Podcast industry is growing but not being able to monetise effectively, says Amit Doshi of IVM Podcast

In an interaction with BuzzInContent.com, Doshi says it would be foolish to assume that the industry's ad revenues have not been impacted due to Covid-19

Akanksha Nagar
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Amit Doshi

Stuck at home amid the lockdown, people are also turning to podcasts to engage and entertain themselves. As digital consumption soars, podcast listenership is also witnessing a standard growth. But the challenge for the industry still remains the same — how to effectively monetise consumption.

“Listenership of the whole industry is increasing every year. I don't think there's any question about that. We are seeing tripling numbers every year in terms of the number of people listening. But the challenge is that we have not been able to monetise effectively, whether that is through brand participation, listeners’ participation, subscriptions, licensing, or whatever others models that can be explored,” Amit Doshi, Founder and CEO of Indus Vox Media (IVM) Podcast, said in an interaction with BuzzInContent.com.  

He said the industry in itself is in a nascent space, making it difficult for it to get large brands to work with, in an extensive way.

“Podcast is digital, yes, but it's also not digital in the truest sense of the world in terms of what kind of expectations people have from a digital platform,” he added.

The platform in the past has worked with brands such as Intel, Storytel, Accenture, Motilal Oswal, Aditya Birla Mutual Fund, PayTM Money and is always on the lookout for branded content opportunities. 

With the pandemic, he said there's definitely been increased activity in terms of the amount of brands that are interested in reaching out to create branded content.

As the overall advertising industry suffers great losses due to the outbreak, impacting ad revenue for each of the segments, there are early signs media will take a huge blow.

Talking on behalf of the podcast industry Doshi said, “It'd be foolish to think that we'd not be impacted by something that has affected everybody else. But the amount of money going into the podcast industry is so small and at the same time it is not necessarily going to have such a large impact. OTTs or television are large industries with literally thousands of deals happening in a day.”

The company, which is both a content creation and a distribution hub, has been facing financial issues with the pandemic, he said.

Over the years, the podcast industry has witnessed the growth of multiple players, including IVM Podcasts, awaaz.com, Spotify, Amazon, Google.

As these platforms are looking to keep their listeners entertained and informed during the lockdown, Doshi said IVM has witnessed the same kind of standard increase that it sees every month, 10 to 15%, in the lockdown.

“We are not witnessing anything beyond the 15% increase. We are seeing just a steady kind of growth,” he said.

He explained that during the lockdown, there has been a slight dip in most of the markets as earlier podcasts were largely consumed during workout, commute and chores.

As commute and workouts are kind more or less gone now at this point in time, it's only chores that remain.

“Now, we all have to do more chores as we did earlier, so there could be a flip in that direction. But at the same time, we have kind of lost some of those times when people do listen to podcasts. However, the overall numbers have not dropped,” he said.

Talking about the overall trends during the pandemic, Doshi said that for IVM, content is now being consumed throughout the day. Earlier it was being downloaded in the mornings and in evenings during commute time.

Other than this, a 40-30% drop of traffic on Saturdays and Sundays is now down to 15-18% over the last month as people also increasingly consuming podcasts on desktops as well.

Asked if the desktop has a future in this industry, Doshi said once people are out of the lockdown, majority listening is going to happen on mobile phones only.

In the burgeoning digital audio industry, podcasts have been proven to be a key differentiator. The pandemic, he feels, has presented listeners an opportunity to try different platforms in the space.

IVM Podcast is maintaining its existing schedules while talking about Covid quite extensively via different programmes.

It might be often believed that a particular genre of a podcast or content with a certain length might be suitable for attracting more listeners.

Dismissing this belief, Doshi said, “It doesn't really matter. Length is not a determining factor for the success of any podcast. Genre matters but the thing that matters the most is regularity. And the situation we are in India right now, we have not even identified two to five per cent of the potential podcast audiences. So sticking with a genre seems a little short-sighted. The more you experiment in the genre, the more listeners you will attract.”

Amit Doshi IVM Podcast