With the proliferation of podcasts in various Indian languages, the perception that audio medium is only for English-speaking and English-speaking subway audiences is changing rapidly.
Increasingly, people in Tier 2 and Tier 3 regions are tapping into podcast platforms to listen to content in their preferred languages. This has provided a huge opportunity for brands as it helps them reach a niche podcast listening audience.
Confirming this trend, Tapas Sen, Director of Content at Entertainment Network India Ltd (Mirchi), said: “? ? Adoption is slow, but you can literally see the change. People now understand that podcasts are great platforms for delivery to the public. For example, if you have a podcast for golf, rowing, or fencing. The number of people playing these sports may not be high, but for brands that want to target these players, where would they find such a concentrated audience? So even though the numbers are small, the conversion rate is skyrocketing for them.
Sen said these podcasts are ultimately audio stories and therefore aren’t just limited to being a metropolitan phenomenon. at???? These stories originated from these level 2, level 3 cities. Now people are able to identify these interesting stories on the podcast platform. So there is still a lot of work to be done to make the connection between stories and podcasts. It’s already started to happen, but as more and more people realize it, they’ll know it’s something anyone can relate to, he said.
Amit Doshi, founder of Indus Vox Media (IVM) Podcasts, agrees there has been an increase in the number of people listening to content in other languages, but says audiences are still concentrated in urban areas.
“Four cities” Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad represent a fairly large share of the global audience. There are probably 75 other cities in India with over 1000 downloads per month. This means that small towns consume content as well, but that doesn’t compare to the consumption that occurs in large metropolitan cities. So while a fairly large number of the population listens to podcasts, it is almost entirely in India’s top 100 cities. It’s hard to know it’s spread beyond that, but I think most listeners right now are urban. No matter how small the city is, if it’s an urban metropolitan area, there will be podcast listeners. he said.
While this offers them a vast opportunity for growth, Doshi feels that the perception of the podcast as a product of the English metro persists, making it difficult for these platforms to buy in from brands. “When they look at the numbers, they see that 50% of the public is from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Brands that target the rural market stop there. One of the challenges with podcasting is that location-based advertising delivery is a bit difficult to do at this point in the current ecosystem, he said.
Sreeraman Thiagarajan, CEO of Aawaz.com, also said Indian language podcasts are resuming on their platform. They have podcasts in multiple languages such as English, Hindi, Urdu, and Marathi. However, English only forms 20% of their content. Their main markets are also in Lucknow, Indore, Jaipur and Patna.
At a panel discussion at PubVision, a gathering of digital publishing companies organized by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Shiven Khanna, national head of digital ad sales, India Today, spoke stated that some of their Hindi podcasts on Aaj Tak Radio are the most popular news podcast trend on Apple and are looking to expand into other languages as well.
“We saw a big gap in the podcast market because most of the time everyone saw podcasts as being city-centric or leaning towards an English speaking audience. With Aaj Tak Radio, we have created a whole new audience. Today when I talk to marketers, Tier 2 cities are in the top 5 while major metropolitan cities are not. It’s penetration and by going local we’ve added a new audience for podcasts, ”???? He said.
According to Rajeesh Rajagopalan, National Business Head, Grapes Digital, brands are still a little hesitant to invest their money in regional podcasts. at???? Podcasts are very new. In addition, there is no measurement system. It is therefore difficult to know the range. And while they have the numbers, they’re not big enough for the brands. It’s really very niche for brands. And podcasts are also trying to figure out how to monetize it. So brands don’t go all the way with podcasts, ????? he said.
Previously, there was a dearth of Indian language content in podcasts, and this lack of supply naturally led to a lack of demand among audiences. As podcasts were only available in English, they remained inaccessible to a large population. Now, on all platforms, podcasts are available in many languages other than English. Growth has been fueled by the penetration of the Internet beyond cities and the availability of high-speed data at nominal prices.
Mirchi has a Bengali podcast and they plan to expand to all the languages they broadcast in. “There is huge potential here. There is a dearth of good content and good podcasts that represent local ethics, culture, literature, stories, sensibilities, â ?? Sen said.
What works in favor of regional podcasts is that the language does not become a barrier. “There are a lot of people who can’t read the language, but they can understand it. That’s the power of audio. Unlike the written word, in audio more people can follow it. Sen said.
He said podcasts work very well for Indian audiences. “India is an emotional country and she loves her stories. And so any format that tells stories is popular. People are gradually discovering that it is also a way of telling stories. Although podcast is a technical word, it includes a lot more. Even audiobooks are podcasts. Thanks to these podcasts, they can now access stories that they couldn’t before. This is why it is no longer limited to the English public, â ???? he said.
Regardless of geography, podcast listeners have some common characteristics. They turn out to be better off than the general population. Speaking to the IVM audience, Doshi said, “Among the people listening to us, 85% have income above Rs 5 lakh per year, 50% have income above Rs 12 lakh per year and 29.8%. have income above Rs 25 lakh.â ????
Sen said the way Gen Y and Gen Z, the biggest podcast consumers, approach podcasts are completely different. at???? Millennials approach him for information disbursement. On the flip side, the Gen Z podcast is all about self-expression, â € “ he said.
He said the podcast is a “long tail celebration” ????. “Podcasts offer select audiences very high conversion rates. Brands have figured out that podcasts need to have different metrics for measurement. Basically it is for all things that are not mass. The numbers are very small, but it doesn’t matter. There will be brands that take an interest in it because they may like the socio-economic category they come from, ”???? he said.
This niche audience provides a great opportunity for brands to collaborate. “For brands, it is extremely useful to chat with affluent people living in non-metro markets. In small towns, too, there is a grouping effect when it comes to purchasing. So if the most prominent person in this city buys a particular type of car, it becomes extraordinarily ambitious for others. Podcast advertising has incredible memorability levels compared to any other medium. The podcast has 60% spontaneous recall and 90% assisted recall, compared to 10% and 18% on digital video for advertising recall. All of this put in place is really beneficial for a brand to target regional language content, ????? Doshi said.
But Doshi warned that the medium isn’t for everyone. at???? This is not the way to sell sachets of detergents or shampoo. This is the medium for people looking to sell high value items but in small towns and possibly even in towns and villages, â € “ he said.
Thiagarajan said brands can reach more people through regional language podcasts. â ???? Watch Sun TV. Although it is a regional chain, their income is much higher than that of the major English dailies. The range is much higher with them, ????? he added.