View Twitter chat schedule: #SMTLive

Are Podcasts the New Video Content?


image credit: HubSpot

Has podcasting gone the way of audio cassettes, walkmans, and other obsolete ways to consume content? The answer appears to be a resounding no. In fact, podcasting appears to have usurped the roles of infographics and video among industry discussions of multi-media branded content. A recent survey by The Social Media Examiner (SME) of 300 industry professionals found that 24% of marketers intend to begin using more podcasts in the next 12 months; an 800% increase over the 3% who are currently using the tactic:

audio content

Image Credit: Frederic Gonzalo

Additionally, 32% expressed an interest in exploring the platform as a possibility. SME President Mike Stelzner recently stated in an interview that podcasting would in fact be among the hottest trend in branded content marketing in the year to come.While only time will tell whether brands actively implement the trend, or whether consumer demand will pace marketers’ interest, it certainly begs the question: are podcasts the new video content?

The Rise and Fall of Podcasts

Podcasts first burst into prominence around 2005, as consumer demand for audio files drastically rose. However, Facebook brand pages and talk of Twitter for business quickly took center stage among web workers, and savvy marketers wisely focused their attention on delivering visual forms of multimedia content to match the growing dominance of YouTube as a content sharing platform. Several prominent marketers have recently begun releasing branded podcasts, including Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, and Stelzner. As Jeff Bullas puts it, “where there is smoke, there is fire.” The possibility certainly appears to be worth exploring.

Podcasts are Mobile

As the world becomes increasingly mobile, the types of content marketing that are most-consumed will be those available on the go. Bullas has clearly mapped the soaring interest in podcasting to near-ubiquitous adoption of mobile technology by consumers. Mobile web traffic on data networks grew 70% last year; and mobile usage in January 2012 alone exceeded all web traffic in 2012.

While the average length of an American commute has remained largely unchanged since 2000, vehicle manufacturers are turning towards options for content consumption on-the-go. Over 90 percent of new cars sold in the US have an option for iPod or mobile device integration. Marketers have a built-in audience for their podcasts, and unlike visual content, the potential for consumption isn’t limited to times when a consumer can direct their entire attention to their smartphone screen.

Podcasts Support Multi-Screen Use

Content marketing for the future may have to support the needs of a consumer who pays much less attention. A late 2012 study by Google found that 90% of consumers move between devices to accomplish a single goal. Time online is typically spread across four devices; smartphone, tablet, PC, and television. The recent rise of shorter branded video content and Twitter’s Vine app support something that insights firms are discovering en mass: the modern consumer is quite distracted, and therefore has a much-shorter attention span.

It makes sense that consumers may opt for podcasts as a form of multi-media content that’s easy to-consume while engaging in the multi-screen use that’s become ubiquitous. While video demands attention, podcasts allow attention to be divided.

Auditory Content is Quality Content

While 40% of the population may react better to visuals than pure text, podcasting takes into account the estimated 30% of the population are auditory learners who retain and process information better if it’s heard. A quality podcast session takes into account the human need for storytelling and interaction just as effectively as a well-executed branded video. Finally, professional podcaster Pat Flynn recently emphasized the sticky qualities of podcasts that other forms of content may not be able to match: content marketers can inspire listeners to “lean in” with voice inflection, inject personality, and produce analysis of breaking trends perhaps more quickly than if utilizing video production.

Marketers have long speculated that in the future, the average consumer attention spans could shrink to the point where we have less than a second to capture interest. As mobile adoption continues to soar, it’s clear that smartphones and tablets aren’t replacing the television or personal computer; they’re being used simultaneously. The true power of podcasting could be connected to it’s value for a world that’s more distracted and plugged-in than ever before.

Do you think podcasting could outpace demand for video content?

Join The Conversation

  • Sasha Zinevych's picture
    Nov 18 Posted 3 years ago Sasha Zinevych

    Dear Jim,

    those are great insights, thank you so much for sharing!

  • SalesVPI's picture
    Nov 15 Posted 3 years ago SalesVPI

    Sasha, two thoughts on length.

    1. Recognize that audience have different interest levels and time available. But why shortchange someone with deep interest who wants more than the cursory overview?

    The linear nature of audio and video actually helps here. After a short, attention getting "hook" at the front end, if you explain the structure of the program, and put the overview content at the front, with deeper content about specific elements later in the program, you can support both audience types.

    I never mind if someone abandons a program after 3 minutes, if others stay for 8 or 12. Produce it and let them decide.

    2. Since length and depth are audience related, produce and offer multiple modular versions. These could address different audience personas for example. If content supports a buying process, it could address different stages or key questions.

    The hard part is always getting attention, right? Why waste it with arbitrary decisions about length and depth? Give audiences options, and if possible, track the results.


  • Sasha Zinevych's picture
    Nov 15 Posted 3 years ago Sasha Zinevych

    Dear Renaud,

    You're totally welcome! Don't forget to share it with me ;)

  • Sasha Zinevych's picture
    Nov 15 Posted 3 years ago Sasha Zinevych

    Dear Jim,

    you're totally right. But how to determine the exact length and format of what you want to present as a podcast series? Are there any special points to pay attention to? 

  • Renaud Gagné's picture
    Nov 13 Posted 3 years ago Renaud Gagné

    Absolutly fantastic post with good insights.

    I personally enjoy podcast as I can listen to them while I am doing another activity. By far, the I love marketing Podcast is my favorite. :)

    With that being said I think it is a good thing to create a video and that repurposing that content into a podcast in order to multiple our reach.

    Thank you for bringing an idea for my next blogpost. :)

  • SalesVPI's picture
    Nov 12 Posted 3 years ago SalesVPI

    Publishers long ago removed "either or" thinking from their planning and production processes.

    Since a podcast is essentially the audio track stripped off the video, we recommend providing both to audiences.

    A good way to optimize content investments is to create for multiple formats (and more) from each project.

    If a topic is worth the time, effort and money to create content, why not create for all primary formats your audiences prefer? So visual elements could be created, or extracted from the video, and edited into slides and uploaded to Slideshare, for example.

    "Point production" thinking is a key cause of the constraints content marketers are facing when they complain about the inability to create "enough" content, quickly enough, with limited budgets.


  • Sasha Zinevych's picture
    Nov 12 Posted 3 years ago Sasha Zinevych

    Thank you for the insights, Marshall! Have you started your own podcasting series yet? 

  • Marshall Crawford's picture
    Nov 11 Posted 3 years ago Marshall Crawford

    Web marketers are looking for various content distribution channels to reach their target audience and Podcasts allow them to do so inexpensively. Audio and video conveys emotion far more effectively than other type of content and Podcasts allow you to connect with your target audience more effectively.

Webinars On Demand

  • May 09, 2017
    With all of the technologies available to marketers today, have we lost that personal touch? Join VP of Content Marketing for ON24, Mark Bornste...
  • April 05, 2017
    In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, operational efficiency, quick turn-around times, testing and adapting to change are crucial to...