Digital audio and podcast popularity have been part of my keynote speeches. In these talks, I showed how podcasting is finally taking off, and why podcasts will be off the charts by 2025.
Written by Igor Beuker
I curated my talks for several industries and summarized them for you in this long read. My message to you? Podcasting will be big business. How big? Podcast emperor Joe Rogan made $30 million in 2019. What are you going to do? Go big, go niche or go home?
Remember Sony's Walkman? The MP3 Player? Apple's Comeback with the iPod?
Some of you veterans might still remember the Sony Walkman in 1979? Maybe the launch of the MP3 Player in 1998? Or perhaps Apple's comeback with the iPod in 2001? The truth 4 decades later? Young and old, all around our globe, are listening to podcasts and audio books. At home, in public transport, while running or at the gym. Okay, I'm biased in my enthusiasm.I'm a full-time public speaker doing live on stage for 20+ years. So I'm indeed happy with the growing podcast popularity.
But remember, audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. In media, music and education, we know that many people like to be entertained and educated via their ears. So podcasts can be helpful content to educate a generation of screenagers. The ones that we have to explain that they were born and not downloaded!
We are talking to Amazon, Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google Home. Next up we will be talking to every device or service in our smart homes. And in our future smart cities. We will be using our voices to command the growing technologies surrounding us. Of course, tech naysayers and critics protested right from the start. All these headsets and AirPods? They would make us stupid, antisocial and dangerous for society. To these naysayers I would like to say: How about audiobooks and top motivational speakers? Edutainment in our ears!
Digital Audio & VoiceTech Are Changing The Evolution Of User Interfaces
If you are old school like me, you have experienced an era of pre-mobile phones and Internet. Didn't we all walk around with the Nokia 6310? The phone that you could frisbee with, lose for several days to find it back with still 82% of battery. But we know happened to Nokia. Are you ready for disruption? 5G is pushing the ever-growing mobile internet speed and possibilities including live streaming. The same that is happening with VoiceTech today, tomorrow and in the future. Yes, we all made a fool out of that stupid Siri. But VoiceTech is back. And it is here to stay. In our homes, on the go, and soon everywhere around us.
VoiceTech is also reshaping the way we connect with technology. Were you also struggling with your remote to find one of the 999 TV channels last few years? Today, you just tell your TV: "football + Cristiano Ronaldo".Next voice-search will show you the most relevant options. You just shout back to your TV: "Play video 3". In WhatsApp, the number of voice apps is growing fast too. Why would we keep typing in a small display when we can shout (or whisper) our message? Marketers, search and social specialists, developers, and designers? They all have to adapt to these new ways. The keyboard, mouse and even the home button are making place for voice-driven user interfaces and connections. That makes digital marketing even more interesting than before. Sooner than you think, you might even be flying a drone with your mind. That one? Might just take one or two more decades though.
Podcasting Is Big Business. Podcast Emperor Joe Rogan Made $30 Million In 2019
The growth of smartphones, wi-fi, 4G, 5G, streaming services, and wireless headphones is making podcasts more portable than ever before. So my tip to storytellers, the media and entertainment industries? How about the "new" trend called 8D Audio? Although it's not a new technology,8D is giving listeners sound and music all around them. It's also a hit on YouTube andpopular among Podcast fans. Go big, go niche or go home. Podcast popularity is growing and it is big business. Look at Joe Rogan, the podcast phenomenon.
The Joe Rogan Experience is a free audio and video podcast. The show is hosted by American comedian, sports commentator, martial artist, and television host, Joe Rogan. The show launched on December 24, 2009, by Rogan and comedian Brian Redban, who also produced and co-hosted. Podcast show The Joe Rogan Experience raked in a staggering $30 million in revenue across 190 million downloads per month in 2019. That's what Rogan says. But if I also calculate 18 CPM (cost per thousand listeners) and sold out ad spots? Joe could just be making $64 million in annual revenue from podcast ads alone.
The Challenge Of Podcast Monetization – Audiobooks Make 2.4 Times More Money
Though for many, podcasts are under-monetized compared to other forms of media. High-quality audiobooks usually cost US$20-30. That's more expensive than a paperback or e-book. Prices for audiobook subscriptions vary from US$9–15 per month, generating an ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) of around US$100 per year. Podcasts do have multiple revenue streams: advertising and sponsorships, subscriptions, events, merchandise, content marketing, branded podcasts, and individual listener donations. But yet, the last decade proofs that podcasts are often given away for free. Or are having a challenge monetizing them. There can only be one Joe Rogan.
Audiobooks on average, make 2.4 times the annual revenues compared to a podcast listener. Sure, a podcast is much cheaper to make than an audiobook, but still. Podcasts also will need to catch up with a medium like Radio. In the UK in 2017, commercial radio generated 2.8 pence of ad spend per hour of listening, while podcasts generated just 0.5 pence. In 2020, Deloitte predicts, the global audiobook market will grow by 25% to US$3.5 billion. And audiobooks aren't the only audio format gaining in popularity. Deloitte also predicts that the global podcasting market will increase by 30% to reach US$1.1 billion in 2020, surpassing the US$1 billion mark for the first time. More interesting Intel in this Deloitte Report.
