In a world of increasingly pervasive images, simply listening to words alone seems an anachronistic habit. Yet, today, podcasts manage to engage the attention of their listeners for up to 40 minutes, an infinity of time compared to the handful of seconds everyone spends on the numerous videos available everywhere on the web, from YouTube to TikTok, via Instagram.
This raises the question: what’s so special about podcasts? One thing for certain is that they follow very precise rules, as Rossella Pivanti explains in an interview with Silvia Pagliuca during an event held at PHYD, shedding light on the paths through which it is possible to embark on a career as a podcaster, the skills needed and the ways to acquire them.
Pivanti’s experience includes well over 25 podcast series for brands such as Mini BMW, BPER Banca, Danone and Lavazza. She has also been a Ted speaker and instructor for Spotify and numerous universities.
The Italian podcast market has certainly soared in the last three years, in number, formats, themes and, above all, interest and investment by brands.
The first aspect to be defined, however, is what a podcast is, often confused with a repeat of a radio programme. It is an audio product, unreleased, distributed online, which can be shared, also available offline if downloaded on a digital device. The definition is not just a way of searching for an identity in a world of overlapping media. It is also useful to highlight the potential in terms of data collection and statistics that represent a real strength in favour of podcasts, making them appreciated by commercial sponsors, and opening up an infinite world of possibilities for Branded Podcasts.
When it all began
Pivanti explains that the origins of podcasts date back to 2006 in the USA, where they developed gradually until 2015, a year when growth started to become exponential. The name and date of its debut can be easily traced back to the launch of the iPod in 2001, iTunes in 2003, and iPhone in 2007. In the beginning, they were an easy and inexpensive way to share stories and opinions, within everyone’s reach. Without having to rely on a radio station or buy expensive video equipment.
The podcast’s Italian debut didn’t come about until 2018, mainly due to technology-related issues, but the growth that has followed since then boasts increases of 10% per year, probably also driven by the pandemic period, when many people found themselves at home with more time to experiment with new media. Nowadays, IPSOS reports that podcast listeners in Italy number a substantial 9.3 million, with an average listening time that has almost doubled in a year from 25 to 40 minutes. Not surprising when analysing the average listener: executives, entrepreneurs, graduates, even with a master’s degree, interesting profiles for brands wishing to interact with a target audience of this calibre, equally divided, or united, between men and women.
Even the elusive GEN-Z is discovering the pleasure, usefulness and fun that podcasts can offer. This is also due to the lowering of the average age of podcasters. After all, embarking on this profession, whether at an amateur or professional level, does not entail any great initial investment, except in terms of time and passion.
The necessary skills
Silvia Pagliuca emphasises that the skills needed to undertake this work are not limited to those of voice or audio technician. Whether you decide to produce your own podcasts playing all the roles, or to be part of a larger team, the skills required and the roles to assume are manifold: author, voice or presenter, audio technician, and marketing manager, both for the promotion of the pods and for the collection and study of the data they may provide.
Data, in fact, are part of the details that make all the difference. While the Internet has long made it possible to monitor how many users visit sites or watch videos, the advent of Facebook brought the concept of ‘profiling’ into vogue. Not only a quantitative assessment of the audience of each podcast, but also a qualitative one. Such data render podcasting particularly interesting for sponsors and brands, as data yield a more accurate assessment of performance.
The market for experienced professionals in this field is already buzzing. Major companies such as Amazon have opened positions for Podcast Managers and Producers; Spotify is looking for professionals to promote podcasts within its offer. Training opportunities to work in this field are increasing: Many courses are springing up to offer specialisation in the various roles of the podcast industry.
A profession that is destined to develop more and more, opening up many interesting possibilities.
You can watch the entire event, simply register on the PHYD site.