How Will Podcast Grow Exponentially with Advancing Technologies

Picture from future thinkers podcast
How hot is podcasting? Stupid V.C. money hot. We can mark 2016 as the year the podcast business came of age.
— Nieman Lab

The next exponential growing market is in your ear. According to Nieman Lab’s research, “podcast advertising expanded at a 48 percent rate last year, and it’s forecast to grow about 25 percent a year through 2020. By that point, it would be approaching half a billion dollars in annual ad revenue.” The podcast users are also growing explosively. In 2016, Monthly podcast listenership has increased 75% since 2013. The podcast audience reaches 57 million Americans in total, which means one in every five Americans is the user of podcast.

Why does podcast blossom in recent years? Jake Shapiro, CEO of RadioPublic, says podcast’s crest has been stoked by these cascading waves:

  • Spotify and Pandora training a generation of listeners to the riches of paid, on-demand listening.
  • Netflix and SiriusXM proving out wider subscription models.
  • The reality of the connected home and connected car (as Ford announces a 2021 fleet of self-driving cars, which will only offer more listening time.)
  • The seemingly overnight development of a critical mass of talented storytellers.
  • Mobile becoming a primary access point. (Listeners now consume 71 percent of all podcasts on their phones, up from 42 percent just three years ago, Edison Research tells us.)

However, podcast has so many problems that hold back it from exponential growth:

  • Hard to attract long-term advertiser. The topics of podcast are usually wide-spread and distributed.
  • Hard to discover or search content. Comparing with blogs, podcast is hard to index specific content in the whole audio. Also, it’s not friendly to search engine or social networks: the content of podcast cannot be directly searched on Google or discovered by Facebook, which makes it hard to spread virally.
  • Hearing sense is less effective than vision sense to get information. Especially for memory, it’s easier for human to remember information by seeing than hearing.

But today, we have handful of advacing technologies like self-driving car, speech recognition, voice interaction. How will podcast use these advancing technologies to grow exponentially in the future?

Speech Recognition and NLP for Podcast Advertising

Advertising is the biggest channel for podcast to get revenue, and when the content of podcast matches the content of the advertisement, audiences are more willing to buy products in the advertisement. As for myself, I even use the vergecast as shopping guide. However, advertising in podcast is hard as podcast usually contains a wide range of content. How to advertising according to podcast’s specific content is always being a problem.

Blogs in fact have the same problem because many bloggers use blogs to record life so their blogs have a wide range of contents. Google Adsense provides solution of monetizing by using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analysis the content of blog posts and then sending the ads which are matching the contents. Podcast can go the same way by combining speech recognition with NLP. By translating the audio into texts and harnessing NLP to analyze text meaning, podcast producer can know what type of ads match and where to insert the ads.

Also, the first set of precedent-setting standards for podcast advertising was finished by the Interactive Advertising Bureau in August 2016. Like Google Adsense, a podcast advertising platform may be formed in near future.

Voice Interaction for Podcast Content Search

To find “keywords” in a blog post, we can just use the search function of browser by to index the “keywords” in several seconds. But it is hard to index specific contents in podcast because it is in audio format and not searchable. Also, podcast is not friendly to social networks or search engine because the content of podcast cannot be directly searched on Google or discovered by Facebook, which makes it hard to spread virally.

To get higher exposure in social network and search engine, podcast publishers usually put their newest episode on Facebook / Twitter to get higher exposure to attract more audiences, and construct websites with give accurate summary to the contents for search engine optimization (SEO).

We are familiar with touch interface to control graphic user interface (GUI) since the born of iPhone. But technologies are developing exponentially and now we are gradually using Siri, Alexa, and Google Now to interact with our devices. An example is Google search. Five years ago, Google search can only be searched by text, but nowadays an icon of microphone appears at the right of input field and you can always choose to speak instead of type. Imaging a future that Google search without text input field: Google search at that time is more like a real human being than a search engine and simply by talking with her, you can get all the answer you want.

Voice-recognition will become a standard for most products as advancements in artificial intelligence (like natural language processing) continue. And at that time, use voice interaction to search for podcast contents will be a much more natural experience than search for texts, which makes podcast popular and grow exponentially in the future.

Self-driving Car Offers More Listening Time

If your ears have free time for listening, will you make full use of them? Self-driving car only only frees your hands, but also your ears.

In the CES 2017, many concept cars leave out the steering wheel and rethink what people can do in car. An interesting fact is that many of them put books in the car indicating it’s a good place for reading. But it’s not the fact: reading in a moving car causes motion sickness according to Scientific American. Instead, listening to podcast will be a better utilization of the time in self driving car. As more people have more time to listening to podcast, the podcast has chance to attract more audiences and grow exponentially in near future.

Podcast has already show great potential in growing according the data by Jay Baer. It is still in the early period of growing but with speech recognition & NLP to solve the advertising problem, voice interaction to solve the seach problem and self-driving car to offer more listening time, the podcast market has great chance to grow exponentially with the help of trending technology.

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