Not All Artists, Celebrities, and Public Speakers Will Monetize Their Podcast. But Most Will Embrace It
But there's more to explore than money honey! Artist managers now consider podcasts to be an important part of a well-rounded content marketing strategy. Celebrities and influencers are following the exact same strategy. Consumers have never been more connected – but it's never been harder to connect with them. Podcasts can help. Podcasts are sticky. Podcasts are long-tail. Podcast popularity is rising fast. My management was loud and clear to its speakers from day one. You are probably not going to monetize the hell out of podcasting, but you will do it for a few plausible reasons:
1. Podcasting is a way of connecting to fans that is so much more intimate than social media. It's long format content and long-tail content.
2. Podcasts can scale your messaging and target or broaden specific audiences, without having to fly and travel all the time.
3. Podcast success will also fuel future broadcasted keynotes for international speakers. Live on stage has its limits: My 150 talks also need 30-40 travel days per year.
4. Brands, media and broadcasters will also discover the future podcast paradise and host new podcast shows.
Most artists, celebrities, public speakers or influencers will not be able to monetize their podcasts. But still many of them will embrace podcasting. I also see a major opportunity for B2B brands here. No one ever said B2B was supposed to be Boring2Boring, right? I expect a significant uptake in B2B podcasts in the coming 5 years. For 2 reasons:
1. Storytelling is changing, and unless brands know how to tell theirs in a quick, insightful and purposeful way that is native to new platforms, they will be left behind. Podcasts fit in seamlessly.
2. Brands who generously listen and share, cultivate sympathy and loyalty. Especially B2B brands have some catching up to do in this field. Podcasts can help.
The Netflix of Podcasts Will Be? Apple, Spotify… Or Will An Outsider Take Over?
The Netflix for podcasts is still missing. Oh wow. Can you imagine? That your business gets named 'the Netflix of podcasts'. That would be huge! I've asked around creating this piece and waited patiently if that intel would add value to my story and key take-ways. Insiders told me: we will see a lot of dynamics and acquisitions in podcasting the next years to come. Production platform Anchor estimated 2 years ago that Apple and Spotify control more than 70% of podcast listenership. Spotify's aggressive push for podcasting has heated up in the past years, and it's working. Based on several reports, Spotify could easily reach at least 25% listener share by the end of 2020. Not enough for Spotify. Spotify plans to spend $500 million on acquisitions this year. It already acquired content studio Gimlet, tech platform Anchor, and true crime network Parcast for a combined $400 million.
It's another clear signal of big podcasting is going to be. The battle between Apple and Spotify? That will be heating up the coming years. Big brands often have big egos and a no-risk mindset. I call it "innovation by acquisition culture." Apple's ego and acquisition power? Indeed. Huge too.Do you remember Dr. Dre's Beats Electronics? Apple paid $3 Billion for Beats. Guess why? Digital Audio. Music. Audiobooks. Podcasts. A venture-backed company called Luminary is trying to change this — it raised $100 million to launch a "Netflix for podcasts" spring 2019. Consumers pay $7.99/month to access Luminary-exclusive shows alongside podcasts that are free on other apps. Because podcasts have RSS feeds, distributors like Luminary can easily grab free content and put it behind a paywall.
The platform, not the creator, benefits from this monetization. Is that a smart move long-term Luminary? I doubt it. If content is still king, content creators should be earning money too. Within days of Luminary's launch, prominent podcasters and media companies (The New York Times, Gimlet and more) requested their shows be removed from the app. Unsurprisingly, creator sentiment is more positive toward platforms like Spotify and Pandora . Also platforms like OnlyFans are offering cuts the to their content creators.
YouTube also launched a similar premium plan — for $11.99/month, users can access and download ad-free videos.Unlike Luminary, YouTube pays creators a cut of the revenue from these subscriptions based on how frequently their content is viewed. Though these companies do make money from premium subscribers who listen to podcasts, creators can choose whether or not to submit their shows. Who do you support in the podcasting value chain? I'm on the side of the creators. Content is still king!
The World's Top Podcast Publishers. Will Big Tech Show An Appetite For Podcasts?
Podcast publishers with the most global unique streams and downloads in January 2020 were NPR and iHeartRadio. New York Times and TED are also ranked in the top 10. Well done! We're also seeing outsiders coming for the big podcasting bucks. Google, Pandora. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. I'm data-driven when it comes to my predictions. Freak like me. Because my predictions come with great responsibility. My stories have put podcasts on the radar of many tech and media titans. And so far, led to almost $500 million in venture capital and acquisitions.
