Thanks to their narrative element, video vs audio podcast are today among the media types preferred by marketers. The ability to create narratives is an extremely sought-after skill by companies that use it to develop branding strategies through which they can intercept and influence contemporary consumers. 

In an economy based on communication, podcasts and videos share the same destiny and the same transformative power of the collective imagination: They are narrative devices equipped with specific narrative engineering that can make the fictional worlds created by brands authentic, credible, and significant. The title “Podcast vs video” represents a small provocation. In this post, we will try to explain how, within a structured marketing plan, the winning formula is not really one of “podcast or video” but rather one of “podcast and video.” It is in a relationship of dialog that both seem to work best. Here, the two tools are used more effectively if they are conceived as complementary and not alternative

 

Video vs audio podcast: How to choose? 

The podcast, especially in Italy, is a young and evolving format, and it’s not always easy to grasp its distinctive features. To clarify any doubts about what a podcast is, we invite you to read our post, where we provide context and general definition. 

To learn more about the specificity of the video content consumption experience, you can learn more in these post on Video Marketing.  

Here we’ll focus mainly on the similarities and differences between these two expressive media: podcasts and videos. 

 

1. Video vs audio podcast? They are both part of the same media system 

Both podcasts and videos fully reflect the aesthetics of the era in which we live, an era of fiction economy, in which symbols, images, and audio content constitute a direct source of economic value (Fulvio Carmagnola, Il consumo delle immagini: Estetica e beni simbolici nella fiction economy). Put another way, podcasts and videos participate in the same ecosystem of content (textual and visual) that produce actions and meaning at the same time, including economic actions. 

 

2. Audio podcasts can be consumed anywhere, videos can’t 

Because of their format and delivery system, podcasts are incredibly versatile, making them a great option for reaching your target audience wherever they are. The ability to download podcasts (or listen to them online from mobile) and enjoy them whenever and wherever you like (at home, at work, at the gym, in the car, on a road trip) makes them extremely appealing to businesses looking to increase their connection options.  

Video, on the other hand, has also become less and less “demanding.” Streaming platforms are making the process of watching content increasingly fluid and friction-free, with content instantly available, sometimes even without ads. Video does not have that best of both worlds nature that is instead typical of podcasts. For example, you cannot enjoy video in certain mobile situations (while driving to the office, jogging, or walking the dog), nor does it require your exclusive attention and involvement that does not permit you to enjoy other activities simultaneously. 

3. Podcasts have multiple platforms, videos have YouTube 

When it comes to podcasts, the platforms in which to upload content and share it are many and diverse, and they tend to be easy to manage and inexpensive. If one platform doesn’t meet certain needs, you can switch to another relatively easily.  

In the case of video creation and distribution, the situation definitely changes. While there are different video distribution platforms, with its 2 billion users worldwide (Statista, 2019) YouTube remains the dominant service by far. As of December 2019, it was also the preferred social platform for Italians, with 36.2 million users, compared to 35.9 million registered Facebook users. 

4. Podcasts need lighter equipment and less specialized skills (but only in the case of amateur products) 

This point needs a preliminary distinction between amateur podcasts and professional podcasts. Even if the barriers to entry for the production of audio content are quite low, in the case of professionally made podcasts–which aim at creating high quality products–an articulated production structure and specialized skills are still needed (to learn more, read our 10 tips to make a perfect podcast). 

Having said that, professional equipment is actually less indispensable for amateur podcasting (in theory, a laptop and a microphone are enough) than what is required for video production at the same level. Podcasts are also a better choice for those who don’t have experience working with video equipment or who may not feel comfortable in front of a camera. The flexibility, accessibility, and lower business risk offered by an audio-only solution make podcasts affordable for writers and sound engineers who don’t have a traditional journalism or film background. 

