There are plenty of reasons to like podcast advertising. One reason that might be known to interrogators but not obvious to the rest of us is the podcast audience’s state of mind while consuming content and its vulnerability to suggestion.
Podcast ad revenue
Spending on podcast advertising continues to grow at a blistering pace. According to IAB, ad revenue growth jumped from $69 million among the largest companies surveyed in 2015 to $119 million in 2016 and a forecasted $220 million in 2017.
It’s not too difficult to see why podcasting is a hot market. Advertisers are seeing the value in the direct relationship between host and listeners. With production costs low compared to other mediums, there are shows dedicated to very niche topics, with hosts passionate about their material. That makes them an influencer with that community, with credibility and remarkable recommendation power. Compared to digital display ads, podcasting offers a much less competitive landscape that’s naturally ad-blocker resistant.
In addition to these benefits, podcasts are unique because of the setting they’re consumed in. Subscribers often listen while doing other activities, including exercising. Distance runners, weight lifters and all kinds of athletes that train in long stretches need something to pass the time and podcasts are a wonderful solution. The reason that’s important to advertisers is that physical fatigue can bring down our mental defenses and make us more likely to be influenced by suggestion.
According to an article published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, individuals that are fatigued show a greater susceptibility to yielding to leading questions. This is one of the reasons that intense interrogations are often preceded by periods of sleep deprivation. Taken too far, this technique is so successful it can lead to false confessions. During an intense workout, podcast listeners are more likely to be convinced and influenced by effective ad messaging.
The interrogator analogy paints an alarming picture with advertisers playing the role of brain-washer. But our malleability during physical training can be empowering for the listener too. If you’re having a hard time making a positive change, physical exertion may be a catalyst for internalization when combined with audio messages.
The idea of inserting persuasive messaging during physical work is nothing new. Drill sergeants and football coaches have been using the tactics forever, repeating their favorite mantras while their target audience sweats. And judging by college football TV it works; just listen to athlete interviews and count the number of internalized messages that are dredged up when put on the spot.
Brands that advertise on a podcast that’s consumed while exercising now get their turn to play coach.
It seems that everyone is opening up online these days. Tools for lifestreaming like Twitter and Posterous encourage publishers to share all kinds of details – how else are you going to fill a 24 hour day? Each person has a different idea of what’s appropriate to post in a public forum but there are implications for the reader who digests all of these personal details as well.
Flipping through the channels last night, I ended up watching a rerun of Extreme Make Over Home Edition, usually good for a heartwarming story. The Kadzis family was featured and they seem very deserving of a new house, having adopted several special needs children and working in their community. What made last night’s show so unusual was that the day before the crew arrived to start on the new house, George Kadzis was rushed to the hospital, seriously ill. They knew that he had cancerous brain tumors and he had just taken a turn for the worse. The rest of the show made me feel a little strange because while all of the cool, entertaining things going on at the house were happening against the depressing backdrop of George’s deteriorating condition. The segments where ABC interviewed the family were especially awkward and I kept feeling like I shouldn’t be watching it. It was too personal. Even ABC recognized there were some moments too sacred to be broadcast and agreed not to film George in his hospital room. (Although they did have cameras there and included some wide shots with his face blurred.)
With that experience fresh on my mind, I was made aware of another person’s turn for the worse this morning via Twitter. Baby Stellan has a serious heart condition. The only reason I know that is that his mom writes about her children, including Stellan’s struggles, at her blog. The blog is well written with beautiful photography and has a lot of dedicated readers.
Once I was made aware of the story from a Twitter friend, I could easily follow the unfolding events by reading MyCharmingKids.net, following the #Stellan hashtag or reading MckMama’s own Twitter feed (Stellan’s mom.) Seeing the resulting stream of activity is just heartbreaking.
In both cases, I felt surprisingly sad for people I’d never met before. There’s nothing wrong with that; I think we’re all called to have empathy. But it does take an emotional toll when you take on the worries of others.
The solution, of course, is to turn off the source if it becomes a problem. That’s easy enough when you’re talking about turning off a TV show but it’s a little more difficult in the always-on, everyone’s-a-publisher world of lifestreaming. I don’t have any answers for this one, just processing out loud.
Please pray for Stellan and spread the word as appropriate. If you’d like to, you can add a graphic to your Twitter avatar to help raise awareness. Likewise, pray for the Kadzis family. You can also make a donation by following the instructions here.