Starting out as a podcast app, and growing into a fully-fledged podcast production house, Podeo has set its phasers to reaching Arab listeners and empowering Arab creators. We talk to founder Stefano Fallaha to find out more.
“The goal was to create a holistic podcast platform that tailors the perfect audio experience for Arab listeners and caters perfectly to Arab creators,” Stefano Fallaha, founder of Podeo tells Startup Scene.
Falling in line with what, not only analysts, but any individual would expect, the content streaming world has had its shining moment during the COVID-19 outbreak. Streaming giants such as Netflix, HBO Now and Prime Video have seen a collective 51% increase in amount of hours watched worldwide. That mass flock of users gravitating toward streaming content - now more than ever - has also had them venture more into podcasts, with a 12% increase in worldwide podcast listening.
For the past two years, Podeo, one of the region’s handful of podcast networks complete with its own app, has been carving a space for Arabic content. “When we started in 2018, our aim was to empower Arab listeners and creators. With over 400 million Arabic speakers, and a medium that has seen a massive success for the past four or five years in attracting audiences and instigating dialogue, we felt the need to bridge the two,” says Fallaha.
Podeo made sure that before dipping into the vast world of podcasting, they needed the right data. Unlike replete reports and studies on the subject in Western markets, Arab listener habits - while not a complete enigma - are still being figured out day-by-day. Add to that a global pandemic that has colossally morphed all what we knew as ordinary into a “new normal”, and you’ve got new nooks and crannies presenting themselves to be discovered.
“We spent the due time and effort to figure all the in’s and out’s of the industry. Gathering data and researching listener habits to serve as our beacon into how we’ll shape our platform. From the UI, accessibility to the back and frontend of the app and website, it was all based on findings on what an Arab listeners are looking for in a podcasting app,” says Fallaha.
On top of their app, Podeo’s also invested and expanded into becoming a podcast production house and distributor. That means Podeo not only hosts a massive library of existing Arabic podcasts, but also empowering Arab creators to create, launch and market their own shows on the platform. “Creators are able to host, edit and distribute through Podeo to various other platforms,” Fallaha adds. “But what was surprising is that 70% of our original shows’ listeners are tuning in from our app or web player. Despite these shows being made available on other podcast platforms, they still choose to listen through us.”
Podeo’s edge is its devotion to the Arab listener; from the interface to language support, it provides an experience that might just have Arab audiences favour it over major podcast apps such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify. “We spent a lot of time tweaking and testing what works and what doesn’t. We tried to find this harmony of having an interface that is simple to use and also increases the willingness to discover new shows and content on Podeo,” says Fallaha.
One of the app’s features is understanding that most listeners would pick podcasts as their main entertainment while commuting. Podeo has built an algorithm that has users provide information such as how long their commute is and which genres of podcasts they like, and the app generates plenty of recommendations that fits what they’re seeking. From there, the algorithm then has a clear understanding of what this listener leans more into in terms of mood, length of episodes and types of shows.
“Part of empowering our creators is to provide them with data and insights that help them also figure out what lands and what doesn’t. If we find out that a listener dropped an episode twenty minutes in, we provide our creators with that feedback so they’re able to try and figure out why that is. Was it a change in the tone of the host? Did the episode dull down by then? This helps creators have real-time updates on their content,” Fallaha adds.
Podeo also understands that podcasts can now generate ad revenue through brand partnerships. Spotify has recently made major investments into the world of podcasting — with acquisitions of two major podcast networks and closing deals to have popular podcasts become Spotify exclusives with deals reported worth $400 million. This new world of advertising opportunities has already intrigued Arab brands, and creates opportunities for content creators to be suitably compensated for their talent.
“On top of our distribution channels now closing deals with automotive and airline services to include our libraries, we’re determined to help our creators monetise their content by basically playing matchmaker with our creators and brands,” adds Fallaha. “That’s a core part of our agreement with all our creators: we’re going to help you make money out of this, and provide you with the platform to showcase your content far and wide to Arabic-speaking listeners both regionally and globally.”
You can download Podeo on iOS and Android.
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