Have you heard? Podcast audiences are really listening to you

The 200 Year Old Podcast


Something interesting has happened in the world of South African podcasting. It seems we might be waking up to opportunities the rest of the world is already exploring. Atmosphere’s expert partner, podcast specialist Jayne Morgan, turns up the volume on what those might be.

Have you encountered Sanlam’s current media campaign? It’s the one with the ads that start, “Scientists predict that the first person to live to 200 has already been born…”

It’s an intriguing idea to be sure. But there’s something else interesting about it. Right up there with the radio, print and TV ads, there is The 200 Year Old’ – a four-part, “future-facing” podcast conceptualised by the King James Group that combines a dramatised storyline (performed by well-known South African actors) with top-notch factual content from international experts to tell the story of the first 200 year old.

Podcasts aren’t a new thing in South Africa but this is a first. A major brand putting significant resources into making a creative, high production value podcast series that’s right at the heart of a major campaign.

The question is why? When radio and TV can deliver documented millions of listeners and viewers, why would a brand like Sanlam bother with a relatively untested channel that hasn’t really proven that it can deliver audiences?

The answer is probably that they’re keen to explore something that brands in more developed podcast markets have been enjoying for a while: podcast audiences love the content they access. They’re more engaged than most other media consumers.

BE Media’s James Cridland says podcasting involves people making the decision to listen, “So, they’ve actually got real attention, real focus on what they’re listening to.”

So while there might not be millions of listeners, the ones you do have are right there with you, which means improved brand and advertising message recall.

A recent study by Midroll Media in the US reported that 90% of podcast listeners listened to the ads in their chosen podcasts, 80% were able to name at least one brand advertised in an episode and 67% could name a specific product feature of a promotion. Same goes for sponsors’ names and brand messages. Those are impressive figures in a world where on-demand listening and viewing is putting pressure on advertisers who are doing everything they can not to be ‘fast-forwarded’.

What’s more, Apple’s new analytics can give podcast providers unprecedented levels of information about their listeners.

Why do people love their podcasts so much? Because they offer really appealing content that they can’t get elsewhere. And that’s especially true in this country. South African radio, understandably, is dedicated to creating the cheapest possible programming and is hamstrung by its formatting. Think about it. What radio station here could – or would – have created a series like The 200 Year Old?

This provides huge opportunities for SA brands – especially if you’re aiming at a niche audience hungry for content specifically relevant to them. Last year, Podcart produced weekly road running and mountain biking podcasts for Old Mutual’s sponsorship-leveraging World of Endurance site. This resulted in thousands of downloads by athletes loving the relevant content from the brand.

Podcasts like The 200 Year Old show the hunger for creative, clever, genuine content. In exchange, brands get high brand interaction, loyalty and engagement.

Jayne Morgan is a podcast production specialist who started Podcart in 2007 to make quality downloadable audio for South African brands.