Podcasts: Netflix For The Ears?

William Black

I struggle to recall the last time I sat down to watch terrestrial TV (aside from a few sporting events). My TV has recently become an extension of my phone or tablet, with apps such as YouTube and Netflix providing an excellent native experience on the larger screen. I find myself adding feature-length videos from the likes of Casey Neistat to my “watch later” playlist on YouTube during the week so I can enjoy them on the big screen during my down time. At this rate, Netflix may just kill off terrestrial TV with its ambitious growth targets, plethora of Netflix Original content, and unmatchable user experience.

That’s where we are with video – on-demand isn’t the future, it’s the present. And just as Netflix and other video-on-demand services have changed the way we watch content, podcasts are changing the way we listen to it.

Lately, I’ve been stockpiling podcasts to listen to on longer journeys. Whether sports-related, business-related, or comedy – the choices are increasingly daily, and it’s a breeze to zone in and find a topic that will hold your interest for a considerable period of time.

For businesses, podcasts are a great opportunity to connect with your audience at a low cost and with a high engagement rate: 85% of listeners report that they listen to most or all of an entire podcast episode.

A study conducted by Edison Research this year shows a steady increase in the number of people listening to podcasts. You can read the full study here.

Big players are taking advantage of the upward trend in using podcasting as a marketing tool:

General Electric (GE) captured a huge audience with its podcast, “The Message.” Targeting sci-fi fans, the series also gave GE an opportunity to tell listeners about their Sonic technology. The campaign was downloaded more than 4 million times, garnering 187 million earned media impressions and becoming the most listened to branded content podcast in history.

Launched in October 2016, software company Slack has produced 26 episodes to date of its podcast “Work in Progress.” The series focuses on the role that work plays in people’s lives, which aligns with Slack’s own missions and values. Director of content and editorial Julie Kim gave insight in an interview as to why they started the series: “The goal here is to introduce new people to Slack, not necessarily to introduce these stories to existing Slack fans and users.”

There are lots of reasons to start a podcast but here are some of the most compelling:

  • Podcasting has a low cost of entry—grab a decent desk microphone or use your phone to record on the fly.
  • There is steady and rising adoption of podcasts as a means of consuming audio.
  • Podcasting gives you another way to tell your story to an engaged “opted-in” audience.
  • The previously cited examples of companies prove that podcasting is successful and there is an opportunity to make a big impact.

For anyone interested, here are some business-related podcasts that I find interesting:


William Black

About William Black

William Black is a partner service advisor and marketing specialist for the PSD organization at SAP. His specialties include digital marketing, social media, and marketing strategy. Connect with William on LinkedIn and Twitter @WBlack_Mktg