Digital Gabe
Cutting Edge Commentary On All Things Media

Solving For Podcast Discovery

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No doubt about it, streamed podcast consumption in the US is surging.  According to the latest Edison stats 62M Americans listen to at least one podcast each week, and that total is expected to keep rising.  Despite the increased podcast consumption, there are still the dual problems of helping listeners discover podcasts they’ll enjoy and turning them into habitual listeners.

To bridge the “discoverability gap” top streamers like Pandora and Spotify have launched recommendation engines for spoken word content similar to what they’ve done on the music side for years.  Pandora’s solution is the Podcast Genome Project, which was launched in December.  Pandora human-grades podcast content (per episode), and places it in the genome next to other similar podcasts – like similar genes on a DNA strand.  So if a listener enjoys a particular podcast they’ll be offered more similar content, thus honing the content based on the users’ behavior.

Alternatively, Spotify is testing new app designs that would feature podcasts more prominently on the screen. They’re also displaying podcast recommendations next to music on a personalized playlists like Your Morning Drive.  The idea here is to mingle music and spoken word content in a single recommendation platform, and make podcast consumption just one or two clicks away.

Besides getting listeners to try new podcasts the streamers also need to figure out how to make listening habitual.  To understand the challenge think about the typical way a listener experiments with podcasts.  After receiving a recommendation they click into the podcast and enjoy the experience.   But the next episode of that podcast doesn’t come out for another week, and while the listening experience was pleasant, it wasn’t mind blowing.  Are they going to remember to find that podcast again the next week?  If they haven’t yet formed a daily habit around listening to podcasts, the chances they make the effort to check back for new episodes are fairly low.

Yes, turning discovery into a usage habit is a daunting challenge for any streamer.  But the payoff for those who figure it out will be priceless.

 

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