`Monetisation of podcast is still a huge challenge’

Dhyanesh Vaishnav Mumbai | Updated on August 19, 2019 Published on August 19, 2019

Streaming sound: Despite being around for over 15 years, podcasts have become popular and mainstream only over the last few years   -  ISTOCK.COM

With increasing commuting hours and the digital medium allowing a much wider array of topics to be covered, listenership is bound to multiply.

While podcasting is witnessing a 57 per cent growth rate according to a report by PwC, monetisation is still a huge challenge.

Advertisers are still awaiting wider reach before they start considering it as a potential platform for brands.

Though advertising agencies across the board acknowledge the newfound attention that podcasting has attracted, they plan to wait a little longer before they take the plunge. “Podcasting is an interesting space and we are already warming up to the idea of doing nichè branded content as experimentation. But for it to become our top priority, we need to see more numbers on the platforms. Now with Bollywood entering the space, I am sure big wider reach awaits.”, said Naila Patel, Executive Creative Director of Mirum India.

Podcast producers around the country are constantly trying to test new grounds by producing podcasts in vernacular languages. Hubhopper is one such podcasting company with over 1 million hours of content across 15 languages. “The thing with podcasts is that the engagement and loyalty of the listener is much higher than other audiences because one, you are listening to content that you are deeply passionate about and two, you feel like you are a part of the conversation.”, said Nishant Kumar, Sales and Partnership head at Hubhopper.

While localising content has helped companies avail wider reach, industry players point at the need for awareness as being crucial. Expecting a huge demand for content soon, Hubhopper has also created a training programme called Hubhopper Studio that trains people in becoming podcasters. “It is an 18 step process that we have recognised and we train the participants in all these steps including editing, hosting, recording etc”, said Nishant.

While Nishant argues that India will eventually come to terms with paying for audio content like users have done with the OTT platforms, Amit Doshi, the founder of IVM Podcasts, feels that India will never pay for content and advertising and brands will have to be depended on for revenues.

Doshi, who is one of the first people in India to venture into the podcasting space, says “Though my listener traffic has gone up by 25-30 times in the last 30 months, advertising revenues remain comparatively low. Though we see early interest from companies like PayTM and Storytell, advertising overall is not ready to leap.” The podcasting companies are trying to pull larger numbers by producing varied content, the current revenues are availed from branded content which has already picked up in demand. IVM has collaborated with companies like Motilal Oswal, Aditya Birla Group and Accenture to create content in the branded content space.

With increasing commuting hours and the digital medium allowing a much wider array of topics to be covered, listenership is bound to multiply. “It is inevitable that India will listen to more and more of talk content. We just need to make sure that the content is high quality and right avenues are tapped into to promote the content”, says Doshi. “ Various researches globally have proven that brand advertising in the podcast has a higher recall compared to many mainline format. However in India, while creation and consumption are growing at a very healthy rate, we have not seen a corresponding surge in spends. Largely, this is because of a perceived lack of critical mass, which is a result of marketers wearing outdated lenses while looking at this opportunity. However, a tipping point is just around the corner.”, said Karthik Nagarajan, Head – Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker India.

(The writer is interning with Business Line's Mumbai bureau)

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Published on August 19, 2019
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