Advertisers need greater education on podcasting, say marketing experts

Co-hosts of How I Became emphasise the importance of creativity in the medium

Brands and agencies need to be better educated about the business case for podcasting and audio and how they could be used to push a brand forward, marketing experts Ashley Samuels-McKenzie and Charles Parkinson have said. 

Samuels-McKenzie and Parkinson are the the co-founders of creative agency Unity & Motion, as well as the co-hosts of hit career podcast How I Became, in which they interview key figures from the world of marketing about their life stories. In the latest episode of the PodPod podcast, both experts spoke about the importance of creativity in podcasting and why brands should be investing more in this medium. 

According to Samuels-McKenzie, it takes longer for bigger organisations to adapt to new trends and to start implementing them in their strategy. The use of consistent video content was a topic that they would still have conversations about with brands when the pair first set up the agency nearly 10 years ago, he said, although it is now considered “a given” for any brand. 

“It's very similar now when you see the amount of people that are saying that you need to be on TikTok,” said Samuels-McKenzie. “Slowly we'll see more and more brands kind of adopt that and utilise it but at the moment, a lot of them are looking at it like ‘we don't understand it, we don't know how our strategy can fit’.”

Samuels-McKenzie also added that podcasting is being “massively underused” by brands as a way to connect with audiences on a much deeper level. One way that brands can use podcasts to their advantage, he said, is by sharing the inner workings of the process for building massive campaigns such as big-budget Christmas ads.

“When you look at some of these ads - the Christmas ads, for instance - that are usually a quarter of a million,” said Samuels-McKenzie, “just a small percentage of [the budget] put into sound, put into thinking of how can we show some more insight into how this is put together, or how we care, or our joy around creating a Christmas ad, could go a really long way in connecting people with that brand at a deeper level of understanding the mechanics behind how these things come into being.” 

Other ways that brands can tap into the medium is by leveraging the unique relationship that hosts have with their audience in order to create host-read sponsorships that have a personal connection and resonate with the audience more deeply. Branded podcasts also need to make sure that they’re focusing on the storytelling aspect of audio advertising campaigns in order to make the most impact, he advised, as getting a reaction from an audience is what “will really set your podcast above the rest”, according to Parkinson. 

“If you're able to create an emotional reaction from your audience, whether that's laughter, whether that's suspense or surprise, that is what you're looking for and that's what storytelling and creativity can do,” said Parkinson. 

“Sound is such a powerful medium that can take people on a journey,” said Samuels- McKenzie. “With a sprinkle or a tinkle of rhyme in the spoken lines, you can create an experience that can leave a true message to reside.”