Podcasts have evolved from a trendy buzz word into a more mature phase, where you can now find some admirable long-standing podcasts that have withstood the test of time. That said, the podcast as a medium remains somewhat marginal in terms of mainstream consumption. I catalogued the number of podcasts out there before, in an attempt to understand the state of the podcasting business (read here) and the numbers seem rather stable, although the Asian market might tell a different story. If you are already an avid podcast listener, then you can probably skip this post, although at the bottom I cite the best podcasts I listen to.

How many podcasts are there?

podcast ipod, The Myndset Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy

There are no hard facts about how many podcasts are out there (and still live).  When I studied this question a year ago, I found that there were apparently some 150,000 worldwide (BBC article from 2011), with some 90K (per Podcast Alley via PEW) in the US.  Podcast awareness even in the US remains rather low at 45% (having plateaued out since 2007). How many are updated on a frequent basis is even more sketchy.

podcast filetype:xml, The Myndset digital marketing

Using the method in Google “podcast filetype:xml” and limiting the search to the past month, this would suggest that there are just over 8K episodes recorded each month in the Western World, which must not be right. I tend to find that there are three types of podcasts out there:

  • the mass media asset repurposed for the podcast, for example, coming from a radio or TV station
  • the professional podcaster (independent)
  • the amateur (inconsistent quality and unreliable publishing calendar)

As the general online noise level continues to rise, the opportunity for the smaller podcaster to surface has decreased dramatically.  I do believe that brands could still use the channel for valuable content or education-based marketing and sales efforts. {Tweet here if you agree!}. To-date, brands remain very low users of the podcast.

Podcasts Podcast alley 2011 PEW, The Myndset Digital Marketing

Perhaps the biggest “thing” to impact podcasting, other than social media fatigue, has been the burgeoning increase of internet radio with Spotify, Pandora, Deezer & co.

Reasons to listen to a podcast

The way I see podcasts, they provide three great advantages (please add more in the comment section!):

  • You don’t need to read or fold and unfold your newspaper in the commuter crush
  • With the audio podcast, you can walk around town, keeping your eyes on the cars and the architecture, and still remain up to date
  • They come in different shapes and sizes to fit the down moment you have (waiting for the doctor, stuck in an elevator, beside a dull passenger…)

Four types of podcasts

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Before I started to podcast myself three years ago, I looked specifically at the moments of consumption. When would my audience most likely be in the right frame of mind to listen? How long would they want them to last? I see four different segments:

  1. The Queue – This podcast is a 2 to 4 minute podcast that you can listen to in the queue at the check-out in.  Perfect for unexpected short bursts of time.
  2. The Commute – An 18 to 25 minute duration in line with the average commuter time.
  3. The Conditioner – From 30 to 45 minutes, this podcast is to last the time you are on the treadmill, rowing machine or doing your daily jog.
  4. The Companion – Between 1 hour and 1 1/2 hours, this is the longform version of the podcast and is great for the long solo car ride, prolonged gardening or marathon runners, to mention a few longer lasting solo activities.

For podcasters, if you consider how the material is being consumed, then it probably is important to stick to your “slot.” In both my French (iTunes link) and English (iTunes link) podcasts, I tend to be around the 25-minute mark.  In terms of rhythm, I attempt to record two of each language per month.  If you listen to them, please do provide me with some unadulterated feedback!

The best podcasts (by theme)


  • ABC World News with Diane Sawyer provides a 20-25 minute video cast that is cut for the medium. The downside is that the content is very American local and they will tend to cover too much weather reporting (no real interest for people living abroad).
  • The BBC daily World Update (audio / 30 minutes).
  • What about the New York Times, you might rightly ask?  The NYT Front Page edition was abandoned in March 2012… 🙁  

Marketing (and Digital Marketing)

  • The definitive Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel (45 minutes).  Everyone Mitch interviews has written a book and/or is the source of some great ideas.
  • The Digital Marketing podcast by Daniel Rowles and Ciaran Rogers (UK) – audio with anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes.  Operational experience and advice.  Often informal, but always worth listening to.
  • Marketing over Coffee with John Wall and Christopher Penn (especially if you like talking coffee too!) – Audio format, 15-30 minutes.  A twosome with a good long history together.  They cover a whole range of topics each session.


  • TEDTalks – love the fact that you can watch this without being connected!  Video or audio format. As ever, never more than 18 minutes.
  • HBR Ideacast (10-20 minutes, audio). Usually great interviewees.

Would love to have your input on the different formats.  Please feel free to recommend your favorite podcasts (and the why!).

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