Podcast and trend 2024: shall we have a chat?

Creative Building
luglio 2024 - 5 minuti

Today more than ever, when we talk about online relationships, we are talking about conversations: voice is the medium that is increasingly making its way into the exchange of ideas and opinions, information and chatter on the web. And this is how the podcast is bidding to become the perfect medium to make culture and build the connections of the future – one episode at a time.

The podcast phenomenon explained in a nutshell

Let’s take a step back. If you don’t know, a podcast is a digital medium consisting of audio – mostly – or video episodes. It can be enjoyed both online, on dedicated platforms, and offline, once downloaded. You don’t need much to start producing: the starting point for any podcaster is some ideas, recording software and a microphone. Anyone is free to record and share, a bit like the independent radio stations of the 1970s.

And just like a radio programme, the podcast is first and foremost a form of entertainment, accessible at any time. A podcast exists for anything: to inform, educate, inspire, excite, make people laugh. It can cover a specific topic or range in topics with each episode. It can have one host, more than one, guests to interview. It can have a different duration, a more or less informal tone, a fixed or entirely improvised set list, even include video. The variety is almost infinite.

Podcasts: the most listened to content and the role of brands

Podcasts today are an increasingly used tool globally: according to Deloitte’s forecasts, by 2024 the average monthly listeners worldwide will be 1.7 billion. And in Italy? Nielsen research for Audible reveals that in total we are more than 16 million, one more than in 2022. What are the favourite contents? On Spotify, the categories most played by Italians in the first half of 2023 were Culture and Society (27%), True Crime (18%), Comedy (15%), Education (13%), and Arts and Entertainment (12%).

It is not only users and creators who are big fans of the podcast: having realised its potential, for some years now companies have also started to invest in audio platforms with advertisements and branded content, which allow them to create an authentic bond with their audience and reach new ones.

So is everything rosy with podcasts? Of course not. First of all, producing a podcast requires time to be spent on recording, editing, distribution and other supporting activities, but there is another, even more important factor. Quoting Bill Gates: content is king, in a podcast even more so. It is not enough to just publish: the content – especially in audio format – must be interesting and of quality to work, keeping the attention high episode after episode.

The word from Generation Z

According to Spotify’s ‘Culture Next’ report, Gen Z listened to more than 3 billion podcast episodes in the first half of 2023, a 76% increase over the previous year.

For 75% of Italian Gen Z, podcasts have become the most engaging means of finding information, far more reliable than social media. What topics are they passionate about? Among the most popular are: True crime (+133%), Sport (+100%), Science (+23%), Music (+17%).

Not only entertainment: podcasts are also increasingly used in the field of education, thanks to candid interviews and debates that engage and fuel conversation among young people. In Italy, listening to podcasts by Gen Z in the Education category has increased by 58% in the last year; the Religion/Spirituality (+218%), Health and Fitness (+110%), History (+79%) categories have also grown significantly.

But then: are podcasts just the stuff of young people? No, or rather not only. According to Spotify’s ‘Podcast Trends 2023’ report, podcasts continue to attract listeners of all ages. Specifically, the audience aged 45 and over has grown a lot, even more so the 55-64 age group. Would you ever have guessed it?

Podcasts of the future: 4 trends for 2024

It is still too early to define what the biggest trends of the year just started will be, but we have identified some very interesting ones. Let’s look at them together.

More and more podcasts will have video options

Interest in the video format is growing steadily, driven by the popularity of YouTube and streaming platforms such as Twitch that attract that segment of the audience that prefers visual entertainment. Many podcasting platforms have started to integrate video podcast offerings, immediately registering a rapid increase. An example? To date, there are already more than 100,000 on Spotify.

AI will become an integral part of podcasts

As in any industry,artificial intelligence will also shake up the world of podcasts by influencing both the production and creation of content. Many podcasters still seem sceptical about the impact of this technology, but listeners are of a different opinion: in a study conducted by Acast, a leading independent podcast company, 82% of them were in favour ofusing AI to improve audio quality, while 80% found it useful for overcoming language barriers, translating captions into multiple languages and thus making content more accessible.

More live streaming and events

In 2022, the live streaming market was worth $1.24 billion, but estimates for the coming years predict even more impressive figures. Audiences do not just want to listen to recorded episodes, but to feel involved and interact: what could be better than live streaming? But it doesn’t end there: some podcasts have started to take the live experience to the next level, with events and shows that not only allow them to meet their listeners, but also to increase revenue.

The market for podcast ads is growing

Monetisation opportunities for podcasters and advertisers are set to increase, as audiences are not only willing to listen and explore topics, but also to buy, and according to Spotify’s ‘Podcast Trends 2023’ report, 75 per cent of consumers believe that podcast hosts are more likely to influence purchasing decisions than influencers on social. But this for the moment happens in the United States, in Italy there is still work to be done.

In any case, it seems clear that podcasts are no longer just a form of entertainment, but an important part of brand strategies. Tomorrow is all to be written, and listened to.