Traci Long DeForge is an internationally recognized podcast expert, the founder of Produce Your Podcast and an original member of the Podcast Business Journal Editorial Board.
PBJ: How would you summarize podcasting in 2019?
Traci Long DeForge: 2019 has been the year of familiarity. It’s the year we went from “innovators” and “early adopters” to “early and late majority” on the technology adoption bell curve. It feels like it happened overnight, yet in reality it’s been building steady momentum over the last five years. It certainly reached a mainstream tipping point in 2019 — Evidenced by my 80-year-old parents finally understanding that my podcast business is actually a real business after four years! In all seriousness, at the beginning people were always asking me the question, “What is a podcast?” and now I more often answer the question, “Does my business need a podcast?”
PBJ: What disappointed you the most?
Traci Long DeForge: The ongoing challenge around discoverability. Despite the breadth of exposure and excitement around podcasting there are still significant discoverability issues. According to the most recent Edison research, 54% of all podcast listeners who listen to podcasts on their smartphones are using their iPhone, which means 43% of listeners are using the Android platform. It’s still a big source of confusion for podcasters and for listeners on the best way to listen to podcasts on Android smartphones. Google Podcasts made major strides this year in enhancing discoverability and I’m certain it is likely to continue improving in 2020.
PBJ: The most overused phrase or term in 2019 was…
Traci Long DeForge: The Joe Rogan Podcast.
PBJ: What do you expect to happen in 2020?
Traci Long DeForge: Raising the value of creating an audio brand for businesses. We’ll see a significant increase in branded podcasts being utilized as marketing tools for all-sized businesses. I’m already seeing a substantial increase in the number of businesses that are enhancing their marketing strategies with the addition of a podcast. Also, it’s nice to see podcast production as a line item expense on their marketing budgets.
The expansion of niche content networks. As the number of podcasts grow, so does the demand for more audience share. Podcast networks that focus on specific content categories can be a win-win-win for the podcaster, the listener, and potential advertisers. They have the ability to bring exposure to the podcaster whose subject matter is aligned with the niche category. Listeners can find podcasts they want to listen to all in one place. Advertisers can get vertical engagement from loyal listeners in a targeted category.
PBJ: There seems to be some anger toward radio getting into the space.
1. Do you believe that to be the case?
Traci Long DeForge: I see it as more a sense of frustration rather than anger. I have a strong radio background, so I see both sides of the scenario.
2. Why the frustration? Isn’t it a good thing that more players — no matter where they come from — are joining the podcasting craze?
Traci Long DeForge: The more people podcasting, promoting podcasts, and talking about podcasts elevates the whole industry. It fundamentally comes down to better communication between corporate broadcasting and indie podcasters. Both parties can benefit from a respectful appreciation for the value each side brings to podcasting. Veteran broadcasters could benefit from focusing on bringing radio forward into the podcasting space, not trying to pull podcasting backwards into their traditional business model. Indie podcasters should remain protective of the unique opportunities indie podcasts present, while being more investigative into how radio has successfully monetized audio storytelling for a lot of years. They could glean insights that could work for them as individuals. No one benefits from blanket contempt on either side.
PBJ: Will subscription models survive the long haul?
Traci Long DeForge: I do think subscription models will survive over time. The question is how will they evolve? Like so many other podcast developments, it’s still the Wild, Wild West in the sense of viability and profitability. My prediction is we’ll see more personality-based subscription models being created but moving away from third-party community platforms. They will be utilized as niche community builders tied into their own websites. Podcasting remains the central focus but will also include bundled content and branded merchandise, along with private host access online and through live events.
PBJ: What will advertisers think of podcasts over the next 1-3 years?
Traci Long DeForge: The trends speak for themselves. According to the IAB, podcast advertising is expected to exceed $500 million in 2019, which is growth rate of about 65% in two years. I think they will go from curiosity and beta testing to being a fixed part of marketing budgets. The future is so bright for podcasting advertising you gotta wear shades!
PBJ: What 3 podcasts you would love to see breakout in 2020…
Traci Long DeForge: 1. COACHED. The COACHED podcast is hosted by Coach Keren Eldad, world-class personal and executive coach and TedX speaker. She’s obsessed with Frazier so she designed her show to be a “live” call-in show where she answers your questions and coaches you on any issue that concerns you, including money, success, relationships, love, parenting, politics, personal development and more. The audio quality is seamless for the level of production and editing it takes to simulate a live show. The quality of the content is both entertaining and inspiring!
2. The Memoir Podcast is hosted by Bobbie Goldie. “Be a better person than you were yesterday” is Bobbie Goldie’s quote, and the motivation behind this podcast. Bobbie self-reflects by visiting the chapters of her life where she’s persevered through cancer, depression, addiction, adoption, poverty, and abuse. She’s raw, open, and real and you come away from each episode saying, “WOW.”
3. Journey to There: Exploring the intersection between personal & growth. This might be the most audacious, shameless self-promotion of all time, but hear me out… I suffered the biggest bout of “pod fade” this year and I sincerely want to blow my podcast out in 2020. If I’m telling you this… Well… I have to be accountable! Can anyone say shoemaker with no shoes???
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