When creating the perfect ad campaign, businesses traditionally utilized a mix of the same advertising platforms: television, radio, outdoor, print, & online. But as the power and speed of technology continue to increase, the number of new, effective advertising platforms available to marketers also increases. Businesses of all shapes and sizes now have smarter, targeted, cost-efficient ad solutions than ever before. One of these newly emerging, powerful mediums mixes traditional video with talk radio and the convenience of the internet. It’s known as podcasting — and business is booming.

A podcast is a form of online entertainment (sometimes educational), typically setup like a television or radio show. They can be audio-only or podcasts can include video. Some shows are very simple: one host, one microphone — thats it. Others are full productions: large casts, multiple cameras, post-editing, etc.  While some podcasts offer live-streaming, most shows are pre-recorded and uploaded to a variety of media sites, like YouTube, iTunes, Amazon, & the Android Store. The beauty of podcasting for those who want to create their own show and those who want to listen to shows is the ease & accessibility at which they can be created and consumed. Even with minimum equipment, almost anybody can create their own podcast & send it out to the masses. And if you own a computer or mobile device, you can find the right podcast for you in a matter of a few clicks and taps.

Now that we’ve covered what a podcast is, let’s discuss how Americans are consuming these shows and the ways businesses and advertisers can benefit from this growing medium. With the rapid way that internet and mobile devices have changed the world of advertising in the past decade, it is no surprise that podcast consumption is recently on the rise. 17 percent of Americans age 13 and up (thats almost 50 million people) have listened to a podcast in the past month, up from 9 percent in 2008 — as theyve gotten easier to download and as the accessibility of Wi-Fi and mobile data has multiplied. It doesn’t look like podcast consumption is going to slow down any time soon, either. Studies show that one in three podcast listeners expect to increase their podcast consumption in the next six months. These are staggering numbers which traditional marketers often overlook.

Consumption is on the rise, but why else should advertisers consider including podcasts in their advertising campaigns? While podcast consumption has expanded past super tech-savy audiences and continues to grow among the general population, Jim Elms, Global CEO of Initiative Media believes that “when we hear ‘podcast listenerswe think of early adopters, passionate consumers, dedicated to deep cultural content.” These characteristics surely create a desirable audience that advertisers need to reach. Podcasts also make it easy to target favorable audiences that make sense for your business. Shows can focus on thousands of different topics. Topics range from stay-at-home moms presenting advice on “couponing" and life-hacks to political shows, sports-specific programs, or business-related themes. These examples would certainly attract very different niche audiences from one another, allowing businesses to target their messages to their unique, niche consumer bases. Podcasts put consumers in a mindset that is favorable to ad receptivity. Consumers who listen to podcasts have full control over the theme of the podcast they are listening to, so they are more likely to be interested and engaged with advertisements that are related to the content of their shows.

While advertising in popular podcast programs has proven to be an excellent tool for branding, businesses should also consider creating their own podcasts as part of their upcoming media plans. Podcasts are: easy to get started, they’re a great way to brand yourself as an industry expert, and the perfect tool for reaching new audiences. So whether you decide to place ads in a national, industry-specific podcast that has been around for years, or you think publishing your own podcast program is right for you, just make sure you consider this rapidly growing advertising medium in one form or another.