When Reuters Institute recently asked news publishers about their plans for 2022, 80% of them said more resources will be dedicated to audio. Swedish media conglomerate NTM is included in that 80%, and we want to profit from it.
Audio has a lot of buzz, and companies like Spotify are investing huge amounts of money recruiting podcasters like Joe Rogan, the “Lionel Messi of sound.” The audio transfer market is apparently worth big bucks. So is the advertising potential in the coming years.
A new report recently delivered by the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association and the IRM Institute for Advertising and Media Statistics noted that advertising revenues from podcasts have increased in Norway by 60% from 2020 to 2021. Of course, this is growing from a low level compared to more traditional channels, but it is still significant.
Audio journalism, podcasts are growing fast
Every year, it constitutes a greater share of people’s total media consumption. In Sweden, the majority of users are between 18 and 25 years old, the largest growth in listening happens for those 30 to 44 years old, and every fifth Swede states they have reduced their use of other channels in favour of podcasting.
All of these facts make it urgent for local media companies like NTM to determine an editorial and commercial strategy for audio.
Podcasts should become a natural part of our overall offering and be an important part of our reader revenue business in the future. However, the road to that point is a bit winding. Even though we see some interesting experiments with paywalled pods (such as the Podme project by Schibsted in the Nordics), podcasts today are consumed almost exclusively on external platforms such as Spotify, Acast, and Apple Podcasts.
“This means that we must start building a relationship and create a habit with the users on the platforms where they listen today, even if we cannot charge for the content right now,” said Oskar Karlsson, engagement manager for video and podcasts at NTM. “In the long run, the goal is to partially or completely move the pods behind our paywalls. Until then, our editorial podcasts should be seen as a way to build relationships and create habits, and to market our traditional journalism.”
To make sure we get at least some profitability for now — and to support and help editors get the maximum effect out of podcasts — NTM and its in-house marketing agency, Fluid, developed a podcast package for any NTM newsroom interested in starting new podcasts.
“The podcast industry is developing rapidly and in line with that, both listeners and advertisers place higher demands on both packaging and content,” said Andreas Huit, CEO of Fluid. “Since we offer a premium product in both print and digital, it is important that the quality also matches when it comes to podcasts. A professional and uniform expression strengthens the credibility and image of our brands.”
Therefore, NTM has developed a concept where we help newsrooms with all graphic and sound elements as well as coaching for recording technology, format, and content. The pod package also includes a marketing plan and production of campaign materials.
NTM got several podcasts up and running for a couple of years, but the first test using this new concept is a “hockey podcast about shots, hand sweat, and interesting hockey players.” That’s the description of our news brand, Norran’s, latest experiment in sound. The coverage of the local elite hockey team, Skellefteå AIK, is truly engaging the subscribers of Norran. The newsroom recently wanted to take coverage to the next level.
“Podcast is a very good format for broader explanations and more in-depth reasoning,” said Adam Savonen, a reporter at Norran and one of the presenters on the podcast. “It is an exciting medium with the potential to be more than a complement. In the future, we see sound as one of our fundamental journalistic parts.”
It is being distributed everywhere podcasts are available and on the Web site. The podcast, called Islossning (“the ice melt”) is also available in video format on the Web site.
“It is very fun that we have found a concept that offers both audio and video without too much extra work,” said Arvid Marklund, head of sports at Norran. “We hope to find an even larger audience if we can offer different types of platforms. Video also enables more efficient use of outtakes, so that we can make separate news articles of the podcast or use it easier in social media.”
For Norran, the commercial part has also been an important reason for making the podcast available in video format. The episodes are recorded on site at Electrolux Home, the sponsor’s business premises, which is a kitchen shop.
“The reason was to find new ways for our customers to get exposure in a video format, still in our credible context,” said Fanny Lövbom, senior media advisor at Norran. “When choosing a customer, we also wanted to ensure that we had an attractive environment for our own product, which is why the customer Electrolux Home felt like a good alternative. For us as a media company, it feels important to take a position in the market as a player that invests and is at the forefront.”
Taken together, these kinds of internal collaborations are super important to ensure we achieve profitability on our way to making audio a natural and integrated part of our reader revenue business.