Podcasts, aided by the smash hit “Serial,” are having a moment. They’ve broken through with mainstream audiences, they’ve piqued interest from brand advertisers. Ad agencies — when they’re not busy producing their own podcasts — finally feel comfortable discussing podcast buys with clients.
Despite these gains, the podcast industry has been mostly unable to tap into what could become its largest listener segment: people who use phones with Google’s mobile operating system, Android.
“Android devices are the majority of smartphone market, but they’re not the majority of podcast access,” Seth Lind, director of operations at popular podcast “This American Life,” told Digiday.
Much of Apple’s dominance is due to podcasting’s legacy. As the name implies, podcasts initially became popular on iPods, and iTunes was the primary means of disseminating and downloading podcasts. IPods ran on iTunes, thus making Apple the de facto ruler of the podcasting ecosystem.
And that reign persists today. Lind said 65 percent of the mobile Web visits for “This American Life” come from devices that run on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, with just 30 percent from Android. And the gap is even “more stark” when it comes to downloads, he said; he approximated that iOS accounts for 90 percent of the show’s downloads.
Other music platforms — SoundCloud, Stitcher — have entered the industry, but their share of listening is negligible relative to Apple’s, according to Erik Diehn, vp of business development at Midroll Media, a podcast network that sells advertising on popular shows “Comedy Bang Bang,” “WTF with Marc Maron” and “How Did This Get Made?”
“There’s basically Apple and then everybody else,” he said.
But Google could be on par with Apple were it to follow Apple’s lead and create a native podcast app for Android users, Diehn added. And that would equate to surge of potential new listeners — with 98.5 million users in the U.S., Android commands 51.7 of the smartphone software market, according to market research firm eMarketer. Apple is No. 2 with 43.3 percent.
Google declined a request to comment.
Android users can access podcasts, but it’s just not easy for them to do so, Lind explained. And that difficulty partially explains why the medium is so skewed toward iOS. “On Android today, the ecosystem is much more fragmented than on Apple,” Diehn said.
IPhones now come with an Apple-created podcast app preloaded, making it easier for iPhone owners to find podcasts and start listening. Android offers no such app, let alone one that comes stock, meaning users have to go through the extra step of finding and downloading a third-party podcast app before they can hear their favorite shows.
“In the way that Apple has made the podcasting app a default, if Android did the same, it would encourage listening,” Lind said.
Google’s entry into the podcasting market could also bring new brand advertisers to the medium. Whereas Apple is defiantly not an advertising company, Google is. And it could extend its pre-existing relationships with brand advertisers to podcasters, helping them monetize as it already does with app developers in its Google Play store or publishers in its display ad network.
Currently, podcast advertisers tend to be venture capital-backed small businesses running direct-response campaigns. Both Diehn and Lind said that while Google would certainly help provide demand from brands, they believe Google would only provide a complementary ad revenue stream.
“Google is an advertising company, but they’re an algorithmic, automated advertising company. And the ads we sell can’t be sold through an automated mechanism,” Diehn said.
Diehn was referring to ads voiced by the podcast hosts themselves, podcasting’s version of native advertising. And like native advertising with publishers, they cost a premium. Some host-voiced ads go for a $50 CPM, Lind said.
Google would be able to sell “pre-recorded canned spots” for less, Diehn said.
Still, the opportunity on Android is “huge,” according to Lind.
“Demographically, Android should be great for podcasts,” Diehn said, citing Android’s popularity among young, early adopters. “But it requires a lot more effort on Android’s part.”
Homepage image courtesy Shutterstock
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research deep dive: Twitter’s strength holds among publishers
There is perhaps no social media platform that is more appropriate for publishers than Twitter. In this Digiday+ Research deep dive, we look at why this is.
La razón por la que Google y Samsung se asociaron con la personalidad de TikTok Addison Rae para una campaña nostálgica de los años 90
Este verano, Google y Samsung han lanzado su último esfuerzo de marketing conjunto, en el que los gigantes de la tecnología y el hardware aprovechan la nostalgia de principios de los años 90 y utilizan a la TikToker Addison Rae como musa de la generación Z. En su nueva campaña publicitaria con Rae, Google cuenta […]
Las publicaciones invierten en más reporteros especializados en criptomonedas
La semana en que el mercado de las criptomonedas se desplomó a mediados de junio, Fortune envió a Jeff Roberts una oferta para convertirse en su editor de criptografía y supervisar la creación de un equipo de periodistas. Estas circunstancias llevaron a la redactora jefe de Fortune, Alyson Shontell, a hacer una pausa y a […]
SponsoredConsumers expect brands to be authentic in their DE&I commitments
Sponsored by Amazon Ads With consumers looking to brands to take stances on global and social issues that impact their lives, it’s hard to argue the important role brands play in our society. With this great opportunity also comes great responsibility, and consumers are paying attention. New research commissioned by Amazon Ads with Environics Research […]
Vox Media’s Ryan Pauley explains how expanding the CRO role beyond ad sales improves ad sales
In March, Vox Media expanded the purview of Pauley’s role beyond ad sales to also encompass consumer revenue, affiliate and commerce businesses.
Publishers invest in more crypto reporters
Publishers like Bloomberg, Forbes, Fortune, Gizmodo and Money are investing in more reporters to cover cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.