Business at an Ear Distance

Which are the “white swallows” of Bulgarian podcasts

Business at an Ear Distance

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764 ~ 5 мин. четене
Автор: Maya Tsaneva

Bulgarian podcasts try to find balance between quality content, advertising opportunities and donations. There is a niche for business podcasts targeting the main target group of this media in general – serious, busy, economically active people who optimize their time.

I recently spoke with a friend who said he had forever replaced the TV with an audio library with books for entertainment, business, lectures, and even an archive of favourite series for “your ears”. His passion is podcasts that “meet” him with interesting people more successfully than personal or business communication.

The podcast is a recorded conversation shared online, or a “digital audio file available on the Internet for download”. The most popular genres of podcasts are society and culture, news and politics, business and comedy, health. According to Edison Research Infinite Dial 2018 from March 2018, there are 550,000 podcasts with 18, 5 million episodes on the Apple platform. Their total number on all platforms is about 660,000. According to Nielsen data from 2018, 44% of Americans listen to online shows. 68% of them have college or higher education.

"Media consumption has changed dramatically, both because of technology and the needs of people. The use of mobile devices as a first or single screen combined with the search for new forms of content, challenges the myth of how shortly we can focus our attention. Podcasts are still in an early stage of development but are yet to have an impact on marketing,” says Tom Webster from the Edison Marketing Research agency.

I have gathered together three of the most popular Bulgarian podcasters who are trying to or know how to balance the quality content with the achievement of business goals in the media they support. 

“The Internet Speaks” has the longest history of the three media. Elenko Elenkov and Vladimir Petkov describe themselves as “technologists and media-maniacs”. They started their first podcast in 2017. In 2018, they co-produced another project – “Transistor”, and this year, they plan on doing two more thematic projects. They develop the media through personal investment and donations of more than 100 people in the Patreon platform. “The Internet Speaks” has 2-3 advertising blocks of 1 minute in a podcast of 2 hours.

Elenko Elenkov and Vladimir Petkov - Photo: Yana Lozeva

“The Superhuman with Georgi Nenov” has been in existence for about two years with the purpose of “showing that there are “white swallows” – people who do the things they love and are successful in,” says Georgi. He has 123 episodes and over 1,000 followers. At the end of last year, he launched a campaign in the Patreon platform and attracted the first 50 donations. The podcast has partnerships for price reduction of the books that the interlocutors recommend in the conversation.

“We are Silvina, Heliana, Goritsa and I, Justine. We launched the podcast “The Creators – the Digital Optimists of Bulgaria” to tell about successful people and projects in the world of online industries. Our goal is to encourage digital entrepreneurship,“ Justine says. The project is not for commercial purposes and includes a site, blog, social network profiles, and plans for a book.

Justine Toms - Photo: Sibel Veysanova

“The podcast is an ever-increasing advertising channel through which brands are looking for listeners’ attention. Unlike web advertising, the ads in podcasts are “natural”. They are read by the authors of the content, and the listeners are inclined to listen to them with all their attention. An example of the fact that there is business in podcasts is that the Spotify streaming platform bought the Gimlet podcast network for USD 500 million,” says Elenko Elenkov from “The Internet Speaks”.

Georgi adds more to the advantages of this kind of media: “The most significant advantage of podcasts over mass media is the ability to choose whether or not you want to listen to a specific episode, a guest, or a moment of this show. There are no censors in the podcasts; there are brands, ads, etc. Of course, this can also be used with bad intentions. It is good to be aware of this – both as listeners and as creators.”

But “in most Bulgarian podcasts there are no ads”, Justine adds. The monetarisation of projects comes mostly from donations, because it allows the media to focus mostly on the content. “There are many people who are looking for interesting and quality content in new forms because they no longer trust the traditional ones or are tired of them,” she explains.

Georgi Nenov - Photo: Gogo Kehayov

Georgi Nenov adds that there is business in everything that has a dedicated audience. According to him, podcasts and video content are the future. “The question is whether you can create a business model that works. “Followers = Business,” he says. 

According to Justine, there is a niche for business podcasts in Bulgarian, aimed at the main target group of the media in general – serious, busy, economically active people who optimize their time. “We are being listened by nearly 2,000 people a week with a high social profile. We have not invested in sales, business partners find us themselves,” Elenko adds. Technological and innovative companies are the first to turn to “The Internet Speaks” to develop their employer’s brand. “If a podcast for a particular business is made, it should target the most central audience. Imagine it as a radio broadcast of a company. The idea is to explain how the business works, to invite business partners as guests, etc. Every business can benefit if it is interested in a niche, educated audience,” he explains.

Elenko adds that quality content is a guarantee for the success of the podcast, the blog, the vlog, and the newsletter. Georgi confirms this: “As a listener of podcasts, I can say that only advertising that contextually matches the content is valuable to me. No good-enough ad has appeared so far, in order for me to “sell” a spot for it.” He works on a business model that can ensure sustainable development and growth of his project, but “the most important thing” remains to broadcast a new episode every week.

At the end of the conversation, I asked the three of them to “secretly whisper” to me what they are listening to right now. The list turned out to be longer and more interesting than the 24 hours of the day allow. Is it possible that the podcast will “kill” online sharing...

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