By Marla Isackson, Founder and CEO, Ossa
Podcasts are an underutilized tool. Many advertisers aren’t aware of the tremendous potential to reach vast, underrepresented audiences through podcasts.
Part of the problem is that many people associate podcasts with “bro” culture and there’s some truth to that. Only 27% of podcasts are created by women.
But that’s rapidly changing.
Thanks, in part, to the greater time many of us spent connected to our digital devices during the pandemic, women now make up 46% of monthly podcast listeners, according to Edison Research, bringing the level of women listeners to an all-time high. People of color make up nearly 40% of listeners and 3% of monthly podcast consumers identify as nonbinary.
When you consider the buying power of underrepresented groups, the potential impact for brands is mind boggling. Women control or share 89% of daily shopping needs, according to Catalyst. The LGBTQ+ population in the U.S. has a buying power of $1 trillion, and people of color or who have a multi-racial background control 18.3% of the buying power.
The Unique Influence of the Podcaster
Podcast hosts often have an influence that is disproportionate to the number of listeners they have. When a talented host broadcasts, listeners feel like the host is talking directly to them. Once a host forms that intimate connection, many listeners keep coming back.
This brings a level of emotional engagement and trust that big brands can’t replicate through traditional advertising. If the host mentions a particular brand, it’s akin to getting a recommendation from a good friend.
Podcast ads are the most recalled type of ad, with 86% of listeners saying they remember hearing an ad, compared to 80% for social media and 79% for websites, according to Edison’s SuperListeners 2021 Report. For audiences that have been all but ignored, ads that target them are welcomed and not seen as interruptions. These customers are very likely to buy.
So How Can Brands Tap Into the Power of Niche Podcasters?
Here are three steps to getting started:
1. Know the key players.
Take the time to listen to a variety of podcasts that target the type of audience you want to reach, within the context of your brand’s goals. If, for instance, you want to reach women, you’ll want to drill down to podcasts on their specific interests that your brand can address.
If you’re selling gluten-free pasta, advertising on a podcast for women who want to learn how to fix their own cars probably won’t get you very far but choosing a podcast for women who love healthy cooking is a solid bet.
2. Don’t judge podcasters by their downloads alone.
That is not the only measure of success. What is most important is to understand the level of trust individual podcasters have built with their communities. A podcaster who has a relatively small following but, for instance, hosts a sold-out annual conference every year could have influence that goes far beyond what download stats will tell you.
Keep in mind that podcasters are likely to become more sophisticated over time in using technology that amplifies their voice, so building relationships early can pay off.
3. Choose the right call to action.
It’s always helpful to come up with a call to action that is designed for each podcast but finding the right one can require some experimenting. In my experience, the strongest calls to action for underrepresented groups have a message of diversity and inclusion.
One of my favorite recent calls to action was LinkedIn’s February launch of its first podcast network, which highlights diversity in the workplace and includes podcasts like “Brown Table Talk,” which focuses on women of color.
The Bottom Line
As the podcasting world becomes increasingly diverse, best practices for reaching audiences will evolve to reflect the greater number of voices being heard. In the meantime, brands that embrace this highly effective form of advertising to reach underrepresented audiences will have an edge in developing the knowledge to build great relationships with listeners.
About the Author
Marla Isackson is founder and CEO of Ossa Collective, a women and non-binary podcast community and ad booking platform that aims to increase the visibility, influence and earning power of women and non-binary people in podcasting.