Podcasts aren’t anything new; in fact, they got their start as “audioblogging” in the 1980s and took hold again in the 2000s with the inception of devices such as iPods. But year over year, the number of people listening to podcasts has exploded, growing to over a predicted 57 million in 2016. What’s more, podcast listening grew by 23 percent between 2015 and 2016. But what does this mean for brands?
Podcasts drive engagement, build brand loyalty, and fuel purchasing decisions. But some marketers are slow to adopt this marketing strategy, perhaps unsure whether the payoff is worth the investment, or perhaps thinking it too old-school. Major brands, however, are seeing great value from this marketing tool. Here’s a look at how successful brands are leveraging podcasts successfully.
General Electric: Driving Engagement through Fictional Content
GE decided to launch a podcast, “The Message,” which took an unusual approach, blurring the lines between sci-fi and real life through an eight-episode installment that follows fictional character Nicky Tomalin as she attempts to decode a 70-year-old message from space.
The business arrangement behind The Message is interesting, and perhaps a new model. GE forged a strategic alliance with Panoply, which is Slate’s curated podcast network. Panoply acquires and creates content; it also works with brands and has done projects like a series of companion podcasts for HBO Documentary Films. In this case, GE had the idea. Panoply ran (and paid for) the production, including hiring the writer, the actors, and the production designers and crew. GE created spinoff websites to create a fuller universe around the show.
The podcast not only tells an interesting story, but also helps listeners better understand GE’s dedication to innovation through the storyline.