With the impending death of traditional television, marketers are at a loss. Because so few people sit and watch live TV nowadays, commercials are no longer as powerful as they once were. However, neither are the streaming services that so cunningly forced TV into the position it’s in now. With so many streaming services on the rise, these companies are competing for ways to stand out. In order to keep audiences engaged, streaming services like Disney Plus and Apple TV have resolved to releasing exclusive content on a weekly schedule, similar to shows on traditional TV. The only difference is these streaming services are ad-free. So all of this still leaves marketers wondering, what are new ways to reach audiences? Spotify may have the answer: Gimlet Media.

Spotify Buys Gimlet Media

The Clearing Gimlet Media podcast presented by Spotify
The Clearing Gimlet Media podcast presented by Spotify

In the modern age, while visual media is still the champion of entertainment, there are other forms of content audiences turn to. Audio content, namely podcasts. When they aren’t consuming visual media, people are listening to podcasts at work and on their commute. According to MusicOomph, half the U.S. population listens to podcasts and 32% of them actively listen on a monthly basis. While Spotify has 248 million monthly users, it isn’t satisfied solely sticking to streaming music.

In February 2019, Spotify made waves in the podcast industry by acquiring both Gimlet Media and Anchor. The latter is an app that provides podcasters with the tools to publish and monetize their creations. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek states that, in only a span of two years, Spotify has become the second largest podcast platform after iTunes.

What is Gimlet Media?

Gimlet Media was founded in 2014 by Alex Blumberg and Matthew Lieber. Blumberg previously worked as a producer and reporter for “This American Life” and NPR. After gaining 15 years of experience, he decided to launch Gimlet Media to produce scripted narrative podcasts. What’s incredible is that these podcasts use full sound design and a talented cast to bring these stories to life. The experience is so immersive, you don’t need visuals to get a complete picture. One of Gimlet Media’s biggest hits is Homecoming, which features Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Schwimmer. In 2018 Homecoming was produced into a TV show starring Julia Roberts that premiered on Amazon Prime Video.

Rise of Scripted Podcasts

Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show presented by Apple TV
Jennifer Aniston in The Morning Show presented by Apple TV

Even though Apple TV is giving new Apple customers a free one-year trial, so far it is showing major success with the Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon led drama The Morning Show. Die hard Star Wars fans eagerly awaited the premiere of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus, which releases new episodes every Friday. Even Netflix has begun releasing shows like the Great British Baking Show on a weekly basis.

This begs the question, if streaming services can release weekly scripted content, then why can’t podcasts? Radio has always been a medium that is meant to be consumed by live listeners. It only makes sense for podcasts to follow this format. Essentially, these stories are a modern take on classic radio dramas, like Orson Welles’ notorious production of War of the Worlds. Even back in 1938, creatives utilized the potential of this medium.

On its website, Gimlet Media hosts a wide variety of shows. From true crime to scripted dramas, audiences have turned it into a success, which is what led to the $230M acquisition from Spotify. Podcasts are estimated to bring in $659M by 2020 and now Spotify will be seeing a huge chunk of that number.

Future of Podcasts and Advertising

Man interviewing a woman for a podcast
Man interviewing a woman for a podcast

According to Harvard Business School professor Jeffrey Rayport, most podcast listeners are males 20-30 years old. These listeners consume most of their media on Netflix and Amazon Prime and 65% of them have ad blockers installed. This means they consume a gargantuan amount of media without ever seeing advertisements. Gimlet Media refers to these individuals as “The Unreachables,” and is capitalizing on this opportunity by partnering with advertisers who desperately want to share their products. This is gives Gimlet the chance to rake in money with sponsored podcasts. Because these listeners tune in every week, they have developed bonds with podcast hosts and are more likely to trust the products they endorse.

For advertisers, the message is clear. If you want to reach a wider audience, then it’s time to invest in podcasts. As for scripted podcasts, who knows which one will become the next big hit to grace our screens? Spotify sees the future of podcasts and it has huge plans for the coming years.

What do you think about Spotify taking over the podcast scene? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.