017, a gain of 7 points from 2016.

What these predictions show is that the growth and popularity of podcasts are steadily, complacently and undeniably on the rise. There are an estimated 57 million monthly podcast listeners right now, a group that has been nurtured most successfully by public radio stations and their incumbent demographics.  As that listening community grows both in number and in age, I think we will see other demographics emerge outside of the public radio sphere.  Podcasting technology is developing right in line with smartphone technology, and technologists are hurrying to establish industry-wide download standards. And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ongoing quest to determine the best way to drill down into those as-yet elusive listener behavior metrics.  

More precise ad serving technology like dynamic ad insertion and audience surveys wouldn’t be possible without the podcasters themselves cultivating and engaging their audiences.  Yes, most hosts are on all of the usual social platforms, but they’re also generating content that is deeply personal and increasingly accessible. And they are able to choose advertisers that reflect their brand. There are a couple of programming tactics that we’re starting to see in the genre. Panolply’s Revisionist History follows a narrative arc over the course of a season. On the opposite end of the spectrum, How to Raise a Girl is released on an undetermined, real-life timeline. Since 2013, the podcaster (an anonymous mother) has spooled out her own true-life journey raising a transgender child in Seattle.

A lot of podcasts are also working on figuring out ways to incorporate video into their offerings, either by filming episodes and having that footage behind a paywall and in some cases bundled with “bonus” content, or conversely streaming for free on Facebook and Periscope. The display ad spend on mobile versus desktop has tipped to mobile’s side, with video more-than-likely to follow suit this year.  Of course many industry wonks cite the amorphous “millennial” demo as the most desired demographic to pursue, but I think that in this Wild West of podcasting there are a multitude of listener groups that are worth exploring.  Keeping an “earball” on trends in podcast technology development, usage rates and digital ad spend overall will be the key to driving success.

Lizzi and BRINK’s Engagement Director Caroline Jackson recorded some audio about their favorite podcasts, why they love the medium and what they’re seeing change about the podcasting. Listen to their conversation – recorded on January 24, 2017.

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