OzPod 2016: The Future of Podcasting for Small Business


OzPod 2016: The Future of Podcasting for Small Business

I just got back from the inaugural ABC OzPod Conference held in Sydney last Friday 30th September, another sign that podcasting in Australia is coming of age. The intention of the conference was to look at the impact podcasting has had, and continues to have, on the Australian market from the viewpoints of commercial radio and independent podcasters.

Let’s take a look at some of the hard data that intrigued me on the day:

  1. Since the start of 2016 the ABC has had 110 million downloads of their podcast suite
  2. ⅓ of all podcasts in Australia started life as a radio broadcast (think Conversations with Richard Fidler or Hamish and Andy)
  3. 83% of all podcasts are listened to on a mobile device. The majority of those episodes are listened to at home, followed by the car, followed by commuting
  4. Podcast listening in Australia is up 14% on 2015
  5. On average, podcast listeners will listen to 5.5 shows per week
  6. 1 in 5 podcast listeners will listen to 11 shows per week
  7. In the USA, 45% of all people surveyed still did not know what a podcast was
  8. The Age (Australian newspaper) released a podcast “Phoebe’s Fall” in September 2016 which generated 110,000 page views and over 90,000 unique page views in three weeks.
  9. According to Libsyn (a podcast hosting platform) the average podcast gets 164 downloads per episode.
  10. The iTunes podcast list is not a chart. For example, the top 100 is based on the number of new subscribers in the last 48 hours. None of their charts account for download numbers.

Ok, there is a lot to take in there. But let’s start with one of the biggest for me.

45% of Americans interviewed still didn’t know what a podcast was.

Now, they didn’t have any data on this for Australian audiences. But thinking about the people I come into contact with each day, to me this number seemed about right for Australia too. Rather than being discouraged by this, it actually got me a little bit excited.

Think about it for a moment. If the ABC has acquired 110 million downloads just this year and only 45% of people know about podcasting, that tells me the biggest growth period of podcasting is still to come.

The key take-home for me on this point… It’s all about education. If anyone asks you what a podcast is, grab their phone and show them how to download a couple of awesome shows (I recommend “Not Another Business Show”, “Serial” and “Start Up” to start with). The research shows that once people understand the whole podcast thing, they will consume new content.

The average podcast episode gets downloaded 164 times.

Cameron Riley, a panelist during the commercialisation of podcasting segment, drilled down a little further on this detail. It means business owners who have a podcast are consistently reaching and engaging an average of 164 of their ideal clients en masse.

If just 1% of those listeners convert (and I’d expect much better conversion with such an engaged audience) then your podcast costs will be giving you an excellent return on investment.

So what makes a good podcast?

There is no getting around this fact. If you want to create an engaging podcast, you have to have good content. Patricia Karavelas from ABC Radio National and The Party Room podcast (which is excellent if you enjoy Aussie politics by the way) put it like this.

“A podcast must tell you something you don’t know. It must take the audience somewhere they’ve not been before. It must be intimate, well cast and provide contrast, colour and debate”

Alicia Sometimes from the Outer Sanctum added the need for a little humour and for your content to be believable and genuine. But for me, the best summary of what makes a good podcast came from Dan Box, the Australian journalist who worked on the “Bowraville” podcast (another riveting Aussie podcast about a serial killer).

“People like stories. You need to be able to take your listener with you as you tell the story. It’s all in the narrative.”

So what does the future of podcasting look like?

It surprised me to learn that all the players, whether ABC, AusStereo or independents, talked about creating dedicated podcasting arms to their business. The ABC talked about using podcasts as a way to develop talent that would feed into their broadcasting arms (such as radio and TV). They are also niching down to provide very specific podcasts for identified audiences (like “Short and Curly”, a children’s ethics podcast).

Meanwhile, AusStereo is also branching into more niched content allowing their on-air talent to pursue passion projects (like Matty Johns doing a history show).

So what does it all mean for small business owners?

The resounding opinion was for an extremely bright future for podcasting. From a Small Business point of view, I came away believing even more firmly that podcasting provides a unique opportunity to connect and engage with your clients as never before.

It allows you to develop an intimate relationship with your clients which lets them understand you, your beliefs and your business. It is a perfect medium to engage them into your sales / marketing funnel and to build a loyal fan base.

One final note. I do believe podcasting editing and production will become more and more important as listeners become more discerning with their time. But don’t let that hold you back as there are plenty of podcast production houses to assist with the more technical aspects.

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  • Michael

    Hi Tracy,
    Thank you…some fascinating insights.
    Can you explain HOW a small business can benefit from podcasting? is it by sponsoring the content? or by having their own content? Also, how does a conversion rate of say 1% of less than 200 dedicated listeners translate into profit?

    • Tracy

      Hi Michael,

      Firstly, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, it’s greatly appreciated.
      You raised a couple of great questions! So good in fact I will dedicate an entire article to it’s discussion… Far too much to get into as a reply.

      Thanks again,

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