The Video Podcast: A Revolutionary Media

By Maria Almenar, Fashion Journalist and Podcast Host for Brands

If history teaches us anything, it is that it repeats itself, whether in long periods or increasingly brief and fleeting cycles. Many phenomena of the past are experienced in adapted forms in modern times, producing that common feeling of déjà vu, thinking: “I’ve lived through this before, in different times and circumstances.”

The Buggles immortalized a pop culture hit in 1979: ‘Video Killed the Radio Star. This milestone of their fleeting career also coincided with another achievement: it was the first song to launch the MTV phenomenon two years later, keeping teenagers of the 80s and 90s glued to their televisions with music videos. Technology was changing the world. Video players had come to dominate, replacing sound as the primary medium. Radio was part of the past; video represented the future. Modernity.

A Revolution That Is Heard

This dynamic is repeating itself today with the advent of the podcast, considered the communication medium of the 21st century. It was born two decades ago when journalist Ben Hammersley first coined the term in the prestigious newspaper The Guardian to define the habit of consuming digital audio content on demand.

Now in its maturity, the podcast industry has evolved, with the United States market being its natural and predominant habitat globally, boasting millions of users and increasingly younger audiences hooked on this listening revolution that breaks away from the static formulas and narrative formats of conventional radio. The latest data from Edison Research’s “The Podcast Consumer 2024” report confirms this.

In Europe, Spain leads in podcast consumption with a high rate of listeners leaning towards this audio format. According to the 2023 Annual Digital Audio Study by IAB Spain, podcast consumption has grown significantly, with 54% of internet users regularly listening to podcasts, representing a 10-point increase from the previous year.

And Now, It’s Also Watched

Since 2020, the podcast has accelerated its transformation process, driven by the latest trends in online video, more experimental narratives, and the demands of digital natives. Thus emerged the audio that is also consumed through the eyes: the video podcast or vodcast, as it’s now often abbreviated. History repeats itself, but with nuances and variations.

The video podcast is not merely the younger sibling of the podcast. We could say it is a new adaptation. Or, following advertising jargon, the best version of itself now that pushing boundaries is in vogue. This time, digital audio and video coexist in this innovative format. They can take separate paths, capitalizing on the strengths of each distribution platform that influences listening or viewing. Neither one devours the other. They complement each other, creating powerful synergies that attract new waves of listeners through the mighty YouTube (video) or Spotify (audio) as the most popular platforms consumed especially among young people. In recent years, video podcasts have been gaining presence and weight in audiovisual platforms and large distributors of digital content. And something very representative of this new medium, although there are several consumer profiles, can broadly verify an evident fact: the video podcast has particularly seduced Gen Z. And why, you may ask?

The new generation of young people has found in this medium a flexible format of diverse content that can be as trivial and light, intended for mere entertainment, as specialized in a subject to conquer the most restless minds. It is also an easy medium to produce, consume, and disseminate, apparently spontaneous, that speaks to them directly, and in many cases represents them by showing without taboos some of their tastes, interests, and needs. Advantages that, by the way, mainstream media have been unable to achieve even remotely.

At this point, I invite you to a reflection. Close your eyes and visualize the young people around you. How many people under 30 do you know who get informed through mainstream press, listen to radio programs regularly, or entertain themselves with television? If you know any, congratulations! You have discovered the exception.

The video podcast also opens the door to conversation, to the incorporation of experiments by all kinds of content creators, consolidates an active audience that, in turn, can participate and interact with the format and something even more interesting, creates community. And we already know that, in a world of isolated individuals consuming personalized products and services, everything that creates bonds and bridges of dialogue between several people is worth gold.

A sirens’ song for brands

Given such virtues, brands have seen in the video podcast a source of wealth. We are talking about branded podcasts. A means of communication to humanize the brand, whether internally or externally, and an indispensable strategic tool to fulfill other objectives such as retaining their audience, expanding new audiences, nurturing networks with genuine content, or conveying and disseminating related values in an enjoyable and entertaining way, among others.

Furthermore, each format offers different monetization possibilities ranging from product placement actions to video advertising or sponsorship.

In any case, the podcast and video podcast industry continues to revolutionize the digital landscape with a horizon full of opportunities. According to the report “Top Digital Trends 2024” prepared by IAB Spain, the association of advertising, marketing, and digital communication in Spain, “the podcast will continue its expansion in 2024, but towards a growing focus on specialization and the creation of communities, where the listener will connect through real-time surveys or questions to be answered during listening.”

This is just the beginning.