The last mass medium finally emerges

“As streaming on-demand content grows, we’ll see the rise of audio discovery outside of a dedicated app, and integrated into the ways we already share content on social streams, the open web, and on mobile.”

I can’t wait for 2016 — the year that podcasting fully matures into the disruptive mass medium it was always meant to be. The foundation for disruption exists: a wildly exploding diversity of voices, format, listening experiences, and routes to monetization.

caitlin-thompsonYou’ll know it when you hear it. When a podcast gains exposure, virality, and success at a scale of other cultural commodities outside of the typical — and limiting — methods of consumption, people will tune in. Many podcatchers, most notably iTunes, operate on a subscribe-and-download methodology. This system requires a new listener to venture into a foreign ecosystem to discover audio content. Reliance on downloads requires content creators and advertisers to accept inconsistent and incomplete data.

This isn’t the future of 2016. As streaming on-demand content grows, we’ll see the rise of audio discovery outside of a dedicated app, and integrated into the ways we already share content on social streams, the open web, and on mobile. When a piece of content can be experienced as a play button, the potential for new audiences dramatically increases. The landscape for on-demand audio is looking more like how we encounter YouTube now: rarely on YouTube dot com, but certainly everywhere else.

When your search turns up podcast results, we’ve reached a critical mass. Internet futurists, keep your eyes on Pop Up Archive.

When agency-level digital ad spends target podcasts, we’ll know the future is here. And why wouldn’t it? A sponsorship host read in a listener’s ear is the most powerful, effective method of advertising. And because of that — the most valuable. Ad blockers are increasingly ubiquitous, so why wouldn’t advertising agencies opt for something an algorithm can’t strip out: a human voice. Indeed, what is more native than a known and trusted voice reading an intimate, mobile-optimized audio experience?

And most importantly — for me as a content creator, certainly — we’ll know we’ve arrived when the content that is successful features voices, experiences, formats and ideas that go far beyond the standup comic/hack your body/public radio esoterica that has defined and limited the podcast realm. Shows like The Read, Call Your Girlfriend, and You’re Welcome with Zoe Nightingale would never find a home in the outdated era of broadcast, but will thrive in the age of podcast.

Caitlin Thompson is director of content at Acast.

What to read next
The Verge launches Circuit Breaker, a gadget blog-as-Facebook page
The Verge is launching a new gadget blog that is built for Facebook. (Articles will also run on The Verge’s website.)
0Millennial-focused local startup Charlotte Agenda is expanding its model to a second city, Raleigh
The North Carolina startup says it’s profitable and is looking to expand its reach — but it’s not seeking outside funding.
0With a scripted daily comedy news show, Mic looks to add a little late night TV to the social video mold
“We don’t just present a bunch of headlines and say what we think. Our videos are chock-full of facts and research.”
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Center for Investigative Reporting
National Review
Global Voices
The Nation
Windy Citizen
Tampa Bay Times
Sacramento Press