Podcasts See Widespread Adoption Across APAC

Audiences are increasingly building podcasts into their routines, and advertisers are following with an estimated 22% increase in global CAGR by 2024, per data from PwC.
The acceleration of technology over the past year has created a massive ripple effect, permanently shifting consumer lifestyles, expectations, and behaviors to a future-ready state. In response, UM APAC created the Asia-Pacific Innovation Annual – taking a deep dive into the cutting-edge advancements in entertainment, commerce, digital health, and connectivity, that are catapulting the region and providing new opportunities for brands.

Podcasts have quickly become one of the most malleable channels in the world, with content ranging from global news updates (BBC News), the controversial (Joe Rogan smoking marijuana with Elon Musk), down to niche content (Stuff You Should Know). Audiences are increasingly building podcasts into their routines, and advertisers are following with an estimated 22% increase in global CAGR by 2024, per data from PwC.

Although on par with the global average overall, podcasts are at differing levels of maturity across various APAC markets.

China is the second-largest podcast market in the world by volume after the U.S. The medium is growing fast, driven by on-demand availability; 6,000 new podcasts emerged between April and November 2020, according to a Singpod report.

 
 

Unlike most markets, China’s podcast market leans towards the subscription model, and often focuses on educational and informational content for personal development and career progression. It is no coincidence that almost 20% of the podcast listeners in China work in the tech industry.

The world’s third-largest podcast market is in India, which is expected to experience a CAGR of 34.5% through 2023. Anchor, Spotify’s podcast distribution platform, added more than 25,000 Indian podcasts in 2020 alone. Indian Vox Media states that in 2015, most podcasts were in English; however, local creators have joined, and local-language podcasts are now climbing the charts.

The Australian podcast market is maturing, with more than one-third of Australians now tuning in. The power of podcasts was demonstrated when a true crime podcast, The Teacher’s Pet, renewed interest in a missing persons cold case, leading to new witness statements and eventually an arrest 36 years later.

 
 

Evidently, the only thing that the various APAC markets have in common is a shared sense of geography, but this high degree of diversity within the region also makes podcasts the perfect media format — as a highly distributed and customizable medium, podcasting flourishes when local creators start producing content highly relevant for their audiences.

Indonesia presents a particularly interesting case. Three years ago, podcasts were virtually non-existent in that market. Today, however, 31% of Indonesians are weekly listeners, which is 12 percentage points ahead of the global average, per data from a 2021 GWI study, driven by local radio hosts and comedians bringing their fans to the category. Who would have thought that local horror stories would become the most popular and broadest content genre in Indonesia? This speaks to podcast’s grassroots capacity for niche content creators to find their audiences.

Audiences are increasingly building podcasts into their routines, and advertisers are following with an estimated 22% increase in global CAGR by 2024.

The strength of the medium lies in the minimal barriers to entry: Podcasts are often low-cost to produce, and fast and easy to create. Platforms like Anchor — a record and upload distribution platform — are democratizing creation.

If marketers have learned anything from TikTok, it’s that APAC consumers crave authentic content. Podcasts are offering that. Listening to a podcast is like being part of an intimate conversation. Consumers in Southeast Asia are increasingly starting to consume podcasts on YouTube, reflecting the importance of the connection to personalities — Deddy Corbuzier, an Indonesian TV presenter has 15.7M subscribers to his YouTube podcast channel.

Podcast ads are often read by the hosts and, similar to social media influencers, use the integrity of the personality to sell products.

According to Spotify, 41% of podcast listeners in India trust podcast ads more than audio ads delivered via traditional channels, and 81% say they have taken action after hearing an ad. In response to the explosion of growth seen in the Philippines, Podcast Network Asia (PNA) has recently launched Podmetrics, a platform that allows podcasters to monetize shows through affiliate marketing, brand campaigns, and shoutouts. Podmetrics has partnerships with brands including Lazada, Shopee, and Zalora to stage mutually beneficial marketing between podcasters and brands.

However, consumption is becoming more fragmented as the category expands and audio platforms fight for exclusive rights. Aggregates are investing in local podcast originals that feature exclusively on their platform to attract audiences. Spotify signed almost 20 exclusive deals with Indonesian podcasters in 2020.

On this end of the spectrum, programmatic offerings are emerging, with DSPs like TheTradeDesk enabling advertisers to target demographics and contexts similar to digital offerings. In the race to measurement, Spotify has recently launched Streaming Audio Insertion (SAI), providing accurate measurement and audience insights that media agencies and advertisers depend upon.

China is the second-largest podcast market in the world by volume after the U.S. The medium is growing fast, driven by on-demand availability; 6,000 new podcasts emerged between April and November 2020.

Podcasts are reinventing the audio world. As advertisers scramble to justify their spend, the focus is shifting to media metrics and the ability to scale audiences. At the same time, marketers must consider whether podcasts are the right platform for a mass scale message. This is a situation where the push for reach and frequency, along with completion rates, could threaten the notion of authentic marketing.

Building upon the success of APAC influencers, the podcast market is feeding on meaningful connections with personalities. A convergence of emerging platforms are creating a new age of authentic marketing in the APAC region. Podcasts create remarkable opportunities for brands that want to connect with engaged listeners. Marketers must continue to prioritize authenticity to drive better quality relationships, invest in both relevance and audience reach, and leverage engagement to open new opportunities beyond buying frequency.

Podcasts began as a global top-down content offering, though in APAC, have transformed to become inherently bottom-up. Hyperlocal channels and content thrive in APAC and podcasters will continue to localize the format.


This is the fourth in a six-part series

  1. Retail Transformation – The Future of Retail in APAC
  2. Digital Health – APAC is Paving the Way for Digital Health Ecosystems
  3. Augmented Reality: Renewed Optimism for AR Across the Asia-Pacific
  4. Podcasts See Widespread Adoption Across APAC
  5. 5G is Driving the Digital Transformation in China
  6. Wearables Unlock IoT Potential for APAC Consumers

Grace Espinoza

Grace Espinoza

Grace is Regional Strategy Director, UM APAC.

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