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Branded podcasts level up: Ubisoft’s gaming podcasts bring games to life for new audiences

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Photo of Rutger Rosenborg
by Rutger Rosenborg

As the podcast listener base grows, companies across several industries — from automotive to fast food — see podcast production as a way to market to new audiences (sort of like an audio blog). 

Branded podcasts are nothing new for big games publishers like PlayStation and Xbox. But Ubisoft is one of the only big players with one or more active podcasts on the market. 

With podcasts like Behind Massive ScreensTech MakersBeyond Games, and Echoes of History, Ubisoft is expanding its total addressable market to podcast listeners, hoping to bring them into the Ubisoft fold. 

Branded podcasts tend to feel like really long advertisements

For most companies, podcasts are marketing tools and usually in a business-to-business (B2B) capacity. Growing the podcast itself is not the end goal; rather, the goal is to use podcasts as a springboard for marketing, sales, and ultimately company growth. 

There are countless examples of these springboard podcasts (e.g., GE Vernova’s Cutting Carbon and Inside Trader Joe’s). However, they are typically short-lived or niche, failing to generate multiple seasons of sustained success among general audiences. But why?

Essentially, many branded podcasts are thinly veiled long advertisements —not authentic efforts to produce great content. Authenticity is vital in today’s marketing sphere, and today’s consumers — especially super fans — are quick to spot inauthenticity.   

That is not to say that some branded podcasts don’t serve very distinct, utilitarian purposes. For example, the Salesforce Admins Podcast helps Salesforce users extract the maximum value from Salesforce’s customer relationship management (CRM). Meanwhile, Netflix’s WeAreNetflix podcast helps (prospective) employees better understand Netflix’s culture. 

However, as branded podcasts are so specific to a given company — and listeners are served ads in the podcasts — it is difficult for branded podcasts to fully resonate with general audiences. 

Ubisoft’s partnership with History Hit on its Echoes of History podcast underlines a promising model for branded podcasts — one that goes beyond advertising and PR to deliver real value to listeners. 

Ubisoft levels up the branded podcast with Echoes of History

Ubisoft’s podcast offering currently includes four shows, but Echoes of History is its only podcast that extends the IP of a video game into an entirely new format and dimension by giving listeners history lessons based on Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed. It is a true cross-media approach. 

Almost a third of gamers from our Q1 2024 consumer survey listen to history / science / other factual podcasts regularly. That’s higher than the 17% of gamers who listen to games / esports podcasts regularly as of 2023. 

Clearly, there is a healthy degree of interest overlap between gaming and history podcast listening, which is part of what makes this podcast a smart collaboration – for IP expansion and audience growth alike. Both of those things will go much further in marketing Ubisoft than a B2B podcast ever would.

If the content is high quality, producing a crossover podcast can be an effective way to engage different but overlapping audiences — especially when it comes to branded podcasts. 

Partnering with a company specialising in podcasts not only improves the content but also helps reduce the feeling that the podcast only exists as an advertising device. This is great for growing an audience. 

Ubisoft and History Hit’s Echoes of History shows that game companies are not just thinking about podcasting as a marketing tool. They are also leveraging podcasts to bring games to life for players and history buffs alike. At the same time, game franchises like Assassin’s Creed are attracting history buffs to games via the historical settings of the games and gameplay-free Discovery Tours

If more companies could follow this model — engaging with the podcast format beyond just as a functional marketing vertical — branded podcasts might have a much wider effect.

Curious about the trajectory of the global podcast industry? Look no further than this report

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