Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Podcasts become a £2bn opportunity for brands

By Peter Mitchell, co-founder and CEO at 4DC

Our second, quarterly report on the UK’s podcast industry demonstrates how this audience is active, loyal, connected, growing in number — and possess valuable spending power.  Podcasts are now an established information and entertainment service. As a platform for brands, this is a revenue generating opportunity that must be embraced.

The data shows podcasts should be viewed as a central part of the marketing mix. A staggering 7.1 million people in the UK are listening to podcasts weekly. Podcasts have moved from an emerging, niche fascination to a mainstay in the UK’s entertainment, education and social landscapes.

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In 2018, the UK market for delivery subscriptions broke through the £2bn barrier and looks to be welcoming podcasts into the fray as a healthy new revenue system. From the king of content, Netflix, to happy eating plan, Hello Fresh, to regular beauty deliveries from BirchBox — there is an incredible opportunity for podcasts to follow a similar model.

In a podcast industry first, our data reveals that over half (59%) of listeners would be happy to pay for premium content at an average of £4 ( £4.03) per month, or around £50 a year. Combining the growth of podcasts with listeners’ willingness to pay a monthly premium for good content, subscriptions are set to be the next phase for the industry’s exponential growth.

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Advertising within podcasts has grown by 60% since 2018, the report reveals that consumers are happy to purchase from brands featured in their favourite podcasts. According to the research, 80% of listeners are either positive or neutral to receiving adverts, with a sizeable 59% willing to buy from a brand advertised in a podcast. As these audiences grow, good messaging can fast increase a brand’s commercial opportunity, with 22% of listeners purchasing at least one product discussed.

The importance of aligning brand messages with consumer interest is backed up by the report’s findings, as more than half of listeners (56%) go on to research the brands mentioned immediately after the podcast has finished.

Recall of brand mentions is staggering with a large — and growing — audience willing to buy straight away, brands should seize the commercial opportunities. For those listeners who don’t want to be targeted, we have been told they would be willing to spend for premium programming, either going ad”free or signing up to a subscription.

Although the UK is embryonic in comparison to the sizeable podcast industry seen in the US, we’re certainly becoming more attuned to hearing recognisable voices in the UK. Half of listeners say it’s important they have heard of the presenter when picking a new podcast.

As we see more and more celebrities in the UK hosting their own shows, from Fearne Cotton to Peter Crouch, the growing demand is clear. In fact, the previous 4DC report from June this year indicated that 17% of listeners preferred a celebrity presenter, climbing to 25% in only six months.  

What this data is telling marketers is that podcasts are a trusted environment. It will be interesting to see how the media landscape develops as podcasts take an even more pivotal role in how we consume media and engage with brands. Coupled with more sophisticated data and measurement, we predict this space to be prosperous for brands in 2020.