Podcasts are big news right now and are only set to get bigger, with everyone from journalists to comedians, musicians to bloggers creating their own downloadable shows. We’re podcast mad – so we thought we’d share our faves with you and some thoughts on why podcasts are something to think about.
6 million adults listen to a podcast in a week
Podcasting (aka “audioblogging”) dates back to the 80s, with an influx in the early noughties following the advent of broadband and portable listening devices like the iPod. So why are they enjoying such popularity right now?
In part, it’s to do with developments in technology. In a culture of instant gratification, we have access to everything at the tip of our fingers or click of a button – and so we expect content to be available on demand. Combine this with our inseparable relationship with our smartphones which enable easy access to on-the-go, commuter-friendly podcasts (over half of users listen to podcasts whilst travelling ) and we have a content stream that very much meets our needs.
Beyond its technological convenience, the long-form audio format comes as a breath of fresh air for over-stimulated users who need a break from highly visual social media and the pace of online news. Podcasts present an opportunity to plug in, zone out and disconnect from the world, take some time for yourself and listen to the latest gossip / current affairs / subject you’ve been wanting to learn about for months / anything that tickles your fancy, in a relatively ad-free zone.
(OK, so there’s the occasional sponsorship ad thrown in, but *that* phenomenon could be a whole other post in itself – watch this space.)
What’s more, there’s so much choice – literally something for everyone. From the BBC’s hugely diverse output, to insight from favourite musicians, comedians, magazine editors (Jo Elvin is fab) and more, individual creatives and brands alike are seizing the opportunity to engage people in a different way.
All this goes some way towards dismantling the ubiquitous claim that attention spans are getting shorter. Rather: there’s more choice than ever, and time-poor consumers are being selective.
In a world where content consumption is at an all time high, podcasts give brands an opportunity to cut through the noise and make an intimate connection with their audiences. There’s no schedule to meet, no premium slot to fight for. Given this freedom, brands can take their time to create content with more depth and emotion than ever before for a truly captive audience of podcast listeners. It’s a way of connecting that’s all about the experience, and you can read more about this in Emily’s post here.
The intimate nature of podcasts generates a sense of intimacy, nurturing closer relationships and building trust between consumer and brand. And it’s working too – with 75% of listeners taking action on occasional sponsored messages when they are exposed to them. A one-step action to subscribe (or unsubscribe) also affords brands a fast-track insight into follower engagement.
Podcasts are enabling brands to reach new audiences too. A free download is a low-risk point of entry for the rail passenger who’s sick of the Metro or the time-poor commuter on the road, and the audio format caters to them perfectly.
This medium is a great way for brands and individuals to diversify their output or change perceptions – all avenues that open up doors to new audiences and opportunities. Big brand or small, podcast content is on the rise and it’s something that at mark-making* we can’t get enough of. See below for our favourite subscriptions, why we’re loving them and how to find them:
The High Low – Fran
The High Low is a weekly pop-culture and news podcast hosted by journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. With an equal balance of current gossip and the harder-hitting cultural happenings, The High Low is based on the belief that a life well lived is “one that enjoys both the trivial and the political”. I love love love this podcast for a thousand reasons, with the main being the hosts: two immensely relatable women who bring informed opinions to each discussion (which allow my sometimes less-informed self to decide my own opinion on a matter), who inject humour at all levels, but know when a more serious tone is needed. With great topics and great guest speakers, this podcast is the perfect place for an hour (which is never enough!) of escapism in the car, on a walk or as you go about day-to-day life.
A live podcast about front-end web design and UX starring Dave Rupert and Chris Coyier. Covering all aspects of the areas I work in within my career, the content is something I’m interested in listening to and can relate with.
It’s Nice That – Tom
Released quarterly, It’s Nice That podcast is hosted by Will Hudson and Alex Bec. Each episode tackles a different topic from the art and design scene, from the role design plays in political campaigns through to the psychology, production and trends of how colour has an effect on our behaviour. Frequently inviting respected artists and designers to contribute to discussion, this hour long podcast helps to broaden the understanding of the creative industry without coming across too pretentious. I’m sure my ears are grateful for the occasional break from hip hop during the working day.
Desert Island Discs – Emily W
Two of my fascinations – people and music – come together into this very special programme (repurposed as podcast for those of us who can’t commit to a Sunday morning). It boils down to a range of high profile people choosing either tracks that mean something to them, opening a window into their life you’ve rarely seen before. The narrative relaxes the likes of Dame Minouche Shafik and David Beckham into talking in a much more intimate way than you perhaps have heard or seen before. The emotive power of music and connecting the story behind that choice is beautiful, poignant and funny, and why it’s been running for 75 years – all with the undercurrent of imagining yourself marooned on a desert island. Don’t get me started on the gem that is Kirsty Young…
Serial – Chloe
An oldie (ish) but a goodie, hosted by Sarah Koenig and made by American public radio programme This American Life. “Serial tells one story—a true story—over the course of a season. Each season, we follow a plot and characters wherever they take us. We won’t know what happens at the end until we get there, not long before you get there with us. Each week we bring you the next chapter in the story, so it’s important to listen to the episodes in order.” There are two seasons to enjoy. And when you’ve finished those, check out the incredible S-Town, from the same makers.