The Podcast Show 2023
Highlights from Europe’s biggest podcast event
Podcasting is one of the most immersive and influential mediums, with the UK now listening to an average of 91 million podcast hours per week. The podcast industry is maturing, forcing creators to adopt new content creation and marketing strategies to continue delivering engaging episodes for both new and loyal listeners alike.
Helen from the Transistor.fm team attended The Podcast Show 2023 in London to learn more about the latest topics and trends. Here are the highlights from industry experts and podcast enthusiasts on what is currently shaping the podcasting world.
Preserving storytelling in podcasting
Podcasts have always been a powerful storytelling medium, yet this is often at odds with a creator's desire to monetize their efforts through in-episode adverts. Honest and vulnerable conversations placed alongside sponsorship slots often don’t mix well. It can devalue the core message and interrupt the listening experience. This clash of content styles forces creators to seek other monetization methods like subscriptions, donations, and membership tiers.
The BBC Sounds podcast commissioning team discussed the ad-free experience of their podcasts in the UK. How it allows them to focus on experimenting with content simply to attract new audiences that wouldn’t otherwise get made if advertising reach was the sole aim.
They want to create shows that are the first podcast that someone ever listens to. They are thinking about what formats are entertaining to new audiences without having the pressure of including appropriate adverts. Some shows are gateways into podcasting for new listeners; they widen the reach for all podcasts in the long term. This type of content is essential to expanding the podcast industry as a whole.
However, according to the first UK podcast rankings from Edison Research, the BBC doesn’t yet have a show in the top 5 UK podcasts. Of the top 5 shows, two are monetized through sponsorships, two offer paid listener subscriptions, and one sells live tour tickets and merchandise.
IAB UK said that podcast ad spend grew by 32% in 2022, which shows that podcast creators are still adopting these monetization methods, despite knowing that it detracts from audience enjoyment. Here are some additional ways we recommend to monetize a podcast in 2023.
Video podcasts as a promotional tool
Another way podcasters maintain storytelling in their show is to keep it as an audio-only experience. Holly Tucker MBE, the host of the Conversations of Inspiration podcast, said that her intention to maintain an audio-only podcast had enabled more meaningful conversations. She has no plans to create a video podcast because the host and guest dynamics completely change when in front of a camera.
Several talks focused on video podcasts as an initial discovery mechanism with the long-term aim of converting those podcast watchers into loyal podcast listeners later on. Audio podcasts are at the heart of many multi-platform brands, and video is just one of many marketing tools. Video trailers are seen as the shareable gateway into podcast listening rather than the core content.
Large groups of podcast creators seemed enthusiastic to test out new video content repurposing tools and clip-generating software from the conference exhibitors to learn how they can speed up their marketing processes. We have written before about the importance of having a trailer episode, which also applies to video.
Recognition in podcasting
A key theme present at The Podcast Show 2023 was recognition, whether gained through joining a podcast network, being backed by a production company, or receiving a nomination for a podcast award. PR companies proudly displayed their awards, and nomination flyers for The British Podcast Awards and Independent Podcast Awards were being handed out.
Creators are seeking different types of recognition depending on their aims. Hobbyist podcasters simply seek a signal from their audience to encourage them to continue producing their show. Some creators want to make their efforts more sustainable by receiving financial and production support from agencies or networks. Established creators see the associated publicity from winning awards as a method of widening their audience further and receiving a boost in downloads.
Podcasting can be somewhat of a one-way medium, leaving creators disconnected from their audience. Maintaining the motivation to produce excellent content without any feedback can be hard. At Transistor, we recommend that creators conduct a Listener Survey to gain valuable insights from their listeners.
The Podcast Show 2023 was a great opportunity to be immersed in the business of podcasting and to also hear directly from some of my favorite creators. Clearly, the podcasting landscape has moved from simply starting a podcast to maintaining, sustaining, and marketing existing shows. It served as a wonderful reminder of the room within the industry for great new forms of content and the importance of connecting with an audience to build engaged fans sustainably.