What makes a successful (and profitable) podcast? #RadioAlive2019

Similar to the age old question of what came first the chicken or the egg, when we think of podcasting, we can ask the same question – what came first, the content or the revenue? 
Chaired by Jamie Chaux from Commercial Radio Australia, four speakers start discussing how people are using podcasts and how advertisers are integrating into on-demand audio.
“It was 12 months ago when we talked about podcasting on this stage.  So what has changed in the last 12 months,” begins Chaux.
“We have seen an excellent increase in revenue, driven by quality content”, says Jay Walkerden from Nova Entertainment.
Grant Tothill is Head of Podcast One for Southern Cross Austereo. “We’ve seen a lot of education and understanding podcasting as a medium.  We are starting to see fruits of our labour and advertisers are now reaching people that can’t reach on other mediums.”
“For most of us podcasting is not new, but for most podcasting is still very new, “
adds Corey Layton, Head of Integration and Partnerships for ARN.
It is clear from the discussion that unique content is leading the way.  And with demand growing for podcasts, it is now up to networks to match the two – content and revenue.
Mark Lollback is from GroupM Australia and talks about clients and their relationships with podcasting.
We are in an exciting time in all media, innovation is exciting.  Clients are struggling with budgets, and they are exploring what role podcasting can play in their marketing mix.”
“Podcasting is an opportunity for brands to get involved.  And it’s a fact that Australians tends to adopt new technologies quicker than other countries.  Hence their fascination with podcasting”, continues Lollback.
“Advertisers want a large, engaged audience”, adds Walkerden.
So where do commercial considerations come into play?
“It has to be at the start,” says Walkerden.
“We consider whether we are going to get an audience (during the pitch), then we look at commercial opportunities,” adds Tothill.
 “You bring the audiences in (through unique content), and advertisers will follow,” Lollback adds.

The next session focussed on what you need these days to create a successful podcast, and how you can use podcasting to grow your radio audiences.  Joining Mark Hales (Nova) were Kelli Riordan (ABC), Kate Montague (Audiocraft), and Jennifer Goggin (Southern Cross Austereo).

“The next big thing in podcasting is audio fiction”, begins Montague.
“Yes, we’re gearing up in this space too”, adds Riordan.  Audio fiction is bringing Hollywood style production to Podcasts, including film and television stars like Rami Malek.
While there is still success in podcasts such as true crime, new ideas are not simply about thinking you have a great idea.
“The phrase ‘I have a great idea for a podcast’ is banned in my office.  It’s first about identifying an audience opportunity or gap in the market, then going from there”, says Riordan.
“But the real challenge for new podcasters is understanding what is different between radio and podcasting”, adds Goggin. 
“The challenge for radio talent who move to podcasting is that you’re literally in people’s ears as they listen mainly via earphones.  So you have to bring your level back a bit.”
Networks are pitched hundreds of podcast ideas each year.  So what makes a pitch stand out from the crowd?
“When pitching, I love to hear ideas that tap into something different,” says Riordan.
“I want to be able to hear what they’re pitching and how it will sound in episode six.  Being niche and specific works”, adds Goggin.
“You also have to think whether podcast is the right medium for the idea.  Be clear about who the audience is,” says Montague.
While there is no secret recipe to a successful podcast, the consensus is that it’s all about identifying a gap in the market.  But it seems there is one key learning from successful podcasts.
“People connect best with lived experiences. That’s what podcasts and radio do so well,” concludes Riordan.



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