As the popularity of podcasts continues to grow, more marketers are considering and investing in the medium, beyond the host reading out their brand name during an ad break. Increasingly, it’s the brands themselves backing podcast production, with Slack, Spotify, eBay, and more among them. Now Microsoft has joined the fray with a new podcast called .future (dot-future), that aims to tell stories about growing technologies that touch our everyday lives – from the cloud, to gaming, to health – and how the decisions being made today will affect our lives in the future.
Launched this week, the new podcast was made with Gimlet Creative, the branded content arm of the podcast company behind popular shows like StartUp and Reply All.
Microsoft’s head of influencer relations Doug Dawson says that the podcast allows the brand to go beyond an ad to have more in-depth conversations around the biggest trends in technology with people both inside and outside the company.
“There are some ideas you just can’t get across in a tweet,” says Dawson. “In a fast food world, this is us inviting folks to sit down and take the time to enjoy a home-cooked meal with us and a few friends.”
Gimlet Creative deputy creative director Frances Harlow says they worked closely with the brand to find the right framing for the show’s concept.
“A lot of people are intimidated by the speed at which technology is changing our lives. Microsoft’s goal was to shift the perceptions of emerging technology from scary and unknown into a tool that can bring about positive change,” says Harlow. “We decided the best way to do that was to look at the future through the lens of choice. The future isn’t some inevitable, sci-fi movie waiting to happen. It’s the result of the choices we–both individually and collectively –are making every day.”
The new show marks the second branded pod launch for Gimlet Creative in the last few months, with Virgin Atlantic’s The Venture premiering back in April. As branded content goes, there is a challenge overcoming the leap of faith listeners must take to actually check out and subscribe to a podcast produced by a brand. But Harlow says with that also comes significant opportunity.
“Since it’s such an intimate medium, it’s a natural fit for a big brand that’s looking to connect with people on a more human level,” she says. “Companies that touch so many industries around the globe, like Microsoft, are ripe with stories.”