Podcasts cue up an interactive future
The Future. Your favorite podcasts may soon debut interactive tools that let you connect with creators and advertisers to shape your listening experience. If their adoption takes off, podcasting may provide a more thoughtful, curated, and prepared social audio experience that provides an alternative to the off-the-cuff thrills of a Clubhouse room or Twitter Space.
Podcasts would like to have more of a conversation.
- Podcast platforms such as Spotify, Facebook, and soon Amazon are rolling out interactive tools that allow creators to hear from their listeners directly.
- Tools include polls, Q&As, commenting, and interactive ads.
- Podcasting apps in China, like Ximalaya and Lizhi, allow audiences to form “listening circles” or “discussion groups” to make podcasts more communal.
These tools are already starting to have an influence… the hosts of the podcast Beyond the Screenplay used the Spotify polling tool to confirm if listeners wanted them to break down Back to the Future next, but they chose The Godfather. It seems like the audience was happy to engage.
The interactive tools are the podcasting industry’s way of capitalizing on the live social audio hype, recently popularized by the likes of Clubhouse, Discord, and Twitter. Currently, podcasting is “static,” which goes against the tech holy grail of “community and conversation” that users have gotten used to through the likes, retweets, and emoji reactions of social platforms.
But podcasting, which is set to become a billion-dollar industry by the end of this year, also has the distinction of allowing hosts to go deeper, having a higher production value, and possibly inviting experimentation more so than active forms of audio content.
For example, podcast analytics and advertising platform Backtracks has developed a way to connect to a listener’s AirPods, allowing them to answer questions with a head gesture. The opportunities for storytelling and advertising are endless.