PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020 placed India as the third largest consumer of podcasts (after the United States and China). Considering that only 12 percent Indians had ever listened to a podcast (as of 2020), the potential is immense. The numbers are already sizeable: India was estimated to have 95 million monthly active podcast listeners by December 2021, up 34pc from the previous year. Has advertising kept up with the growth in listener base?
Podcast ads come in different formats – standard ads of 10 to 30 seconds and sponsor visibility. Reportedly, one of the highest impact ad formats is the ‘Host read’. The message delivered by a host can be crafted to fit into the show’s narrative, making it less obtrusive and driving a more positive brand affinity as well as recall. Furthermore, as the technology evolves, it will also be possible to target users based on their location, interests, and even the weather in their area! This could lead to some interesting opportunities for brands on podcasts as a medium.
So, which are the podcast genres that are growing at an exponential pace?
“We see great potential in storytelling, comedy, self help, and business shows,” says Amit Doshi, Head IVM Podcasts – Pratilipi.
“Over the last 18 months, podcasts have evolved and are now going beyond the traditional two-person, conversational format. News, radio dramas (fiction) and storytelling are fast gaining popularity. This is great since it will allow content to be created in regional languages and drive higher penetration for the medium,” observes Aditya Kuber, CEO, Ideabrew Podcast.
“As the third largest listener of podcasts, which has skyrocketed especially in the past two to three years, the Indian listener is clear in their choice of genres when it comes to podcasts,” says podcaster Mansi Zaveri, Founder & CEO of parenting and child care platform KidsStopPress.com.
She continues, “Podcasting mediums, in the country, are seeing a surge (between 27-35pc) in their MAUs (monthly active users), signifying a burgeoning market for podcasts. Due to the pandemic, the WFH culture, and the blurring of work-life balance, self-help is a category that has been shown to fare well among podcast listeners. Mental health and wellness, is another genre, where the listener has found solidarity among the real and relatable content in the podcast world. Also, the millennial parent, who juggled between work, chores, online schooling, and children who needed to be engaged and entertained, found solace in podcasts in the parenting and kids genre, respectively.”
Shruti Palan, host of the podcast from Gujarat ‘I’m Just Curious’, believes that the podcast audience in general in India is still evolving and for any podcast genre to do well in India, they have to wrap it into a certain kind of packaging that makes it entertaining and not preachy..
“I feel more than the podcast genres, anybody who starts a podcast will succeed if they have figured out how to present it to the audience,” she adds.
Early adopters of ads for podcasts
Speaking of the early adopters of podcast ads, Doshi says, “We have been seeing a lot of traction with advertisers in technology, finance (both traditional and fintech) and consulting. We are starting to see traction now with automotive and consumer electronics.”
Says Kuber, “There are a variety of brands that have tried and seen the benefits of podcasts. BFSI, consumer brands and brands in the learning and education space have been the first movers. SBI Mutual Fund, PolicyBazaar, Asian Paints, MG Motors, and Marshalls are some of the brands that have been active and continue to stay committed.”
“Mostly international brands that have seen success across the spectrum, across different media. These brands have clearly understood the needs of the customer and have even tasted success in them,” observes Zaveri.
She adds, “It reaffirms the need to evolve as a brand to cater to your evolved audience – the listener – and go to them, in the medium they favour, and not what you prefer (as a brand). Thankfully, this trend is slowly but steadily catching up in the Indian market too.”
Has the podcast ads kept pace with the growth of the podcast base?
“Advertising and sponsor presence in podcasts is growing faster than ever. As advertisers start to experience the benefits of long-term listener engagement and the subsequent brand recall, this will grow further. The upcoming festive season is a great opportunity for more brands to try the medium and experience its power,” says Kuber.
Doshi also resonates with a similar opinion.
“Ads are growing rapidly – we had worked with over 35 brands in the previous financial year. I am hopeful that number increases even further this year. That being said, in a new medium advertiser interest always trails audience interest. The amount of time being spent by a typical podcast listener is not being factored into as many plans as we ideally would like them to be. This pattern is historic from the perspective that other new forms and mediums in the content space have shown this same pattern, where audience interest is ahead of brand interest. One of the main reasons why early adoption in this medium by a brand will allow them to get outsized rewards compared to the relative spends,” says Doshi.
Zaveri notes, “With time, it is imperative to note that podcast ads have taken a new dimension too. Contrary to the archaic template of pre-roll, mid-roll, and end-roll, ads, brands, and marketers are conscious of being a part of an integrated and organic conversation with their consumers.”
“Ads have definitely grown as more and more individuals and businesses are looking for creative and unique ways to engage and get their audiences/consumers attention. As mentioned earlier, the presentation of these ads will be done keeping in mind the trend and direction in which the technology is growing,” concludes Palan.