In the series of interviews with market leaders, change-makers, and innovators, we bring our next interview with a storyteller, market leader, and visionary, Jayadevan PK.
Jayadevan PK works with the startup partnerships team at Freshworks as an evangelist, focusing on efforts around content and brand building to grow the visibility of the Freshworks for Startups program. He’s the host of The Orbit Shift Podcast, co-host of The Use Case Podcast, a columnist at Moneycontrol, and a commissioned author at Harper Collins.
His views on startups and technology have been published by several publications including the BBC, The Hindu, CNBCTV18, and Deutsche Welle.
In his previous avatar as a journalist and later an entrepreneur, he has helped set up early teams spanning product, design, technology, and editorial, raise capital, work closely with writers and editors, setup metrics and processes to track growth and performance, strategize and bring innovation to newsrooms. In 2015, he co-founded FactorDaily, an award-winning newsroom.
Jayadevan lives in the suburbs of Bangalore with his family. He spends his free time reading, running, and raising his child.
- How has podcasting evolved in the last few years?
Podcasting was a niche for a long time. Only a few people saw the true potential of the medium. And some of the early podcasters like Leo Laporte of This Week in Tech did really well and continue to do well. Tim Ferris, Joe Rogan, and so many others made it a really amazing medium. It was really in 2014, that it became a lot more mainstream with the hit podcast Serial. Brands picked up on this trend and started spending on podcasts. In many ways, this was the break out year for podcasting and audio storytelling became popular. Radio was on the decline but podcasting picked up. As podcasting moved from the fringes to the mainstream, companies like Spotify, Apple, Google, Gaana, and JioSaavn have also started pushing podcasts to hundreds of millions of people around the world. For the first time, US advertising revenues from podcasting is expected to grow to $ 1 billion this year. In India, we’re yet to see brands spend anything significant on podcasts. But it’s only a matter of time before they do.
- How effective is podcasting as a marketing tool in today’s world?
Podcasts are like flywheels. They’re hard to set in motion. But once they are in motion, they almost run with very little additional effort and become very sustainable channels for marketers. Once it starts rolling, with every little thing you add to the podcast, you’ll see a disproportionate impact. At Freshworks, we’ve been experimenting with podcasts for a long time. This year we launched The Orbit Shift Podcast as a part of the Freshworks for Startups program. The idea is to give enough value to startups and founders through the podcast so that they associate with the Freshworks brand. This means you can’t stop with just podcasts. You need to tie it into a program that makes sense for your listeners. In our case, through our startup program, we give out $10,000 worth of credits to Freshworks products, access to resources, and mentorship. Taken together, it becomes a compelling proposition and helps lift the brand. Eventually, when the numbers add up, it can be a very powerful marketing tool.
- Do you see brands using podcasts to market their products the way they use Video?
Not yet. Video has its advantages. But it’s also expensive and harder to produce. It is also mostly a lean-forward experience. This means people need to be watching the video and ads typically tend to be disruptive. Podcast listening is a lean-back experience. This means you could be out on a run, or driving or doing dishes while listening to podcasts. You have the complete attention of the listener with fewer distractions. So for a brand, it’s really an attractive medium. The numbers are still small but it works in several cases. Also, the profile of a podcast listener is typically someone who is looking to make the most of their time. Those people make a great audience.
That said, a marketer doesn’t think of a medium in isolation. We need to be thinking of all the mediums and pick what works best for us and our target audience. We need to be able to also listen to signals, analyze data, and double down on channels that work best for us.
- According to you what are the ingredients of a good podcast?
A lot of preparation. Guests who have something valuable to share. And a lot of value for the listeners. Good production values and consistency. Podcast market fit.
- How did you foray into podcasting?
It was by accident. For the longest, when I was at FactorDaily, I saw Pankaj produce great podcasts like The Outliers. He encouraged me to start one. Then Ravish came up with the idea of starting something focused on entrepreneurship and called it The Use Case podcast. I joined him as a co-host. There were already some really good ones out there. Initially, I would mostly listen or add a few bits to the conversation. But then I really got hooked on it and really started enjoying the creative process. Earlier this week, we got into the top 10 podcasts under the entrepreneurship category. Then at Freshworks, I started another podcast called The Orbit Shift Podcast. This has also started working well for us.
- What were the initial challenges in the podcasting ecosystem?
For many years, there weren’t many listeners. That’s getting solved as platforms like Spotify and Gaana make it more accessible. Together they have hundreds of millions of users who come to listen to music. But they will also want to consume podcasts.
Podcasts in India are early. So it’s not yet clear to brands how to measure return on investment and most creators are also not very good at showcasing the value to brands. But it’s just a matter of time before they figure it out and double down on podcasts.
- How has the growth of the podcasting community in India?
We’re still in the very early stages. I’m part of several groups of podcast creators and the sheer variety and creativity are super exciting. Many are side projects and are driven by passion. So they aren’t immediately looking to make money off of their podcasts. This gives the ecosystem time to grow and bring more and more listeners into podcasting.
- Where do you see the future of podcasting in India going?
Podcasting is for everyone and not for everyone at the same time. While entry barriers to creating a podcast make it easy to launch a podcast, it’s very hard to crack the audience and produce it consistently once the early enthusiasm dies. But for brands that have cracked it, it can be a sustainable flywheel. As more brands realize this, more money will be spent on podcasts. Also, ad dollars spent on the radio are declining. A lot of it will move to podcasts and other digital mediums. More creators will join the ecosystem and great content will be produced. In turn, it will bring in more listeners. I think it will be very exciting over the next few years.
Team Next Big Brand extends heartiest wishes to Jayadevan. Kudos to him for such an amazing and insightful interview.
You can check our other interviews here.