 

5. Podcasts manage to keep the audience’s attention and interest for a long time (but there is a return of the long form for videos)  

According to the latest report in Italy by Nielsen for Audible, 6 out of 10 respondents listened to at least one podcast and the average listening time was 25 minutes, two minutes more than in 2019 (Source: brand-news.it). This constitutes a long time during which people choose to focus and get involved. In this sense, the podcast can boast an optimal attention threshold: “Audio is by its nature a very intimate form of communication, and podcasts take this level of intimacy to an even higher level than other types of audio. Unlike other media, many podcasts are targeted at a niche audience.” 

Many companies are learning to exploit this ability to connect with particularly attentive and receptive audiences and are using branded podcasts to achieve a series of commercial objectives. These include improving brand perception, offering a new perspective on institutional messages or product lines, reaching relevant audiences, promoting the listening of sponsored content, opening a channel of communication with potential customers interested in the medium, and creating communities of interested and active consumers. 

In recent times, and in the last year in particular with lockdowns that have made digital more and more central within the consumer journey, users have started again to prefer long form content, also when it comes to video content. Already in 2018, according to a report by Ooyala, a leading video analytics company, long form video consumption had increased across the board, with total smartphone video consumption jumping from 47% the previous year to 54% in Q1 2018 (Source: statista.com). Also in 2018, Instagram launched IGTV, the app that allows the creation and publication of videos that go beyond the 60 seconds allowed up to that point.  

As more and more long-form audio content from podcasts becomes established as a valuable resource in the service of corporate communication, a return of long-form video also seems to be underway. Both objects, in different ways and to different extents, offer brands privileged access to communities of already qualified and mobilized listeners

 

Audio podcast or video: Two proposals for collaboration 

Podcasts and videos are both, if used to the best of their technical and narrative possibilities, strategic assets at the service of the brand. Far from being alternatives or in opposition to each other, they can create interesting synergies, whether they are juxtaposed within a single format, as is the case with video podcasts, or whether they coexist on different axes of content strategy. 

 

1. Video + podcast = video podcast: the visual element to add humanity 

Video vs audio podcast? Video podcast! A video podcast is a podcast with a video element. The video element can be simple or complex, it can consist of a single static image or a video recording of the podcast hosts and guests. Why use a video podcast within a marketing plan? According to castos.com, there are basically four reasons. 

  • People love to look at faces. Human beings are visual creatures. Thirty percent of our brains are involved by what our eyes see. And we especially love faces. Newborns direct their gaze to faces as early as 24 hours after their birth. As we get older, this tendency seems to become even stronger. From facial features, from the emotional nuances communicated through expressions, we get a great deal of information. Adding video content where faces appear (for example, those of the speaker) can help audiences make deeper connections with the story being told. 
  • Video opens up a wider audience. Adding a video element to your podcast can give you access to a broader, more generalist audience. In this case, it’s a matter of honestly defining what communication goals we have: Do we want to broaden the audience of potential customers because we’re interested in expanding into new markets? Or do we prefer to qualify our target vertically, through the construction of a privileged and exclusive relationship? 
  • Video is much more social. Audio clips, when posted on social media, are not as immediately engaging as video. In fact, videos on social media are set to play automatically, but without audio. This is because social media platforms are optimized for video, and not audio, which is turned off by default. Adding video increases engagement for social media users as they find the podcast in their feed. 
  • A good portion of the work is already done. In terms of time and labor, there’s not much difference between creating a podcast and creating a video podcast. It only takes a few extra steps to add a video element, on a budget.

2. Video or podcast? Let’s integrate both in the marketing mix 

Videos and podcasts are part, in the words of Andrea Fontana, of a content continuum made up of hyper-content, “high quality and nutritious arguments,” in which “most of the information circulating is used through narrative formats” (Andrea Fontana, Storie che incantano, pp. 21, 23). Even though they share a common vocation for in-depth analysis, they can be used as items with their own identity and autonomy. Within the content strategy, they perform different communicative functions and are therefore used in the most efficient way in parallel, thus avoiding redundancies or overlapping. 

Video and audio podcast, as we have seen, coexist within the same symbolic universe, that of the brand in the case of brand marketing, and if they are made respecting their respective specificities, they can prove to be perfect narrative devices, able to activate virtuous ways of creating the reputational and communicative value of a person, a product or a brand.

 

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