This month podcasting service Acast announced that they’ve passed 100m monthly listens – doubling the amount they achieved this time last year.

For regular podcast listeners, its surging popularity may seem unsurprising, but Acast’s thriving fan base actually represents a major milestone in the significant growth of podcast listenership in the UK, and raises the question: are we taking the medium as seriously as we should be?

Podcasts are perhaps unjustly considered ‘niche’. For example, although coming from humble beginnings, fan-favourite ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ recently sold out the Royal Albert Hall with its live show – not bad for a series that launched just three years ago, having been recorded in one of the presenters’ living rooms.

Acast’s own Audio Intelligence report also shows that 23% of the UK population have listened to a podcast in the last month – while 27% of 16-34s listen at least once a week. On average, Brits spend more than 3.6 hours per week with the channel. Moreover, AudioBoom – another main podcast platform – reported YoY revenue growth of 329% in Q3 2017, showing that brands are becoming more and more interested in the medium to showcase their brand.

The channel is growing rapidly in terms of reach, and thus has real advertising potential. Podcasts offer a unique way for brands to connect with their audience on a more personal and integrated level.  Brands are waking up to this and becoming smarter in the ways they’re using them. The channel lends itself well to branded content, on top of being a pure audio delivery mechanism; we’re seeing more brands actually working with content producers to create their own episode/series in addition to bespoke sponsor reads from the podcasters themselves.

The IAB has also identified podcasts as a channel that needs to be given full attention in the digital audio space. In August 2017, they released a Podcast Playbook to guide marketers in how they approach advertising on podcasts.

Perhaps the key part of podcasting’s immediate future is in how advertisers can go about buying it in conjunction with other audio activity, both to ensure consistent brand messaging but also manage frequency.

Acast have recently started their venture into programmatic buying, with DBM’s fairly recent rollout of audio buying – it’s only be a matter of time before the likes of Acast & AudioBoom work out a better way to work with tradedesks.

Ultimately, this recent news has confirmed what we all know anecdotally – that podcasting is a unique and valuable channel as yet untapped by brands who may be unsure about how to use them in the most effective way. Re-purposing audio ads is one way into the channel, but partnering with talent can be an even better one. One thing is for certain – the future is bright for the medium and for brands who are able to unlock its full potential.