Ryan McLean : Slightly Unconventional

The Future Of Podcasting

I believe the world of podcasting is about to undergo a massive shift into the mainstream.

The culmination of advances in multiple different technologies are creating a landscape that is primed for the mass adoption of audio delivery of content.

From the beginning of civilisation information has been conveyed through audio format. Natives told stories and myths about the past and Jews used to orally memorise extremely large portions of scripture.

With the invention of the printing press the written word became the most popular way to store and transfer information.

Now video is trending upwards and is predicted to take over the written word as the most used medium for storing the world’s data.

While I don’t think podcasting will surpass (or come close to) video as the primary form of content delivery, I do believe it will ride video’s coattails.

There are 4 major trends that will lead to the rise of podcasting

Trend #1: Access To The Internet On The Go

iPhones and Android devices now mean we have access to information in whatever form we want on the go.

When podcasts were stuck on our computer, or could be transferred only to our iPods, it was much more difficult to gain access to them.

Now with constant access to the internet we can download podcasts without even having to connect to a computer. We can even stream podcasts on the go.

Because access has become easier more people will begin choosing to listen to podcasts instead of the radio…or instead of nothing.

Trend #2: Voice Recognition Software

Voice recognition isn’t great but it is getting better.

Gone are the days where your phone couldn’t even recognise “call mum”, but the YouTube automatic transcription is still just one notch above completely useless.

As voice recognition software continues to improve we will soon be able to map, archive and analyse both videos and podcasts.

As computers begin to break down and understand what is said during a podcast it means we will be able to search podcasts more effectively.

More importantly we will be able to locate specific points in a podcast that serve particular search queries.

Imagine being able to do a “Google search” for podcasts and be directed straight to 21:55 in the podcast until 25:42 to get the information we need.

Trend #3: Semantic Search

When Google rolled out their “Hummingbird” update in September 2013 they changed the way algorithms look at content.

While on the surface very little seemed to change in terms of search results I believe it has ushered in an era where computer are starting to understand content in a similar way to humans.

This semantic search will prove extremely valuable in the world of podcasting, where often a bunch on non-sensible ramble is mixed in with truly valuable content.

For an algorithm to understand not just what it being said but what each sentence means and how that fits in with the context of our search query this will deliver the time based results required to make a “Google for podcasts” something worth using.

Trend #4: Our Need To Always Be Doing Something

Lastly our insatiable desire to consume more and more content every single day means we don’t want to “waste time” when we could be consuming content.

Driving, working out, walking – they all represent opportunities to audibly consume audio content.

More and more people are adopting audio books and podcasts to fill these times and I believe this trend will continue.

In Conclusion

In conclusion I see a world where Google serves up web pages, videos and podcasts in our search results.

I see a world where iTunes really does become a podcast search engine that people use on a daily basis and I see a world where the majority of the market listen to podcasts at least a little bit.

How To Prepare For An Take Advantage Of This

I have no desire to create a search engine for podcasts (though I think it could be a billion dollar idea) but I do want to take advantage of this growing trend.

Current I am creating video and audio versions of almost all of my blog posts and effectively mimicking my website in audio format.

When the transition does happen and podcasts become searchable, my competitors will have a lot of recording to do if they want to catch up to me.

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