Podcast predictions for 2018

Mamamia director of podcasts Rachel Corbett
By Mamamia director of podcasts Rachel Corbett | 4 December 2017
Rachel Corbett

Mamamia's Rachel Corbett gets crystal ball gazing on what will happen in the podcasting space this year.

Programmatic ads are coming

Companies like Gimlet have already embraced dynamic ad insertion but have also cleverly maintained control over creative, so audiences aren’t hit with jarring advertisements that don’t fit in with the tone of their content. For some large platforms the temptation to insert generic ads may be difficult to resist but the impact on an audience remains to be seen.  

The reason advertisers have seen results from podcasts is because of the trust that exists between a host and their audience, and it will be important not to erode that trust. Advertisers will always get more bang for their buck with ads that are closer to a recommendation than a sell and content producers will need to get the balance right to ensure monetising evergreen content doesn’t come at the cost of the listener experience.

Podcasts will be the new breeding ground for film and TV

Producers are already looking to podcasts for stories that can be translated to the screen.  ‘Startup’ by Gimlet Media is being turned into a TV series starring Zach Braff'; ‘Lore’ has been picked up by Amazon and backed by the producers of ‘The Walking Dead’ and Fox 21 is adapting Serial into a show that follows the making of a podcast as it explores a case. If your great dream has been to have a story made into a film or TV series, then writing a script or bashing out a book is no longer the only way to make that happen.

We’ll finally work out whether Apple’s analytics have been worth all the fuss

While some podcasters are biting their nails about what Apple’s data dump means, increased transparency can only be a good thing for the industry.  If, as metrics improve, we discover some podcasts are less popular than we once suspected, or that no one is listening to ads, the only people this will be a problem for are lazy content creators. Listeners disliking ads is hardly a new concept but concrete evidence they’re skipping through them will force the industry to get creative about what advertising means. Having a better understanding of how content is consumed and what’s resonating with an audience will provide a unique opportunity for new styles, formats and genres to rise from the analytic ashes. And that’s exciting news for all of us.

Smart podcasters will think about creating bite-sized content

As the number of shows listeners are subscribing to grows, bitesized content offers a way to deliver value to an audience without asking for a huge time commitment in return. Getting through a daily feed full of hour long episodes is less and less achievable for an audience so there’s a huge opportunity to create easily digestible podcasts that feed the needs of a time poor, content hungry crowd e.g. NPRs ‘Up First’.

We’ll see the release of more bingeable series

Conventional wisdom was you needed to drip feed content at regular intervals to keep an audience hooked and your show in the charts but that’s been disproved by the success of short-run podcasts like S Town. Companies like Netflix have set the expectation that content can be consumed on a schedule set by an audience rather than a content creator so hopefully we’ll see more binge worthy series hitting our feeds….because who’s got time to wait?

We’ll go behind closed doors

Our obsession with documentary style podcasts is nothing new but for the most part these shows have been highly produced filmic experiences put together by a team of audio professionals. Shows like Esther Perel’s “Where Should We Begin,” while still professionally produced, opens up an opportunity for more intimate ‘fly on the wall’ series. Audio is uniquely placed to document private moments in a more unobtrusive way, but the gatekeepers of these stories will no longer be traditional content creators. They’ll be people, like relationship therapists, who have access to fascinating worlds that audiences have traditionally been kept out of.  

By Mamamia director of podcasts Rachel Corbett

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