Podcasts and livestreams for specialist publishers
Podcasts are booming in the news media, where they can reach large audiences, build a habit and generate significant ad revenue. But how do they translate to specialist consumer and B2B publishing businesses? Our recent round table brought together MDs from a range of independent publishers to share their experiences of podcasting, live streaming and other audio-visual content. This is what we discovered:
It’s live and on demand audio-visual content, not just podcasts
Think about all your short form (under an hour) audio-visual content together. Podcasts are part of the mix, but running regular livestreams on zoom or webinar platforms, or repackaging your virtual event content meets a similar need. They reach your audience where they are, in an intimate format they can listen to at their convenience. Lockdown has affected listening patterns, where once they were clustered around car commutes and lunchtime, now they are more spread out, although Sunday is a popular peak.
An intimate medium that builds reach and engagement
A regular series of podcasts, interviews or livestreams builds a close connection with an audience. They get to know your hosts well and feel closer to your interviewees and panellists. Consumer publishers learned that informal discussions within the editorial team or following a reader through their coaching journey were more popular than technical information. B2B publishers found that in-depth, personal interviews with industry leaders were valued. Questions and feedback on live sessions provide deeper engagement with the audience. Platforms with registration are great for growing a database and segmenting audiences based on the content they have consumed.
It’s show business more than technical info
An engaging host is crucial – this is as much entertainment as information. Your specialist editors and contributors are often already halfway to celebrity status in the minds of your readers: build on this.
Sponsorship is the most lucrative commercial model
Some niche B2B publishers can charge a few hundred pounds for a host to read out an ad, but a custom podcast for a sponsor is priced at a couple of thousand. Having podcasts in your portfolio can extend the appeal of a brand to your advertiser base. Listening numbers may be low, but engagement is high. Some more mainstream publishers find including a voucher code for subscription offers in a podcast works well. And a purely editorial series of podcasts or livestreams can be a valuable part of a content proposition. The Economist runs a regular series of online seminars exclusively for paid subscribers.
But sponsors need education in contributing to audio-visual content – product detail is not as appealing as a lively discussion or more personal interview. This doesn’t work for all sponsors – those looking for volume lead generation rather than deep awareness among a loyal audience won’t get results from podcast sponsorship: virtual events may be a better route.
The pandemic has made production easier
Recording remotely on zoom or other video platforms is more convenient for publishing teams. And it’s easier to bring in guests remotely than herding them into a physical studio.
Discoverability and distribution are still challenging
Podcasts in specialist sectors find it harder to reach a large audience. Platforms like Apple and Spotify offer potential reach but discoverability is a challenge, and you don’t know who is listening. Offering on-page players is more targeted and engagement is good, but reach is smaller. It takes time to build up a following to an audio-visual series, but if you have an email database or online audience you can promote directly.
This round table was set up with members of the Speciall Media Group, an online community of 120 MDs, publishers and directors in independent B2B and B2C businesses. We have an online forum hosted on Guild and run regular virtual round tables on hot topics suggested by the group. It’s free (for now) but invite only – you can request to join here. https://guild.co/groups/742/speciall-media-group
About the author
Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014) she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.