As traditional media channels see plans thoroughly upended by the novel coronavirus, podcasts are having a moment in the limelight, and the implications for mobile marketers are significant. That's not to say the fledgling audio medium has been free from pandemic-related disruptions — quite the opposite, in fact, as important listening occasions like commutes are on hold and listener engagement subsequently on the decline.
But it's also hard to ignore the amount of podcast dealmaking that's occurred in the past several months as media players both new and old look to stake out bigger claims in a space that the Interactive Advertising Bureau forecasts will grow U.S. revenue 15% this year to $1 billion. Though those figures are considerably lower than the trade group's pre-pandemic projections, the business end of podcasting has arguably never been busier.
Acquisitions and licensing agreements have poured in this year, with some exclusivity deals carrying price tags reportedly north of $100 million. A high volume of podcast investments signals many companies, from Sirius XM to Spotify, are looking to fortify their audio strengths during a down period in the hopes that those assets will pay out once some normalcy returns.
Smart brands are following the activity and betting more on podcasts both in terms of advertising and content marketing. On the latter front, marketers from Kraft Heinz to Ford have recently created original branded podcasts to grab the attention of consumers who are overwhelmed with choice when it comes to programming.
"Podcasts have solidified their place in the marketing mix, with more marketers planning ahead to secure both inventory and pricing earlier in the season," Zoe Soon, vice president of the IAB's Consumer Experience Center of Excellence, wrote in comments attached to the group's research. "Brands increasingly see the value of 'owning' a podcast series — podcast hosts are becoming trusted influencers with loyal communities. That translates to more consumer engagement and, ultimately, stronger ROI."
Below, Mobile Marketer breaks down the most notable podcast moves of 2020 so far and what they say about where the streaming audio format is heading. From TikTok star tie-ups to Joe Rogan's new home on Spotify, these stories encapsulate a fast-moving sector whose value to marketers is only likely to increase as more people tune in: