BOSTON: Following its successful experiment with podcasting this time last year, industrial conglomerate GE is revisiting the medium with a second season of GE Podcast Theater.

The first season – a weekly eight-episode science fiction podcast called The Message – became the most listened-to branded content podcast ever, and the first branded content podcast to reach the top spot on iTunes.

"The Message set a high bar for us," admitted Alexa Christon, GE's head of media innovation, ahead of the launch of LifeAfter, the second season.

But driving awareness of the GE brand remains the priority. "We're still looking at the same metrics: engagement, shares, downloads," she told Ad Exchanger.

And, for now, monetization is not on the cards. "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."
Observers have suggested that podcasting is a great format for highly-targeted direct-response ads – with many recondite topics of interest covered by small shows with a highly-engaged audience.

That opens up new creative opportunities, but the intimacy of a podcast also increases the pressures to get such advertising right.

"If someone's chosen to listen, and you're in the way, you have a responsibility to make sure that content is contextually relevant and enhances the experience," Camilla Harrison, CEO of the Anomaly agency told an industry event last year.

With The Message having being downloaded more than 5m times, GE sees no need to go down that road yet.

"It's a marketing message, but it's also something listeners attribute to GE," said Matt Turck, CRO of podcast network Panoply, which worked on the writing, casting and distribution of both seasons.

"It's the GE Podcast Theater, but it's also valuable content for someone to enjoy."

Data sourced from Ad Exchanger; additional content by Warc staff