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  • Writer's pictureRanieri & Co.

Podcast Hosts - the Next Generation of Influencers?

Influencer marketing has been around for over 15 years, predominantly on social media platforms such as Instagram and most recently, TikTok. Are there opportunities to work with influencers for the streaming generation and what advantage does this approach hold over social media influencers? Why are social media stars like Abbie Chatfield and The Uninspired Unemployed creating podcasts? Read on to find out how podcast hosts can connect with a hyper-engaged audience and why we’re backing podcast hosts as the next iteration of influencers.

The rise of the social influencer

Remember when social media was where you went to view 30 unedited photos of your mate’s birthday party taken (poorly) on a digital camera? Then came the filters and ads and the influencers, carving out a whole new $1.6 billion dollar industry, with 93% of marketers having used influencer marketing at some point (TRIBE). This is for a good reason - over 90% of consumers engage with influencers weekly on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat. (Statistica.)

Usage of social media platforms like Facebook is high, with over 64% of Australians using the platform (16 million active users per month) (We Are Social). Comparatively, podcast usage is said to be around 40% of the Australian population 12+ (The Infinite Dial 2022). However, podcasts have clear advantages over social media usage in the areas of attention and trust. Listening to a podcast is a screenless lean-in activity, whereas social media is lean-back. This makes for an entirely different experience for the brain. A study by Mindshare’s NeuroLab found that trust for advertised brands went down after the exposure to a video ad on social media and up when brands were featured on podcasts. Additionally, podcast listeners make it through around 90% of a given episode, meaning immersion equates to over 30 minutes on average, having a very different effect on memory structures than a 30 second video on Instagram. (Mindshare)

Furthermore, it is worth noting that social media usage is disjointed. The average Facebook user accesses the app 13 times a day. The average session is around 4 minutes. Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat hold their audience’s attention for even shorter sprints. Users often hop between tasks and social scrolling - most commonly with messaging apps such as WhatsApp. This means that a short, sharp attention grabbing ad is essential. When your campaign message is easy to communicate and bold (for example, a sale), social media can be a great tool to inspire action. For example, 40% of Twitter users’ purchases are influenced by Tweets (Ad Espresso). Influencers have a small window to grab the user's attention and hold it. This is in contrast to a podcast, where there are often only around 3 ads in a 30 minute session.

GWI reported that whilst social media usage is high, it can have a negative impact on mental health, with 19% of Gen Z consumers claiming that social media causes them anxiety. “Given the personal, emotional experience of podcast listening that we saw in our data, it wouldn’t be surprising if podcast hosts became the next major influencers,” said Arafel Buzan, co-lead of the study.

The audio streaming generation

Podcasts however, are immersive and screen-less, meaning that the user tunes in for most or all of the episode, which are often around 40 minutes. The majority of people (88%) actively reduce distractions before they start listening to a podcast (Ad News). This focused engagement can mean enhanced memory encoding of ads. A Spotify study found that 81% of listeners have taken action as a result of listening to audio ads during a podcast.

How does this affect our relationship with influencers? “There is a very intimate connection between the podcaster and the listener,” Cole Cuchna, host of the popular podcast Dissect said. “If it’s a conversational podcast, it’s intimate because you feel like you’re in the room. If it’s a scripted show like mine, it still feels intimate because I write as if I’m talking to someone individually.”

The power of the host

The host of a podcast is often its main major selling point. Some are hosted by established celebrities (like Russell Brand’s Under The Skin) and some turn the relatively unknown hosts into celebrities/influencers, as the podcast becomes popular. The strong relationship that forms between listener and host means that hosts are in a unique position to provide trusted product endorsements/service recommendations. Host-read podcast ads achieve 72% brand recall, compared with 62% for non-host-read ads. Additionally, host-read ads on podcasts produce an average of 50% increase in purchase and recommendation intent among listeners when compared against non-host-read ads. (Neilson)

Furthermore, social media influencers are beginning to capitalise on the extra engagement that podcasts offer and are extending their offering to the audio world by launching podcasts. Examples of this locally include The Uninspired Unemployed. The duo rose to fame on Instagram and TikTok, connecting with their fans through humour in skits that are often 30 seconds - 5 mins long. As appetite was high for their content, podcasts allow fans to go deeper, spending more time with them and consuming their voices in an uncluttered environment. Podcasts immerse us in the things and people that we’re curious about. So, we pay attention—and that makes a great atmosphere for brands. 81% of listeners took action after hearing host-read ads during a podcast — anything from looking up a product online, to connecting with a brand on social media, to talking about a product with someone. (Spotify)

Given our current media consumption habits, it makes sense that people are increasingly turning to podcasts for education and entertainment throughout their day. Brands that advertise on podcasts have an opportunity to reach customers who are increasingly looking to the medium to learn and connect with their community. The host of the show is integral to this, which is why stars are being used for podcasts (Barack Obama, Prince Harry), stars are being created through podcasts and influencers are extending their remit to podcasting.

As podcasting continues to grow and reach higher penetration in Australia, there are more and more highly effective ways for brands to advertise. Get in touch to find out how you can harness the most immersive platform.


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