GE Continues Its Bet On Audio With More Branded Podcasts

gepodcast_3Audio is still an uncluttered medium where a brand like General Electric can stretch its creative muscles.

“We look at audio like a total white space,” said Alexa Christon, GE’s head of media innovation.

That’s why GE is re-upping its investment in audio with “LifeAfter,” the soon-to-be-released second season of GE Podcast Theater, a modern sci-fi spin on GE’s radio anthology series from the 1950s. The first season, dubbed “The Message,” hit No. 1 on iTunes, amassed 5 million listeners and won multiple Cannes Lions awards after its release in October 2015.

Although Christon declined to comment on specific budget allocations, she noted that GE “is invested in making sure that each program drives our digital industrial brand.”

Last year, the podcast was an experiment more than anything else. Although GE was tracking downloads, subscriber counts and social mentions, Andy Goldberg, GE’s global creative director, said at the time that the brand wasn’t looking to hit specific counts.

But having garnered a following and hit such high marks out of gate, the expectations are higher this year.

“‘The Message’ set a high bar for us,” Christon said. “But we’re still looking at the same metrics: engagement, shares, downloads.”

But the ultimate goal is driving awareness of the GE brand, “and the KPis associated with that are through people that listen to the podcast,” she said, noting that GE will continue to evaluate whether audio is worth the continued investment by charting listener engagement.

And that engagement can be anything from a social share to subscription to talking about the podcast on Reddit.

But GE has no plans to monetize.

lifeafter“We like to be early to platforms and we like to experiment with purpose,” Christon said. “It’s not about monetization, though. It’s about finding and building the platforms and places where we as a brand can engage, delight and, potentially, yes, at some point, transact.”

GE weaves itself into the storyline of its podcasts, treading the line between advertising and storytelling designed to avoid the awkwardness generally associated with branded content.

“We see this as a nod to the past and a nod to what’s coming,” Christon said. “It’s a way to reinvent ad-like objects. Yes, it’s something that came out of our marketing department, but it’s also about creating an experience.”

That’s what makes audio worth the continued investment.

“It’s a marketing message, but it’s also something listeners attribute to GE,” said Matt Turck, CRO of Slate’s podcast network, Panoply. “It’s the GE Podcast Theater, but it’s also valuable content for someone to enjoy.”

Like last year, GE worked with its agency BBDO on the idea, Panoply Media on the writing, casting and distribution and indie agency Giant Spoon on promotion and strategy. “LifeAfter” will be available to download for free from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Overcast and TuneIn on Nov. 13.

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1 Comment

  1. A stated purpose for GE is to experiment with platforms as a way to engage their audience. But what conumer lines of business does GE still own besides appliances and lighting?