Another important reason for the popularity of podcasts in the Middle East is because they have grown in sophistication and maturity. Podcasts have created a safe space for creators and listeners to address sensitive topics, stereotypes, taboos, and issues that might otherwise remain nascent. For example, there’s a podcast called ‘Eib’, which translates to something that is socially not accepted and frowned upon, that tells stories of how gender roles and social pressure are affecting people’s lives in the Middle East.
The narratives and stories shared on Middle East podcasts have become niche and cater to the interests of Arab listeners – unfiltered and genuine voices that listeners relate to. The democratization of the medium has allowed podcasts to become the go to arena where creatives and individuals share their opinions openly without many restrictions
On the financial side, according to a recent study, ‘the growth in digital recorded music and podcast revenues was expected to increase from 0.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region post the COVID-19 lockdown measures, to reach 0.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.’
Also, the same study says that podcast advertising revenues in 2024 will comprise seven percent of the total amount, while the remaining 93 percent will come from digital recorded music. Podcast advertising is expected to grow at a cumulative annual growth rate of 24.4 percent during that period.
These trends really speak volumes about the potential that podcasts and audio marketing hold. Nowadays, digital audio marketing offers an unprecedented opportunity to viscerally send your message to an attentive audience.
Conversations that mention ‘podcast’ or ‘بودكاست’ in the Middle East during the past 13 months amassed 497.7K results. Talkwalker’s peak-detection feature allows you to pinpoint key moments that are driving engagement around a certain topic.
What is audio marketing?
Audio marketing is the act of communicating or conveying a message through an audible medium. The purpose of this sensory engagement could either be to sell something, convince the listeners to do something, educate, or even remind them of a particular brand. Audio marketing is nothing new per se, it has been around since the invention of the radio. If you think about it, reading the news is a form of audio marketing where the message could be to reassure the public about the current state of the economy.
So the concept hasn’t changed much over the years, you have someone behind a microphone reading a carefully crafted script to an attentive audience. Technology has obviously developed and made the medium more accessible to the masses.
The key addition to today’s audio marketing is data. It is the ability for marketers to know how, when, and where consumers are listening. Marketers now are able to create audio content that resonates with the listeners’ interests and creates brand awareness.
Like its visually-driven counterpart, audio marketing has the same elements that enable it to play a key role in businesses’ marketing strategies. Podcasts can act as a lead generation tool if they’re accompanied by a newsletter subscription form. On the front of brand marketing, audio logos are becoming increasingly popular in creating subconscious brand awareness among consumers. An audio logo is a jingle that accompanies your brand’s tagline and is used to infer openness and reflect your culture.
Saudi Telecom Company (STC) shows how audio could play a critical role in reflecting its brand’s cultural relevance. Also, the jingle at the end is used at multiple customer touch points.
Lastly, audio product marketing is basically when a brand goes on a live broadcast to showcase its latest product innovations and take answers from listeners.
All in all, audio marketing could happen through audiobooks, podcasts, audio versions of blog posts, and smart speakers.
Why is audio marketing important?
With a large proportion of Middle East households owning at least one smart speaker, audio ads could help marketers reach consumers when they’re listening to ad-supported premium content throughout their day. According to the latest data (2019), there were 1.3M podcast listeners in the UAE alone, and that number was only expected to increase.
Another reason why marketers should pay attention to audio marketing is because, on average, podcast listeners have a higher purchasing power than non-listeners. In practical terms, audio marketing could accelerate marketers’ achievement of their goals by acting in synergy with already existing efforts like video marketing and account-based marketing.
The reasons why audio marketing has become a crucial part of the marketing mix are because:
- It has a wide reach across the spectrum of consumers – while also remaining targeted and relevant to their tastes
- They’re relatively cheaper to produce and distribute when compared to other mediums
- Audio consumers are paying attention (buying)
- Audio could be interactive, especially with the popularity of smart speakers that enables consumers to make purchases without lifting a finger
However, for brands to truly benefit from audio marketing, they must leverage an AI-powered podcast monitoring tool that enables them to extract insights from audio, in real time.
