To say the least, I am happy but not surprised by Google's decision to include playable podcasts in its search results. In 2018 alone, the podcast market generated $479.1 million in revenue — a 53 percent jump in just a year. Moreover, the expected to generate more than $1 billion by 2021 as per a new report by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
We earlier reported how Spotify and Apple were competing for the podcast market by acquiring podcast networks. Spotify alone announced its plans to spend $500 million in 2019 in podcast-related acquisitions, and has recently acquired Parcast and Gimlet Media — two of the biggest podcast studios.
But Google — being Google — and having a podcast streaming application itself, has made a strong mark in the space with its recent decision to include podcasts in its search results that can be played directly via the search platform.
Why is Google's decision of allowing podcasts in its search results a big deal?
Simply put, it eases the consumer journey and addresses the biggest issue people face when it comes to listening to podcasts — searching for new content.
We have all been there — trying to find a new interesting podcast but not have keywords we use show up the good ones in order. It is like looking through an 80s' library drawer. Now if you could only find them and test them out on Google's search results page, wouldn't it become so much easier? And isn't Google basically trying to invade our lives to make finding answers and doing things easier?
How will the podcast developers benefit?
Firstly, they will gain access to a larger audience and gain more visibility through Google's search results. Secondly, Google will be rolling out features through which podcast hosts can fine tune where the listener will be able to start hearing a snippet (considering people don't spend too long on a search result while finding the one they are looking for).
Moreover, to be able to pull off this search indexing, Google is automatically transcribing all the podcast episodes, which makes the job easier for the podcast networks as they do not have to spend more resources to transcribe them.
People will be able to search for podcasts by using the term "podcasts" with or without in conjunction with other terms that narrow the results they are looking for. However, Google is planning to include playable podcasts within the search results without the need for people to include the term, by fine-tuning the algorithms.
The great part is that if you're logged into your phone, and turn on the sync option, you'll be able to sync the podcasts you were listening to, directly on the Google Podcasts app.
That's the long and short of it. With this move, Google has essentially stepped up the competition in a space where it wasn't very well known and Apple and Spotify were the big dogs.