Audio content has gained in popularity over recent years in China. According to iiMedia Research, the number of online audio users in China rose by more than one-fifth to hit 425 million in 2018. And the number touched 542 million users this year. The so called “ear-economy,” in China, which includes podcasts, audiobooks, audio livestreaming, and other forms of online audio content, is exhibiting faster growth compared with other channels such as mobile video and mobile reading. The market revenue of China’s online audio industry was RMB 17.58 billion (USD 2.5 billion) in 2019, with a solid year-on-year increase of 55.1% compared to 2018, and is estimated to hit RMB 27.2 billion (USD 3.8 billion) by 2020, according to iResearch. “When you’re listening to audio programs, you’re learning something but you don’t feel anxious, like when reading a book,” said a Weibo user. And more and more young people listen to audio content every day. Without doubts, podcasts are gaining momentum thanks to its essence: providing information, or enjoying content, while doing daily activities. A combination of social and technological factors has led Chinese society to jump on the podcast wagon, experts said. While technological factors include cheap smartphones, the ease of paying for subscriptions via mobile payment methods, and affordable data plans, social factors include city dwellers’ long commutes and busy lifestyles, said KrAsia.
But here the question: How could we use podcasts for our business in China? As we said, unlike in the West, in China, the podcast industry positions itself within the burgeoning paid knowledge sector. Moreover, while in West podcasts are almost completely free or advertisement-supported, Chinese podcast hosts are already monetizing via paid subscriptions. The COVID-19 outbreak has helped to accelerate podcast platforms’ rising popularity and people pay to listen and companies are paying too due to marketing their products. There’s one key reason that brands are paying more money for podcast advertising: it works. So why is podcast advertising a more effective way for brands to gain attention? Especially in China, people listen to podcasts because they have deep respect for the host. And since they put their trust in the hosts of their favorite podcasts, they’re much more receptive to the brands that these hosts decide to endorse. Then, speaking is quicker than writing or video editing. Writing takes a lot of time. Speaking, on the other hand, is a lot quicker. A 30-minute podcast takes about 30 minutes of your time (plus minor edits and uploading). Whereas, it would take you hours, if not days, to write or edit the same amount of content.
Today in China, competition in the online audio market has become intense. The future of the industry looks promising, yet, challenges remain in terms of boosting revenues. To increase revenue, podcasts companies are also looking for new business cooperations. According to the same estimates by iResearch, the Chinese audio online market industry is set to grow almost 55% in 2020, 46.4% in 2021, and 36.1% in 2021 to reach a market revenue of RMB 54.3 billion (USD 7.8 billion).