Podcast Trends: 7 Things to Expect in 2020

By Alison Osborne

2019 was a big year for podcasting.

From rising listener growth, acquisitions and analytics developments, there’s one name that stands out from the rest; Spotify. 


Spotify took over the podcasting conversation in 2019 as it continued to make headway in its mission to become the globe’s top streaming platform. After acquiring distribution and dynamic ad platform Anchor, Spotify stepped up their game from focusing on tech to content. Their acquisition of Gimlet Media for almost $400 million was the first step to showing the world that Spotify is more than just music, it’s audio. 


As a household name in the podcasting world, the acquisition of Gimlet turned the heads of some of the world’s largest entertainment brands. Maybe there’s something to this podcasting thing after all. Brands increasingly started to look at the medium as a way to reach end consumers, and the conversation in podcasting began to switch towards how the industry will accommodate major ad budgets entering the space. 


But 2019 is over. It’s time to take a look at what’s in store for 2020.

1. Apple vs. Spotify for Listenership


The battle continues in 2020 - Apple vs. Spotify? In 2019, Apple and Spotify were in competition for market share when it comes to listeners (especially through Spotify’s major growth in the podcast space). Dave Zohrob, the CEO of Chartable stated that:


“Spotify will reach at least 25% listener share by the end of 2020 - a huge win for Spotify and a clear warning to Pandora, Apple and other folks.”


Check out our quick breakdown of listening platforms in 2020 here

2. Creating a Listener Profile


Your listeners are what makes you unique and in 2020, we’re going to see a shift towards figuring out who your podcast audience actually is. This means creating listener profiles for each individual series that you produce. 


Creating listener profiles help you to better understand who your audience is and how to communicate with them. It’s useful when your distributing content to know what they like, don’t like, where and when they like to listen, etc. It’s also incredibly helpful to have a breakdown of your listeners to provide to potential sponsors so they know who their ads are being distributed to. 


Get our more in-depth overview of finding out who your listener is here.

3. Improved Podcast SEO (Hallelujah) 


In 2020 be prepared to see an improvement in how we’re able to optimize podcast series. Obviously, podcasters need to pay attention to the old fashioned ways of SEO like using keywords in titles and descriptions or transcribing episodes into blogs, but there are also some new trends in podcast SEO that are on the horizon. 

As voice search continues to grow at a rapid rate, through Googles NLP (natural language processing) they’ll be able to pinpoint specific timestamps in a podcast that are relevant to a voice enquiry, woah. 

On top of this, Google is also going to be indexing podcasts similar to how videos are indexed. Currently, videos have their own window that users can watch a video directly through the search. Podcasts will have a similar style where users can listen to an episode directly on Google rather than having to go to another listening platform to hear the series. 

Read our full breakdown of podcast SEO in 2020 here

4. Let’s Talk About Podcast Quality


With over 800,000 podcasts and over 30 million episodes, it’s clear that there’s a lot of content out there. And this is why we need to talk about your podcast quality and how it can take you a long way when it comes to competing against other series. 


If you already have or are looking to release a podcast series, ensure that you’re giving your listeners high-quality audio and content. If you’re not, then why would they consume your podcast over a rival one with higher quality. 


In 2020 we’re going to see podcasters begin to realize the importance of quality as the number of podcasts grows daily. Read our full article breaking down some tips for creating a high-quality podcast here

5. Increased Budgets


This one makes us very happy. Podcasts are no longer only valuable at an individual level. Today, brands are waking up to the power of podcasts as a content marketing tactic. In 2020 we’re going to see more brands shift towards podcasting.


We can also expect brands to realize how they can use podcasts to their advantage whether it be for awareness, event engagement, internal comms, or business development. You can read our full breakdown on how brands can expect to use podcasts in 2020 and why budgets are growing here.

6. Programmatic Advertising 


Programmatic advertising is a fun new strategy that we’ve seen podcasters start to use in order to have more targeted ads. But first, let us quickly breakdown what it is. Programmatic advertising is the use of AI and algorithms to buy and optimize ads in real-time. This makes the automation of the ads much more efficient and also increases conversions while lowering customer acquisition costs.


We can also expect to learn more about Spotify’s new Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) service in 2020. Check out our quick overview of programmatic advertising in podcasts and where we see the ad space moving in 2020 here

7. Moving Away from Downloads as a Key Metric


For a very long time in the podcast space, when people would judge the success of a podcast it came down to the number of downloads. We’re happy to say that in 2020 we’re going to see a shift away from just looking at the downloads. 


Instead, we’ll start to judge the success of a podcast based on who’s talking about it and what they’re saying (basically the narrative around it). And as Spotify continues to strengthen its brand as a key player in the podcast space, we’ll see the importance of streams overrule downloads. 


Read our more in-depth article here about how we’ll think about downloads in 2020 here.

What Are Your Predictions? 


We want to hear from you! What are some trends you see occurring in the podcast space in 2020? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn at #OMHPodcast2020!