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Podcasts of all types have been on the up and up and according to the Washington Post, podcast downloads passed 1 billion mark last year and monthly podcast listeners number 75 million per month. Podcasts are now viewed as the future, or at least an important part of it and are being used to reach younger and more diverse audiences. “People under the age of 30 don’t own radios,” noted WNYC’s CEO and president Laura Walker.

But don’t dismiss that radio just yet. Right now, around 20% of Americans listen to podcasts once a month. Traditional radio reaches 240 million people each week – so the dial should still be a part of your strategy. In fact, many of the podcasts from traditional players also have corresponding radio programs

So what are the benefits of podcasts?

1. Podcast Subscribers are Engaged

The vast majority of your plays/downloads will come from subscribed applications such as iTunes, which automatically download your latest episode upon each release. The benefit is that you don’t have to keep trying to get in front of your target audience the way you do on social media, as listeners will automatically receive your latest content on their favorite device.

And in terms of active engagement, an Edison Research study on the audio habits of Americans found that podcast listeners are actually “super listeners”, consuming up to an hour and 45 minutes more audio per day than the average American – and they spend more than 25% of that total time listening to podcasts.

2. You can Podcast about Anything!

People podcast about knitting, Yoda, and the fight against manufactured music. People do podcast from studios, but also from their home offices, garages, and in the streets. Podcasting software is cheap, and literally anyone can do it. And you don’t need a super tight script, either – people often enjoy conversational, less rigid podcasts.

3. Podcast Ads are Effective and Engaging

Listeners don’t seem to mind commercial breaks in podcasts, and are influenced by the messaging they’re hearing. A recent survey of 300,000 podcast listeners found that 63% of people bought something a host had promoted on their show. When asked if advertising within podcasts had affected their behavior, 71% said they’d visited a sponsor’s website, while 62% said they’d considered that new product or service.

Podcast hosts tend to have more creative license than radio show hosts when it comes to commercials. Where radio stations are constrained by federal laws guiding what they can say in ads, podcast hosts have no such restrictions. The paid promotional messages often sound more like a friend’s recommendation than a sponsorship. “That passive endorsement is really powerful,” says Adam Sachs, CEO of Midroll Media.

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4. Podcasting is a Great Addition to your Marketing Strategy

Podcasting mixes well with other digital marketing efforts. You can discuss recent posts on your blog, promote your social channels and use them as a conversation tool with listeners, build your email list through podcasting and more.

Content marketing isn’t just about blogging, it’s about creating different types of content for your potential customers to engage with – wherever they may be. Podcasts are one of the best formats for mobile audiences because they can be easily consumed while on the go.

5. Podcasting is Huge, and it’s Growing

With more people listening than ever, and real money to be made, of course radio veterans are flocking to podcasts. “There have been a number of successful podcasts that have generated fans and made money – everyone wants to see if they can take a crack,” Steve Nelson, the program director for Infinite Guest, American Public Media’s brand new podcast network, said.

The consolidation of shows into networks is an attempt to further leverage this trend. Creating a network has financial benefits, enabling bulk ad sales packages. Earwolf, which works with 100 advertisers, represents 130 podcasts, for example. “The fact that we have this exclusive ecosystem gives us a lot of power,” said Sachs. Networks can also provide institutional and financial support to hosts. Sachs credits his network’s success with the ability to “treat talent like talent” and for Earwolf to handle production, promotion, discovery, and anything outside of the creative process.

So if want to try something out of the box, think podcasting. At least you can have some creative liberties with your content!

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