Nielsen New 375

As podcasting continues to become an entrenched element of the media landscape, there are greater opportunities for stations to mesh it into their digital strategies. That’s one takeaway from last week’s Nielsen’s Audio Conference outside Washington, D.C.

Panelist Rob Greenlee, head of content at podcasting platform Spreaker, acknowledged that podcasting has grown steadily over the past decade, becoming a major content player that is readily accessible. “You can get to it easy, sync it and listen anywhere. In the next phase, we’ll see it grow into homes and cars—and the phone will be the conduit for that.”

Comments at the confab focused less on podcasts as radio rivals and more as a partner for traditional radio, particularly as consumers become more embedded in on-demand media lifestyles.

Rob McCracken, a director in the digital solutions group at Scripps Media, suggested that radio programmers look toward repurposing and repackaging existing content and then keep an ear open to creating new content that doesn’t necessarily fit their on-air formats. That includes longer-form segments.

Rob Walch, VP of podcaster relations at podcast hosting company Libsyn, noted that 65% of the most downloaded podcasts are 50 minutes or longer. “The best thing about podcasting is that it can be anything,” he said. “Find something the host is passionate about and find an audience for it.”

There are also opportunities for stations to steer podcasting content to a local audience. “Podcasting right now is purely a global medium,” said Greelee, “but radio stations have the tools to make it local.”

Another variable in the podcasting pie is adding it to audience measurement, which Rob Kass, VP of product leadership at Nielsen, said can be a revenue-driver for radio, as third-party measurement progresses and content creators look to monetize their efforts. He stressed that the digital audio realm—including podcasts—is a big part of the Total Audience picture. “We can approach measuring digital audio like radio where we report average quarter-hour, or we can report on a minute-by-minute level. So we’re really looking to the industry to give us guidance around what it wants and needs. It’s going to be a team effort, and Total Content Ratings is our goal.”