The Podcast Show 2024 – so many podcasts, so little time

I recently visited the Podcast Show in Islington – an exhausting couple of days, during which, frankly, an awful lot of twaddle was spoken about the podcasting industry. The consensus among the visitors was loud and clear: podcasting is the fastest-growing digital media. No surprise there, and you would expect nothing less from an aircraft hanger-sized room full of over 10,000 podcasting professionals. But is faster really better?

Generally, the assembled pod-glitterati seemed a lot more interested in raking in the cash, saving time, and speeding up production then they were in creating fresh, original, quality content. A.I. was the hot topic of the week. There were so many exhibitors banging on about how much easier it will  make the lives of podcasters. Why edit your show manually when you can get an algorhythm to do it for you in a 10th of the time? And who cares how those junctions sound anyway? Looks like multi-skilling is rapidly becoming nil-skilling

Perhaps if podcasts were as tricky to produce as they once used to be, and required a little more expertise and experience to deliver, there’d be a lot less poorly produced dross out there cluttering up the industry and making it almost impossible for the quality content to cut through.

But I digress. Back to the Podcast Show. In the midst of a virtual tsunami of creative laziness and lack of real comittment to the actual craft of audio production, there were thankfully one or two valuable takeaways which justifiled the eye-watering ticket price.

Multicultural content was high on the agenda. In a panel with BIPOC Podcast Creators, Justine Benjamin underscored the importance of year-round content alignment that resonates with audiences of colour. Good call.

On the subject of advertising, Rowan Hamill’s panel explored why many brands pivoted to podcasts post-COVID: authenticity and a more engaged listenership being cited as the driving factors. Lindsay Lynch highlighted the crucial role of “anti-keyword targeting” and partnerships with entities like Newsguard to guarantee ad placements on reputable, brand-safe content.

Host-read ads are apparently surging bigtime. The charm of your favourite podcaster reading out copy “as live” being an undeniable trend.

“Trial and error” remains vital according to Kat Bean, who advocated for clients to diversify their media strategies, taking calculated risks to tap into the unique engagement offered by podcasts.

It seems there’s a podcasting renaissance in Africa. Kevin Y. Brown’s session on the podcast landscape unveiled a cultural mosaic where storytelling in native languages propels growth, with monetization avenues like live shows gaining traction. “Education is key to unlocking Africa’s podcast potential” said Kevin. By promoting “native narrative”, creators can drive an exponential rise in podcast consumption across the continent.

Simplecast announced that it has joined the AdsWizz family, which it claims “marks an exhilarating new chapter for the podcasting industry”. With enhanced monetization tools, they say they are poised to “champion creators of all calibers”, propelling podcasting into an ever-brighter future.

Ok, so if there’s one thing I gleaned from this expensive outing it was that the podcasting cosmos isn’t just expanding—it’s exploding. More podcasts than ever before. More podcasts than there are stars in the sky. More podcasts than there are grains of sand on the beach. And that’s great, right? Right?