How audio social listening works
Imagine if a famous podcaster like Joe Rogan casually mentions your brand in one of his shows - you would want to know that right? Though if you weren’t subscribed to his show or perhaps were distracted by something while he was speaking, then there’s a very high chance that you missed out on an opportunity.
The old way of monitoring audio marketing channels is that you’d have someone listen to the radio or podcast and manually identify a brand mention. This way surely works, though it’s time-consuming, inefficient, not scalable, and boring.
Talkwalker’s bespoke podcast monitoring solution is helping thousands of marketers around the world reveal hidden brand mentions in audio content.
Nowadays things have become automated with the help of artificial intelligence, which enables marketers to instantly pick up any brand mentions on podcasts, and do so at scale. Through the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP), algorithms can identify the soundwave of when a brand or any keyword is mentioned.
What happens is that speech (audio) is translated into text, which is then analyzed for sentiment and recurrence. The tool gives you the exact time code of when your brand was mentioned, in addition to reliable sentiment analysis that overcomes language issues like idioms, sarcasm, humor, and metaphors.
Screenshot of Talkwalker’s podcast monitoring solution in action. Here we are looking at a Bloomberg podcast called ‘The Tape’ which was discussing the stock price of U.S. telecom Verizon.
Why audio social listening is crucial for marketers
Podcast monitoring adds another layer to a marketer’s data stack. Audio marketing data helps marketers better allocate budgets to podcasts with more potential customers. Furthermore, audio social listening helps marketers:
- Find hidden mentions of their brand that could potentially be discussed in the news – for example: a company stock price is fluctuating and the marketer wants to know the sentiment around that to know what type of messaging to put out on social media
- Identify key influencers talking about topics relevant to your brand
- Measure the impact of audio campaigns and optimize accordingly
Should your brand invest in having a podcast?
It depends. Creating a podcast is a long-term investment that gives your brand the opportunity to voice its opinion loudly and effectively. A branded podcast is a double-edged sword, on the one hand it acts as a great way to reflect your culture and what you stand for, and on the other it poses a potential risk of tarnishing your brand image.
Just because everyone else is doing it is not enough for you to start one. Marketers working at brands must understand how a podcast feeds into their overall business goals. Answering some of the below questions could help first-time marketers and brand managers decide on whether to start a podcast or not:
- What story do we want to tell?
- How will this podcast make the life of our audience/consumers better?
- What’s our ‘so what’?
If the answer to any of these questions remains vague, then it’s probably better to go back to the drawing board and clearly understand the objectives and expectations. Create value rather than adding to the noise.
Middle East top podcasts
Here are some of the Middle East-focused podcasts that I believe you would enjoy listening to. The topics they discuss are diverse and rich in cultural relevance. It’s essentially Middle Eastern voices telling the region’s stories for the region’s listeners. Some are podcast networks, a company that creates bespoke podcasts on different topics, and the rest are standalone podcasts.
- Thmanya (network)
- Mohtwize (network)
- Finyal media (network)
- Mics (network)
- Kerning Cultures (network)
- Amaeya Media Network (network)
- Mstdfr (network)
- The Mayman Show (podcast) by Arab News
- Raseef22 (podcast)
- The Dukkan Show (podcast)
- Al Mar’a Al Ra’ida (podcast)
- Wamda podcasts (podcast)
- House Zofi (podcast)
- When Women Win (podcast)
- Let’s Take This Online (podcast)
- Dubai Eye 103.8 (podcast)
- The National Podcasts (network) Trending Middle East
- The Gateway podcasts (podcast)
- Tawazon podcast (podcast)
- Sarwa Talks (podcast)
In fact, you can download a full list of Middle East podcasts here as an Excel sheet.
Podcast marketing is obviously not a pandemic-led fad. It is here to stay. Marketers have a solid opportunity to increase their brand’s reach and engage consumers organically. The nature of the medium allows for unprecedented flexibility and creativity, so how will you leverage it to leave a mark in consumers’ hearts and minds?
I hope this blog helps you add some cool podcasts to your list, and understand a region that has long been misrepresented in the media. ‘Audios’ for now.