Podcasting is indisputably the fastest growing medium in the world right now. It has seen growth of upwards of 70% year-on-year for the last 3 years and 28% of the American population are now regular podcast listeners (Edison Research). To put that in perspective, Facebook is experiencing no growth at all in North America, and is sliding backwards in Europe, according to the Facebook Earnings report October 2018.
From an industry point of view, there is consolidation and expansion in some very interesting spaces. A content creator like Stuff Media was bought by iHeart Radio for $55 million, and an advertising exchange like AdsWizz (bought by Pandora for R145 million) are creating waves in the new media world. Programmatic and automated advertising are on the increase and big podcast shows are drawing advertising away from music streaming monsters like Spotify and Apple Music. According to iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman, “The real opportunity to bring the full potential of podcasts to the mainstream still lies ahead”.
So what’s happening in South Africa? When we launched CliffCentral.com almost five years ago, our aim was to create a preeminent global online content hub. With online radio being a relatively new phenomenon in 2014 and podcasting almost unknown, we decided to claim the space in both areas and start getting audiences accustomed to new ways of finding the content they cared about.
Online radio hasn’t even started to take off – mostly because data prices are still much too high (for a variety of very good and bad reasons) and because a lot of people still don’t realise that terrestrial radio isn’t the only audio option. When we started streaming, it was only early adopters but we’re starting to see the signs of the mainstream catching on. Live, online radio is going to be the obvious home of news, sport and extreme relevance. That period is still coming – and it could be as soon as 2019.
According to local research conducted by Matt Brown, podcast uptake has grown by 50% in 2018 and represents the fastest growing sector of media consumption in South Africa. In our experience at CliffCentral.com, we’re just getting started. We’ve entered a phase where quality, rather than quantity is becoming important. Creating bespoke podcast series in specific areas of interest or for brands is definitely taking on a life of its own. .
Podcasts may be used to educate, inspire, motivate or just for entertainment purposes. For advertisers, it’s a great way to get into people’s private spaces. What we do at Cliffcentral is create podcasts which connect brands with a valuable, engaged audience – by creating authentic and relevant content – and distributing it through multiple digital channels.
Gareth Cliff is the founder of CliffCentral.