Our Managing Director, Sharon Taylor, shares some thoughts and predictions for the burgeoning medium.
At the end of last year, our Omny Studio team put together a product retrospective, looking back at developments and other milestones achieved over the past 12 months within our Omny Studio podcast platform. Despite its turbulent nature, 2020 was a good year for podcasting overall and not just our product roadmap.
Just like our team, podcasting rose to meet the challenges thrown its way. As working from home and disruption to routine became our new normal, podcast producers and listeners made it clear that podcasting was here to stay — creating and enjoying, respectively, more content than ever before.
2020 in Retrospect
If you haven’t read Dave Zohrob from Chartable’s blog post outlining how podcasts “powered through the pandemic”, we cannot recommend it highly enough. Of all the outlined positives the medium experienced in 2020 (increased ad revenue, new advertisers, and more downloads), it’s this stat that stood out for me: — “almost 2 podcasts were started every minute, throughout the entire year!”.
Handily charted, that looks a bit like this:
Look at that growth!
In the blog, Chartable rightly points out that not all those podcasts have made it through the dreaded “podfade” but the majority are still going in 2021.
Which is great, because there is certainly a voracious appetite for more voice and audio content right now.
What does stand out to us from these portraits of both increased demand and supply (can we get a “market equilibrium, what what” from all the economists in the room), is that all the things podcasting needed before 2020 are going to be so much more important in 2021.
Thought finding a new podcast was tough when there were just a few hundred thousand of them floating around? How about over 1 million of them? Or 2 million?
Discovery of new shows is going to need new user interfaces and content surfacing algorithms (check out Podz for some inspiration), an increased focus on marketing tactics by creators, and maybe some hard conversations around whose cart to attach your (pod)horse to.
Simply getting featured by Apple Podcasts is not going to be the golden ticket to success anymore (not that anything has ever been a golden ticket to success in this industry). And with the platform wars soaring to inferno- level temperatures this year, we should perhaps expect to see some changes to editorial priorities as well.
And how best to monetize all those new shows in the year ahead?
With podcast content creation at an all-time high, and if you adhere to the notion that the top 1% of podcasts receive 99% of downloads, what do all those shows not in the top 1% do? Sponsorships and live reads will always drive the highest CPMs and be of best quality — no arguments on that. But I do believe that we’re going to start seeing some serious growth in programmatic over the next 12 months. More than we’re already seeing…
Even if only a fraction of the dollars predicted and percentage of total podcast ad spending become a reality, that’s a serious change for the industry. The challenge, which FWIW we believe we are worthy of rising to, will be quality and relevance in the ads available in programmatic exchanges.
Our hope is that programmatic becomes less of a dirty word for podcasting in 2020 and more of a means to give those longer tail publishers (or popular back catalogues) more of the money currently being left on the table. Not to mention getting advertisers not currently in the space, involved.
Of course, the natural antithesis to paid advertising (programmatic or otherwise) is to go create premium content for paid subscribers or supporters. Some have tried, sure. But more will try in the year ahead. The question now is whether to become part of a walled garden or be your own.
With the increase in podcast content available, will we see shifts in listening habits across devices this year? Downloads by device have largely been consistent year- over- year, with mobile (and iOS) remaining at the top. Below shows how downloads of podcasts hosted by Omny Studio split across devices in 2019 and 2020.
When we look at those numbers, we see an opportunity for a podcast creator to do something interesting in the smart speaker space — a new format of show or way to engage with listeners perhaps. If existing formats haven’t put smart speaker listening into double digits yet, who will be first to find a format that will?
And then, the million-dollar question — what will the giants do? Consolidation seems to have been the theme of the last couple of years, with most of the titans buying something or other in the podcast space. 2021 will be the year in which they need to start executing on those acquisitions and start seeing meaningful results — whether that’s with improvements to content programming, technology, monetization, or all the above. Spotify has already announced a slew of plans for 2021 — what will the counter moves be?
Looking at platform listening across Omny-downloaded podcasts in 2019 and 2020, we’ve seen big growth from Spotify.
So far, Apple has been able to hold onto the top spot — will we see that change this year as these competitors take further steps? And how many new logos of prominent media and technology companies could we see at the end of 2021?
The bucket we are most keeping our eyes on this year is “Other”, which includes apps like iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Castbox, Podcast Addict and PocketCasts. Though cumulatively for Omny they may have dropped in market share since 2019, that grouping of apps still holds just under one whole quarter of podcast listening in the ecosystem — who will grow, who won’t and who will consolidate are all questions on my mind in 2020.
Our Own Year Ahead
Whatever the year has in store for podcasting, our mission at Triton Digital and Omny Studio remains the same — to provide the highest quality of enterprise tools an audio publisher needs to succeed in 2021.
With a roadmap packed full of new features and functionality for our clients, we’re excited for the year ahead.
Thank you to all our users, both existing and those to come, for continuing to trust us as your partner in the space. Here’s to you and podcasting in 2021.