Magazine publisher Bauer is staging something of a return to its radio roots by getting deeper into podcasts.
In the past month, the publisher has added two new weekly podcast series, for a total of 73 podcasts. One, “Grazia Life Advice,” is an extension of its weekly fashion magazine Grazia and features successful women sharing advice. “Grazia Life Advice” gets 10,000 weekly downloads, according to the publisher, which is above average compared to Bauer’s previously launched podcasts. The second new show, “My Planet Rocks,” from Bauer radio station Planet Rock, features interviews from rock stars like Mick Jagger and Jimmy Page.
“Podcasts have that escapism factor. We can use them to connect in a personal and engaging way with who we partner with,” said Vicky Foster, commercial director for digital at Bauer Media.
Bauer’s most popular podcasts are “The Frank Skinner Show,” from its radio station Absolute Radio, and “The Empire Film Podcast,” produced by its film magazine, Empire. Foster said both shows get around 200,000 weekly downloads. These are pretty respectable numbers, to Charlie Yeates, commercial trading director at MediaCom.
More than 6 million people in the U.K. listen to podcasts every week, according to auditing firm Radio Joint Audience Research. Globally, the U.K. has one of the smaller appetites for podcasts, with 18 percent listening to podcasts at least monthly compared to 33 percent in the U.S., according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report.
Listeners are engaged. A quarter of the podcast audience listened to podcasts in the last six months, but 68 percent of those who listened did so weekly, according to research that Bauer did on 2,500 of its listeners. Bauer also found that most people listen for 30 minutes, and in some cases, up to 50 minutes. (The length of Bauer’s podcasts varies, but can exceed an hour.)
Roughly two dozen of Bauer’s podcasts are sponsored, with advertisers running messages within the show or having podcast content developed to fit their objectives. Retailer Primark sponsors “Grazia Life Advice,” and “The Empire Film Podcast” has recently signed a three-month partnership deal with Sky Cinema that involves tailoring the content to Sky Cinema.
“We’re seeing interest grow from brands, and revenue will only increase over time,” Foster said.
Podcasting has its limitations with advertisers, though. A lack of standardized measurement and tracking has hampered its growth. Advertisers also are wary of intruding in such an intimate medium. “Loosely, podcasts are probably between 5 and 10 percent of audio streaming ad spend, so it’s a slice of a piece from a slice of a piece,” said Yeates.
That leads to a Catch-22: If U.K. publishers can’t be guaranteed advertising dollars, they won’t spend on big talent and high production value that defines the podcast market in the U.S. But without premium content and audience numbers, advertisers won’t shell out for podcasts.
MediaCom has seen interest from advertisers grow over the past year, but that has seldom translated to commitment, said Yeates.
“We’re closely monitoring it because we know audiences are going there, and it’s only going to increase,” he said.