Podcast publishers eye international markets for growth

The podcast industry continues to attract a lot of money and attention. For some podcast publishers, local audiences are limited, leading them to look overseas for audience and revenue growth.

News podcast shows particularly are more suited to global audiences for their subject matter. This week the Financial Times released a six-part podcast series “How to Build a Healthy City,” featuring senior editor Darren Dodd talking with FT correspondents around the world about initiatives designed to make cities healthier. The first episode covers how urban design is changing in Singapore to create more of a community for its older population. The second covers how people in Copenhagen tackle loneliness. Last June The New York Times’ launched a week-long Brexit special as part of its podcast franchise “The Daily,” its first push into more global issues from the podcast. A year ago The Economist launched its daily news podcast pitching its Economist “worldview” as a differentiator in a more crowded daily news podcast market.

According to Joe Copeman, global svp sales at podcast platform Acast, all Acast’s publishing clients are eager to globally grow listeners.

“Everyone is asking how to increase reach in other markets and grow revenue from other countries, otherwise there’s a lot of waste out there,” he said. “It’s important for shows to appeal in different markets.”

In the U.K., 7.1 million people listen to podcasts each week, around 12.5% according to U.K. media regulator Ofcom, an increase of 24% over the past year. The U.K. ranks 20 in the countries that listened to a podcast last month, according to the Reuters Digital News Report. There’s room for growth but, despite the upsides of the format, this is slowed by common teething problems in digital media. Podcasting has been held back by problems like agreeing on standardized formats, common measurement, show discoverability and platform gatekeepers holding on to the data.

The U.S. makes up the largest chunk of listeners for the U.K. produced podcasts in Acast’s 10,000-strong network, he said. In the U.K. the BBC is the most prolific for producing podcasts and is very focussed on global reach, especially for the Indian and Australian markets. Partly this is because the BBC can’t monetize its content in the U.K.

Looking overseas for growth isn’t so surprising, and it’s a tactic that subscription publishers deploy. The global podcast market is buoyant: Industry leaders believe podcast advertising revenue will reach $ 1 billion this year, said Copeman, mostly that’s driven by the U.S. which is due to reach $1 billion in podcast revenue in 2021 according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Estimating global podcast ad revenue is murky when not all countries have started measuring specific podcast ad spend yet.

Podcast revenue comes from ads, sponsorship like host-read spots which ties the brand to the content and branded content which is even more integrated. The growing demand for ads that can be inserted and targeted at scale is suited to global growth. Podcasting has also attracted larger-scale brands outside of its early direct-to-consumer advertisers where campaigns were typically performance-based but rarely shipped overseas.

Copeman said a lot of demand is growing for ads used in more creative instances but still benefiting from audience targeting and scale.

Unlike radio, “you don’t have to compete for someone’s attention, you already have it. The ad doesn’t need to be crass, it can be more calm, personalized,” he added. “People have lazily been using radio creative and shoving it into podcasts.”


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