Branded Podcast Predictions for 2023

Why we’re so excited about 2023

By: Jen Moss (CCO), Chris O’Keeffe (Executive Producer) and Liz Hames (Director of Podcast Marketing)

 

After launching 15 original branded podcast series this year, having hundreds of conversations with our clients and industry partners, and working with our talented team, we’re putting on our fortune teller hats to make some predictions for the new year.  

So – as podcast industry insiders – what do we think we’ll see in 2023? 

More creative formats: 

With such a rising sea of podcasts (we’re up over 5 million now) it follows that brands and creators are going to have to start pushing harder into more creative structure and marketing ideas to get noticed. More “theatre of the mind,” less “talking heads.”  More “choose your own adventure,” less “top ten tips.” More tailored, organic ad campaigns – less social media marketing.

More “reality” podcasts: 

Where the host goes on an active journey. We like shows like Shameless Acquisition Target (where the host shamelessly hawks her show hoping it will earn enough money to buy her a particular house) because we’re captivated by a host who sets herself a clear (and hilarious) goal – and brings listeners along for the ride. On the way, she uncovers what really matters in storytelling (side note: JAR Audio was a proud sponsor of the podcast).

Bet now, win big:

With a bit of slowdown around the new year, brands that kick off production in Q1 enjoy immense advantages over those who play it safe while the economy thaws. Long development and production tails mean you can’t just “turn it on”.

Internal Champions will find less resistance:

As awareness of the power of podcasting continues to grow, the days of the single, intrepid, embedded podcast advocate within an organization are (hopefully) numbered. Instead, we will see already converted internal teams of believers coming to table with ideas and a sense of ownership. 

Further separation between telling and selling:

More savvy brands will understand the importance of storytelling.

Lines will continue to blur: 

RSS, Spotify, Youtube, web embeds, email attachments, slack messages — who cares?! It’s all podcasting. 

Hosting wars:

Our experience shows that when it comes to a hosting service, brands value features and time-saving over price. Hosting platforms that can most clearly communicate their service and support will do better than those who race to the bottom with pricing. 

More language diversity:  

Podcast audiences are now, finally, on par with the US population as a whole when it comes to diversity. One Spanish-speaking podcast producer told me “Spanish podcasts are now where English podcasts were in 2016.” Given the popularity of other serialized forms, such as the Telenovela, in Spanish-speaking cultures – we think there’s plenty of room for growth here.

More narrowcasting, microcasting and scalpelcasting:

“When it comes to growing a business, most fall for ‘get yourself out there’ tactics.

But the truth is, for professionals like you, ‘getting yourself in there’ with the right people is what will really move you forward.”

Toby Goodman (Narrow Podcasting)

On one side you’ve got brands chasing glamor metrics. Competition can be a great motivator, and we don’t disagree. But on the other side we’ll see increased focus and bravery on approaching the right audience. Even if it’s 5 people. You’ll also see podcasts used more in Account Based Marketing (ABM). JAR Audio produced podcast, Breaking Bottlenecks, only has an audience of 25 companies that operate within the Port of Vancouver. We’re coining the term “scalpelcasting” right now. 

The Power of Patronage:

Look at the brand lift of the Medicis. They funded a couple of statues 700 years ago and are still the only 15th-century Florentine bankers we know by name. 

Yes, we’re being glib. But we’re also predicting more of this in the branded audio space (a la GE’s The Message and LifeAfter. More brands will see the enduring value in commissioning great art.

More content for youth: 

Recent stats show young audiences are among the fastest-growing sector of podcast listeners. And yet, this is a fairly wide-open field. Any brands or creators who want to remain relevant will be looking to reach out to this audience with content designed especially for them. We (and our kids) love Story Pirates, which just won two Gold Signal Awards! And we’re excited about the launch of Levar Burton’s podcast Sound Detectives – an educational series that will teach kids to listen closely to help identify sounds from cultures and places all over the world.

Production companies enter the podcasting landscape:

We’ll see more production companies producing original podcasts. It’s a (relatively) inexpensive way to test the market and gauge interest in and build buzz around an idea. If it takes off, they own the IP and can spin it into other content, like a netflix series or feature film.

Slower Advertising will benefit brands:

Branded podcasts not looking to monetize won’t be affected by the advertising slowdown…but they will benefit from less competition as general ad buys soften and prices drop.

A deluge of tools for telling the ROI story:

Chartable, Podsights, Podchaser (and the list goes on). The number of tools available to measure ROI will continue to increase. But which will cater the most to brands? There still isn’t a clear cut winner.

We’ll also see more hosting platforms putting an emphasis on providing powerful analytics and tracking tools, like CoHost from Fatima Zaidi and Quill.

Compliance loosens up:

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but internal compliance will begin to see the difference between company reps conversing on a podcast vs. publishing a white paper. Less regulated podcast content leads to more exciting and authentic conversation and conjecture. Brand safety is still ensured through robust podcast editing processes. Things loosen up as more brands learn the meaning of: ”it’s not LIVE, people!” (Our lawyers have just reminded us that they would still like you to be a part of our post-production approvals). 

More angst about video: 

It’s like the old philosophical question – “if a tree falls in the forest….” If a podcast takes the form of a video on Youtube… is it still a podcast? The audio-first nature of podcasting is what makes it portable and therefore widely appealing across many platforms. That said – many younger audiences do listen to podcasts on Youtube. Keyword: listen. So I think we will see more experimentation with just how far podcasts can and should push into video-dominated spaces like Youtube.

Cross-promopalooza:

Cross promotion is no longer just a marketing question. Connecting those dots is starting to happen in the strategy and production phases. 

Diminishing tolerance for bad audio:

Decent audio is simply table stakes at this point. “Do I want to listen to this?” should be answered by the content, not the quality. This is not limited to branded, but in 2023 you’ll notice that busy brands will prioritize production and make fewer sonic concessions when it comes to their shows. 

More reviews and curation: Podcasts have matured to the point that they warrant reviews in other media – online, in newspapers, and on the radio. We love databases like Podchaser and sites like Podcast Review. But there’s plenty more room in the tub, people. More critics need to wade in there and make us all better! 

Bring on 2023!

All in all, we’re excited to see that podcast audiences are getting younger, more diverse, and more discerning. It means all kinds of new content will be coming online to meet the needs of those audiences. We’re excited to see the number of places curating and critiquing podcasts starting to expand – because it means that podcasting is finally being treated like the artform it truly is. We’re also encouraged that more and more brands seem to have the internal will and basic vocabulary to approach making a podcast that serves an audience as well as serving the brand. Once again, we’re seeing the power of great storytelling to rise above the noise and reach people where they live, work, and play.