100 Brilliant Companies

What's Behind the Branded Podcasts That Don't Sound Like Ads

What's Behind the Branded Podcasts That Don't Sound Like Ads
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This story appears in the June 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Podcasts will attract 98 million sets of ears this year -- double the number from 2009. But their ads are supereasy to skip. Four ex-radio producers formed Pacific Content to fix that problem: They create branded podcasts for companies such as Slack and Shopify, which are so good that listeners won’t treat them like ads. Its founders explain how:

Steve Pratt: “The future of the media business is teaching brands to act more like media companies. When Serial came out in 2014 and podcasting rose, we realized there’s a massive market void in branded content.”

Jennifer Ouano: “We needed brands that were willing to take a risk and that wouldn’t expect people to sign up for their service the minute they heard the podcast. It would be a first touch of the brand and would be about telling compelling stories.”

Chris Boyce: “It takes time for people to wrap their heads around it. But what we’re producing is every bit as good as the stuff I used to produce at CBC Radio. We’re expanding the types of business models that can create high-quality content -- and the audience will follow.”

Rob Leadley: “We use Seth Godin as inspiration. He wrote Permission Marketing back in 1999. It’s not a new concept, but the challenge is how to tackle it. Part of it is looking for the imaginative companies, the ones that are innovating and driving our world forward.” 

Pratt: “I feel like we’re part of helping define the future of media. The rules aren’t written yet, and we’ve created our dream jobs. I don’t want to gloat, but we’re having an awesome time.”

Check out more companies on the 2016 Brilliant 100 list

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