How do you make money from podcasting? One option is to set up a Patreon, and hope that enough of your listeners want to (and can afford to) chip in. Another way is to create a book to sell, or some extra audio content that is locked behind a paywall. In general, the podcasts that make money are able to do so because they include ads. What happens now that brands are starting to make their own podcasts?
General Electric has a podcast called The Message. It is presented as a sci-fi story that just so happens to mention the real ultrasound technology that General Electric has developed. The noteworthy thing about The Message is that it isn’t simply a long-form audio ad for General Electric. It’s an entertaining podcast on its own.
Umpqua bank has a podcast called Open Account. It currently has six episodes that are hosted by former MTV correspondent SuChin Pak. It is a podcast about money – making it, losing it, and living with it. It is a Panoply podcast.
Prudential insurance has a podcast called 40/40 Vision. It is also a Panoply podcast. The four-episode series is hosted by public radio host and actress Faith Saile. This podcast is aimed toward people who are in their 40’s.
Both 40/40 Vision and Open Account are listed in iTunes as “Sponsored Content”. The phrase appears right before the description, and it would be easy to miss if you were in a hurry to download it. The Message, however, lacks that descriptor in iTunes.
Two of these brand podcasts are hosted by people who aren’t specifically known for podcasting, but would be recognized outside of it. The Message was conceived by General Electric’s in-house media agency, The Grid. The story was written by playwright Mac Rogers.
Admittedly, this is a small sampling of brands that have podcasts. Not many brands are jumping into what they may see as a new form of advertising. They may be waiting to see how well podcasting pays off for other brands before creating their own podcast.
So far, it appears that brands want to select hosts who have experience outside of podcasting. In other words, brands aren’t interested in hiring actual podcasters to host, write, or produce their shows. To me, this is alarming.
If the branded podcasts work out, it could mean that there will be even less opportunities for podcasters to make money by playing ads in their episodes. That might be ok, if the brands were hiring podcasters to create their new podcasts for them. Instead, it seems that when brands jump into this hot new media, they leave podcasters out in the cold.