In the first part of the article on brands and podcasts, we explained the global boom of podcasting seven years ago, and the major players. We also discussed how major brands are investing in shout-outs, hypes, and podcast sponsorships. To conclude the article, we explain why brands are now creating their own podcasts, and why Nigeria is still a tad behind in this innovative brand storytelling.
It is true – traditional advertising is rapidly failing as customers’ buying journey continue to improve dramatically. As the age of consumption gets younger than ever, people get more visual and attention span gets shorter, brands need new ways to engage their customers, and also ensure that the customer responds accordingly. According to a Content Marketing Institute study, only 42% of B2B marketers say they’re effective at content marketing, meaning there is still a big gap between what content marketers want and what they achieve.
As a podcast fan, you would have definitely heard Zip Recruiter ads on many popular US podcasts, especially Business Wars, The Daily Show, Pod Save America or The Ben Shapiro Show. The brand maintains a personable approach by allowing most of its ad copy to be read by the host. In August 2021 alone, the brand spent $2.7 million on its advertising across more than 600 podcasts. That same month, the biggest spender was BetterHelp with $6.4 million while NBCUniversal followed with $2.9 million.
One of the common misperceptions about podcast advertising is that it is difficult for brands to achieve meaningful scale because the inventory is limited. But over the past decade, there has been a rapid growth of the podcast listener base and overall increase in the number of shows, has made that a thing of the past. According to a new report by Super Listeners, podcast ads are the most recalled type of ad – with 86% of respondents saying they remember seeing or hearing an ad. Social Media has 80% and websites 79%.
The rise of enterprise podcasting
Branded podcasts are audio content created by companies to fulfill a series of functions, both communicative and commercial. Gaia Passamonti, in Podcasting Marketing says they are “aimed at offering an authoritative insight or a new perspective on a topic relevant to them, which is within the narrative identity territories of the brand or company itself to the acquired audience or to those to be reached”. Global head of culture and insights at creative agency We Are Social, Lore Oxford, suggests that this lean towards long-form comes from consumers expecting more from brands than just a snappy spot or Instagram post.
As a way of engaging with potential and existing customers, these podcasts provide a flexible platform that allows brands to play around with formats, length and tone of voice. Enterprise podcasting is a rising concept in Nigeria, and brands are learning to exploit the potential of this new format, which allows companies to establish a privileged relationship with listeners-customers by inserting itself within the customer journey. In an age of social media mistrust and misuse, such long-form content is increasingly seen as a virtue, enjoying a weight and value that keeps its head high above the toxic swamplands of click-baiting headlines and malicious tweets.
The Nigerian consumer and corporate podcasting
It goes without saying that instead of consuming ads, digitally-savvy consumers in this day and age strive to make more informed buying decisions based on research and educational content – but the content has to be qualitative, innovative, and valuable. Global brands are responding by sponsoring podcasts or taking out spot ads in pre-, mid-, or post-roll slots. Others have gone one step further and created their own original series. Such in-depth narratives may encourage deeper engagement and help build up a community, and it is uncertain how it translates into brand loyalty. But for Nigeria, it gets worse.
There are over two million podcast titles available to Nigerians, some of which are owned by financial institutions, media organisations, churches, and other religious bodies. Some of the popular company-owned podcasts in Nigeria include Fidelity Bank’s LifeDesign for Business Podcasts, which features Fidelity Bank top executives, employees, clients, and community partners; PWC’s Experience centre podcast series – Workforce Inside, Tax podcasts, Tech While You Trek, Next In Health, and a few others; and Accelerate Podcast with Nneka Nwobi.
Others are Business X with Union Bank; Arese Ugwu’s The Smart Money Tribe; Pulse Nigeria’s Terms and Conditions; Budgit’s The Budgit Podcast; McKinsey & Company’s The McKinsey Podcast; Hard Facts with Sandra Ezekwesili; Voice of Change with Jumoke Adenowo, and more.
There are currently more than 700,000 different podcasts in the audiospace, and that can make it complex to find the ones that appeal to you. In September, there were over 87 million downloads, with 160, 095 new episodes and 103, 879 active podcasts. The five countries with the biggest listeners share globally include the United States (46.5%); United Kingdom (6.7%); Canada (5.1%); Australia (4.5%) and Mexico (4.4%). Nigeria has just 0.2% – the same as Russia, Costa Rica, Venezuela and Iran.
Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Ibadan? Anywhere else?
Music streaming giant, Spotify, recently announced that its top ten Nigerian cities for music streaming from July – September 2021, with Lagos topping the list, followed by Suleja, Niger; FCT Abuja; Port Harcourt, Rivers; Benin City, Edo; Enugu; Onitsha, Anambra; Onitsha; Kano; Ibadan, Oyo and Owerri, Imo. One can easily deduce that these states are primary target markets for content creators and podcasters. Though streaming platforms record billions of streaming numbers every year, the Nigerian podcast audience is still around 400,000 listeners.
While Afrobeats has exploded globally due to streaming, internet access in Nigeria is not entirely without problems. Some of these include poor internet penetration, high internet cost and subscription affordability. According to GetdotAfrica, Africa’s internet penetration reached an all-time high of 63% in 2020 but that’s still some way off the global benchmark of over 75%. Yet, the internet is still expensive.
Either within Africa or abroad, podcast audiences may be non-fragmented, thereby leaving platforms to compete for the same audience. In Nigeria, a Podcast Listening Habits poll found that listeners between 15-34 years old made up 78% of podcast enthusiasts. About 43% said they listened to podcasts once a week, while 20.3% said they listened daily. Fridays [48%], Saturdays [40%] and Mondays [36%] were the most preferred days for podcast listening, and 66.1% of respondents said they listen to podcasts at home, while 94.9% said they listened to a podcast on their mobile devices.
The study also found that nearly three quarters of respondents [74.6%] listened to pop culture podcasts, while 37.3% said they listened to podcasts to get information. Unfortunately, since corporate podcasts are set out to provide information about certain themes, services, products, or issues, that is a tiny percentage for which they have to compete. Therefore, podcasters have to adapt their content to current issues and pop culture to improve listeners and download numbers.
But even where the podcast audiences are severely limited, there is also a content problem. Unfortunately, podcasters seem to recycle the same podcast formats. For enterprise podcasts in Nigeria, it is the same problem – formal tone, set-up, conversation and theme. Even if more than 85 million Nigerians still live in poverty, and a large segment of consumers do not have smartphones or struggle with data prices, many are let down by the disappointing quality of content produced.
Still, the younger audience represents an opportunity for brands. It suggests a possible evolution in consumer behaviour which would, in turn, improve awareness and podcast consumption in the country. But we are not there yet, and current trends do not reflect that such evolution, or maybe revolution, will happen soon. But there is a growing appeal, and it cannot be ignored.