I predict that top content creators will speed up their investment and footprint in the space. This will show us, aggressive new entrants, from some of the largest content creators.
Traditional Radio and Broadcasting networks will follow the money and acquire independent podcast players. But what the big tech players do? Platforms with massive reach and powerful ad-targeting platforms. What do you think if firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google or Tencent begin seriously entering the audio space? It will be the catalyst for the true hockey stick growth of new podcast listeners. Did you know that 50% of the searches will be voice search by the end of 2020? Can you imagine why Google needs to get deeper in the game? We all remember the Google Duplex video.
Whereas radio advertising has been around for decades, voice search optimization (or VSEO) is a new and exciting dynamic that marketers must consider. As voice-enabled speakers and other IoT devices become more popular, the young, affluent, tech-savvy demographics are primed and ready for a shift in how they search for things online. Earlier this year, Google announced that they will "start including podcasts in Google Search results so you can listen to podcasts directly from the search results page. Or save an episode for later."
Podcasts now already reach more American consumers than satellite radio and streaming services. It's now the #2 audio product behind broadcast radio. China is even moving faster with podcasting. Where the USA podcasting industry was $479 million in 2018, China's clocked in at over $7 billion (23x). The huge difference? Chinese podcasters have moved to the subscription model. Their most loyal listeners pay for member-only content and get content without intrusive ads. Corporates, entrepreneurs, experts, journalists and business owners can ride the trend called podcasting.
From Corporate Blogs To Corporate Podcasts? Entrepreneurs Will Ride The Podcast Trend!
If podcasts are going mainstream coming 5 years, major advertising revenue will also grow. Ad revenues will be shared with the top content creators, who will accelerate their investment and footprint in the space. Corporate blogs will soon turn into corporate podcasts. Brands will hire experts and professional speakers to stand out from the crowd. New funky podcasting formats will surprise us. It also opens the gates for professional storytellers, speakers, and artists of all kinds. Can you imagine, immersive storytelling, with the relaxing voice of storyteller and painting legend Bob Ross?
Also, imagine the limitless opportunities podcasting is offering to entrepreneurs, experts, venture capitalists. They can now compete big the big brands out there. Be funky and agile. Go get them! Podcasting has been a low priority on my agenda for quite a few years. For several reasons. I prefer to be live on stage! That's my passion and paycheck. I do around 200 talks each year. I traveled the world, met with captains of industry, world leaders, social innovators, and math men.
To cut back my travel and to 'load balance' my social life, we cut back my number of gigs. We capped them at around 100 international talks per year. That saved me saved 22 traveling days each year. Excluding days at events.This could be a precious time to scale my message. I wrote for a few magazines and sometimes (not enough) my blog.I started to host radio and tv shows on trends, business, tech, and lifestyle.
Focused on camera and video. I love visual storytelling and full-motion content. I like to look at people when they speak. Nonverbal communication is important to me. Eyes and body language can tell you a lot. But I love to listen to podcasts and occasionally I am the guest of the show. When I like a show, I say yes!
Just remember, audio and voice are by far the most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. Podcasting is finally taking off as an industry and has earned its presence in the media landscape. But it's not always size that matters. Big is only good when big is smart. I see other great things coming from podcasting.
Podcasting will continue to drive new high-quality content to growing audiences. Interesting times for creativity, ideation, and social innovation. Offering many new opportunities for TV and film intellectual property.
The best storytellers and speakers in the world working with total creative freedom at times. Interact with your audience, test ideas fast in front of audiences at scale, podcasting will fuel good new ideas. I really hope that the advertising industry will consult the IAB's around the world for advice. They are veterans and they have so much experience. They can help shape the future of digital audio advertising.
I hope we have learned from our mistakes in digital marketing and will create new advertising formats and content creation tools that allow brands to engage with their audience appropriately. Not hijacking spammy ads. Podcast networks will also get into the subscription game. But rather than distributing premium content exclusively through Spotify's and Luminary's walled gardens, podcast networks will offer their own network-branded subscription bundles via the open podcast ecosystem.
Are you ready to boost your podcasting success? Here are 117 podcast marketing tips from podcasters just like you.
Igor Beuker is a professional public speaker and publicist known for his foresight on trends and technologies that impact business, economy, and society. With his radical vision and reliable voice, he inspires audiences, puts butts in seats and gets rave reviews.At conferences and on social media, described by audiences as "Burning Man meets TED" and frequently a trending topic as "Math Man in a world Mad Men." People seem to love his authentic, bold, charismatic and witty personality. After 2,000+ talks for leading brands and events, Igor jumped from the podium to the television screen. He still speaks 150 times per year. Never the same talk twice. Behind the scenes, a serial entrepreneur with 5 exits and 24 angel investments, an award-winning marketing strategist for brands like Amazon, L'Oréal, Nike and Unilever, and a new breed trendwatcher for Fortune 500s, WEF, and the EU.