Podcasting has now evolved from a weird, peer-to-peer platform, reflective of the early internet, to be the digital audio’s future. These days we are seeing more and more people producing podcasts and on the other hand people are also more familiar with podcasts. In today’s article of Niorise, we want to take a look at how these podcasting is on its way to become a data business. Stay tuned!

Podcasting is changing from the free-wheeling origins of itself

The podcast market is basically a decentralized market, owing to its origins in the RSS feed, a form of file website used to instantly send updates to its users. “There is no single network that controls things,” states Mike Kadin, CEO of Red Circle, a podcast advertising platform. “There are great benefits of this. There’s no algorithms that determines what’s famous.”

This has influenced the type of business that it is. Due to the RSS feed, listening to podcasts is basically an offline experience, which ensures that podcasters get very little knowledge about their audiences. That could be about to change. Companies like Spotify and Apple have opted to send podcasters more info, such as how long the listeners have remained with the episodes. Other businesses are putting together download data from third-party information to get a better understanding of who’s listening as well as how. As tech companies pour big money into podcasting, those in the business bet another podcast peculiarity, the host-read advertisement, would save them from being crushed. This monologue, wherein the host shifts gears to the product suggestion, is by far the most popular form of ad.

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In the aftermath of the pandemic, the industry is undergoing exponential growth.

And with lesser people commuting to work—and even more time to listening—Covid-19 cannot stop podcasting from growing. Total podcast downloads in the US grew in 2020 as per data from Chartable Podcast Measurement Firm.

The pandemic appears to have influenced what people are currently listening to. Podtrac, another podcast data institution, records podcast downloads by category. Total downloads by US listeners rose by 42 percent from October 2019 to October 2020 as per Podtrac statistics, which is a subset of those calculated by Chartable. Though there was a massive difference in both genres. The popularity of news shows has increased. Shows like “The Daily” of the New York Times and “Today, Explained” from Vox have seen massive increases in downloads from people who want to know the virus and its consequences. The worst hit genre was “true crime.” The category rose by 25 per cent from October 2019 until February 2020, and has seen little development since March, at the time of the lockdowns.

Spotify is driving the industry’s largest acquisition rush ever seen.

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Over the last two years, Spotify has invested more than $600 million on the purchase of three podcast platforms, like Bill Simmons’s The Ringer, and a podcasting app. The reason behind this is that the main business of Spotify, music, is a crappy cash cow. For podcasts, Spotify does not have to fork over a significant portion of its sales to record companies.

But Spotify also strays from the free podcasting world by selling premium content. It’s selling ads against that and unlike those in the podcasting business, it wouldn’t have to do with inaccurate listener data. Spotify users provided their data to the company once they did sign up and the app tracks their listening data. In that way, Spotify is much like Facebook, a closed system that can monitor user experience, says Bryan Barletta, who publishes Sounds Profitable, a podcast ad tech newsletter. To be certain, this content is a tiny bit of podcasting. Yet Spotify has been developing it vigorously.

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And Hollywood studios use podcasts to determine which film to produce.

Hollywood has been creating podcasts with plot ideas since about early 2000s. Yet the partnership between the film and podcast sectors has now progressed to the next level. Film and TV production firms frequently utilize podcasts as their personal content test tubes, checking audio ideas to determine whether to leap to screens.

Relative to tv shows And movies, podcasts are cheap to make, and therefore a low-risk type of media used to test film ideas. They are most often dramatic, incorporating voice actors, sound effects, songs, and other plot elements adapted from television and movies.

Podcasting experts hope the industry can stop become data-obsessed and regulated by tech giants.

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The next step of the podcasting sector will be formed by a tug-of-war among platforms, developers and advertisers. Any podcaster actually paying attention is also aware of what is happening to content creators who relied so heavily on third parties, such as Facebook, for traffic. Their followers were accustomed to seeing them on social media rather than on their blogs. And the publishers themselves are subject to the dictates of tech giants’ tactics and algorithms, bathing in page views one day just to find themselves shunned by ratings and social networks feeds the next. “As long as you have a clear relationship with your user, you fail,” Zohrob says. “That’s what people remember. It’s just so new.”

Many podcasters are also rising up against Spotify. Joe Budden, a former rapper and cultural analyst, took his exclusive podcast from Spotify in August, claiming he didn’t get enough support from the company. It’s an indication that the free podcasting community is still strong. At least for now the Spotifys of the market have to adjust to it not the other way round.

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