Brand Podcasting Questions, Answered: Q&A with Director of Strategy Jonas Woost
Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling
Over the past few months, we've heard from the folks at Pacific Content on a number of important items as they relate to brand-funded podcasts - from the origins of the company to finding success in branded podcasting as well as how implementing audience development tools can ensure overall success. In that time we've taken your questions, the talking points and ideas most pertinent to our audience, and compiled them to be answered by none other than Pacific Content Director of Strategy Jonas Woost. Check out these insightful answers to your top-of-mind brand podcast questions:
What’s the great advantage for a brand to invest in a podcast over other media?
Podcasts are so powerful because they allow for a much deeper level of engagement with the audience compared to most other types of content marketing. The most successful shows can retain listeners for nearly an entire 30-minute episode (ave. completion rate of 80% to 90%). And they’re listening to multiple episodes. This means that listeners are spending multiple hours with a brand. Voluntarily.
These incredible time-spent-listening numbers allow brands to tell nuanced stories that truly represent its values, all of which make podcasts the perfect top-of-funnel content marketing tool.
Oh, and the cost is not nearly what it is to produce video. Not only can many podcasts be produced at a lower cost-per-minute rate compared to video productions, when you factor in the average consumption rate per listener you end up with an amazing cost per minute of audience attention.
How do I figure out as a brand what kind of story to tell?
This is one of the biggest questions brands have to ask themselves: what stories do they want to tell and what stories should they tell. What you are essentially trying to figure out is what story are you, as a company, uniquely positioned to tell. And, if that story will be entertaining and of value to an audience.
One great caution: don’t make a show about your product or service. Instead, ask yourself if the show you are creating represents your brand’s values.
What if I don’t have the bandwidth to dedicate a team to production, analytics, etc.?
A successful podcast takes work. Quick wins are very rare in audio storytelling. But, it pays off over time with the development of a loyal fanbase.
Even though podcasting for brands requires a time investment, a lot of it can be outsourced. Make sure to find the right production partner that will not only help with the storytelling but also with the marketing and promotion of the podcast. Most podcast agencies will only help with the production of the audio and then leave the audience development to the client. Most often this does not lead to the best results as podcast audience development requires a very specific set of expertise.
What’s the key to nailing the type of podcast your brand is going to create before creating it? How do you land on a narrative style, host, etc.?
The key is a thoughtful approach. First, figure out what exactly the goal is for the podcast. We always ask clients: what job are you hiring the podcast to do? Then we talk about the audience that they want to reach.
Once you have a very clear picture of what the podcast is designed to achieve and how you'll measure its success, all other creative decisions become a lot easier. Keep referring back to the original goal.
What should I be measuring as a brand creating a podcast? Where do I seek my ROI?
Time spent listening is the number one metric we look at. For what length of time did audiences listen to an episode and at what point did they turn it off? A high completion rate signals editorial excellence and confirms that listeners enjoyed the show.
We also recommend conducting brand lift studies with people that have been listening to the podcast. This is the best way to measure what impact the show had on a listener. Do they remember which brand produced the podcast? Did it change the way they think about the brand? Did they take any action after they listened?
Of course, we look at reach as well. Even though audience size is not the most important number to focus on, you still want to make sure your podcast drives some sort of scale. It's great if every listener loves your show, and consequently becomes a customer, but if you have only reached three listeners the investment might not pay off.
How much or little should my brand appear in the marketing, messaging, and production of the podcast to achieve brand lift?
We have learned that there is no advantage to mentioning the brand name over and over again. One mention at the start of the show then again at the end is effective. We have seen amazing brand recall rates with that sort of light brand touch.
We also recommend that the brand is clearly marked as the publisher of the podcast. We don't want listeners to think that the brand is simply a sponsor of the podcast. It’s important that it be clear that they are the producers of it. Wherever the podcast is released (Apple Podcast, Spotify, etc) the listener will clearly recognize the brand as the creator.
What do I stand to learn from the number of listens, audience demo, etc?
The number of listens and the demographic data give us fairly little information. You are not making a podcast to reach a certain number of people. You create a podcast to solve a business problem. We want to measure how the podcast has helped solve it.
Obviously, you want to make sure you reach a certain number of people but the more important question is are you building an engaged audience? And, what are they thinking after listening to the podcast?
What’s your favorite brand-funded podcast or a great example you share with people looking to be inspired?
Whether they are funded by a brand or not, we love shows that are full of engaging storytelling, amazing characters, and immersive sound design. Examples (produced by Pacific Content) that stand out are Charles Schwab’s Choiceology, Dell Technologies’ Trailblazers and Rocket Mortgage’s Home. Made. We also love Ben & Jerry’s Who We Are podcast.
About Jonas Woost
Jonas is a digital media and entertainment executive with a passion for innovating in the digital content ecosystem. His work has received a number of awards and in 2019 he was named one of BC’s 40 under 40. Between 2015 and 2019, Jonas was the Executive Producer for Original Content & STORYHIVE at TELUS. He helped one of the biggest Canadian telecommunication companies tell impactful and engaging stories while at the same time supporting Western Canada’s community of filmmakers.
Previously Jonas was with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) where he ran CBC Music, which was one of the most successful digital music services in Canada, attracting 1.2 million visitors every month. Before moving to Canada in 2010, Jonas was the Head of Music at the London-based digital music start-up Last.fm. He was in charge of all negotiations and relationships with music owners when CBS acquired Last.fm for US$280 million in 2007.