According to latest Ofcom stats, around 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to podcasts every week. That’s one in eight people, an increase of 24% over the past year – and more than double over the past five years. The Ofcom research also found that half of listeners have only joined the podcast wave in the last two years. Perhaps this supports what your mother might have said to you as a child….“There’s a reason you have two ears!”
With our insatiable desire for content 24/7, it’s no surprise that most of podcast listening happens on-the-go. Smartphones are the preferred device for listening to podcasts with a share of 65% of the listening hours (Rajar, 2019). In an already saturated world, we feel we need to fill every waking hour with ‘entertainment’, learning or another good use of time. What has happened to idle brain time to daydream whilst we commute, staring blankly out the window of the bus or train. Dare I mention how us Brits queue and used to moan about it, now we’re probably valuing the chance to catch up on our latest download.
It is short sighted however, to think that this medium is “going mainstream”. Podcasts retain the unique ability to explore even the most niche of subjects and notable that some of these obscure topics would never have made it onto radio because it’s unlikely they would command a big enough audience to make it commercially viable. Plus the makeup and intention is not inherently the same as the radio airwaves. In fact 96% of podcast listeners still listen to the radio weekly (OfCom, 2018) – podcasts are not the competition.
As you might expect, the natural fanbase sits within the millennial and Gen Xs but not exclusively so. The most popular genre of podcast is entertainment, followed by comedy, then music, TV and film (Ofcom, 2018). News is certainly due to chip into these percentages before long with this week’s announcement from News UK and The Times’ ‘Stories of our Times,’ alongside the launch of Times Radio – a propos the point that there’s certainly a place for both channels to sit alongside one another.
What we find fascinating about this platform is that in terms of brand communications, does its one on one engagement get any better? A fully engaged audience proactively choosing to download your content to hear what you’ve got to say – Yes please say brand marketers across the globe. There’s a ‘but’ of course. For podcasts to really work in our view, they have to be arresting, captivating and have the power to tease so listeners come back for more – just like episodic TV – the content needs to hook us in and cut through the noise.
We believe this is because this medium really involves the audience. When you listen, you need to imagine the visual and therefore you’re almost co-creating the content – the pinnacle of two way engagement. You can learn a new skill, digest a new piece of information or simply find a useful way to fill your downtime all in the name of wellbeing whether it be meditation or a belly full of laughs.
So with this in mind, we’re all ears.
In an era of hypertasking, ads and information overload, where we can choose to consume content when and where we want and equally block or turn off the noise, brands are turning to connect with their audiences in a variety of ways. Of particular interest are methods where they can regain the driving seat when it comes to messages they want us to see, hear and take away. Cue branded video, take three. Or is it five?
Both content marketing strategy and branded content are clearly not new to the party in 2020, but it’s the clever stuff that will stand out in the year to come. The use of tailored copy to improve visibility for businesses or individuals is now entrenched as a fundamental building block of comms. Even companies taking charge of audio is no longer an out of the ordinary comms vehicle, but accessible to all. Podcasts are now so commonplace in business that the bigger ask is to separate the valuable from the rest of the pack when it comes to curating your on regular ‘must listen’ chart. But a focus on true and inspired video – which can elevate a brand and its voice in a unique way, rather than amplifying another medium’s creative, remains somewhat elusive. There’s lots of video around from film quality spots and games, but how much of it really makes you stop scrolling or multitasking and take notice? Much of what has been out there tips the scales too far in the brand’s favour to be truly engaging as anything other than a de facto advert, by another name. Or, the bumpers and sponsored idents around content have been brand name checks only, bearing just a passing resemblance to the content itself. Could this be the year where the fulcrum balances in the middle?
If branded content is not about products and services but values, makes use of storytelling and designed to encourage engagement and facilitating an emotional connection, to be consumed voluntarily, then two campaigns have caught our eye so far this year – and it’s not even the end of January yet. Both the Creme Egg streaming service and the Greenpeace Aardman turtles video speak to a marriage of brand, medium and a creative team working in equal harmony. It’s clear that from concept onwards, both parties in brand and production have been working properly hand in hand rather than on two separate streams.
There’s also a clear communication of intent and purpose. Creme eggs have positioned themselves firmly ‘for the fans’ for years now, so the launch of a dedicated egg-focused streaming content platform exclusively for its eggheads is both playful and true to the brand. Whereas Aardman’s partnership with Greenpeace speaks to a genuine purpose to draw attention to an overlooked ecological area, without commercial considerations or hidden motives. It’s raising awareness for nature’s sake. If these genuine and true partnership elements are both present when production meets brand, it could be the ideal date to kick off a lasting relationship. After all, we’ve all heard the monologues about brand purpose being rooted in a genuine understanding of the brand, and how it needs to be sustained to be credible – rather than good will washing a company or organisations image.
At this rate, this year looks set to show us still more perfect partners of production and brand purpose. We say – bring it on. Standout examples of what happens when great minds come together in unison are few and far between. Let’s celebrate making them the norm instead – and help brand comms and the production industry to go from strength to strength at the same time.
International production company BlackBox Multimediaappoints Franklin Rae PR
January 2020: Franklin Rae PR has been appointed to promote television production and development company BlackBox Multimedia through a proactive PR programme whi ch harnesses its positioning as an ‘international one-stop shop mini studio’ for its partnerships and co-productions.
BlackBox Multimedia creates and produces scripted content with a focus on localised production that maintains global appeal for international audiences. As the specialist PR agency for the film, television and entertainment industry, Franklin Rae is working closely with BlackBox Multimedia to identify and drive targeted awareness of its proposition and expertise in international production, as well as its creative cross-fertilization and strategic partnership operations.
Giuliano Papadia, CEO and Creative Director of BlackBox Multimedia, comments, “As a company which focuses on storytelling in our productions, our aim is to create high-end scripted drama with local partners that can resonate with audiences across the globe. Franklin Rae has a thorough understanding of the industry and we are looking forward to working with an agency which demonstrates such passion for our mission and our beliefs.”
“It is very exciting to join the journey and deliver BlackBox Multimedia the limelight that the business’ phenomenally broad and high-quality slate deserves. It is always a pleasure to work with such a well-connected international production network, behind which are some of the leading minds in the industry today.” adds Holly Miller, PR Consultant at Franklin Rae, who leads the account.
For any further comment or information please contact:
Holly Miller, Franklin Rae PR | [email protected], 020 3011 1023