Spurred by pandemic lockdowns, smartphone ownership that’s reached 85% of Americans 12 and older, and spiraling smart-speaker adoption, the U.S. podcast audience rose 16% last year to reach 104 million, according to the latest annual podcast report from Edison Research and Triton Digital.
Nearly half (49%) of those 12 to 34, 40% of those 35 to 54 and 22% of those 55 and older said they’ve said they listened to a podcast in the past month.
No surprise, then, that in a recent survey of advertisers who use digital audio, 56% said podcasts have become more important media vehicles since the pandemic.
It helps that they themselves use the format. Two-thirds of them listen to podcasts themselves once a week, and 56% listen to multiple podcasts each week, according to an Advertiser Perceptions report based on its survey of 205 marketers and agency executives.
More important, podcasts were ranked within the top five among media on key branding factors, per an Inside Radio summary of the report.
More than a third (35%) of advertisers said podcasts are effective at improving brand preference/favorability, and 31% said the same about podcasts’ ability to improve brand awareness/recall.
In addition, 27% said podcasts improve consideration/buying intentions — on par with TV, and still within the top five media for this factor.
However, only 18% cited podcasts as effective in increasing sales.
That lower-funnel doubt parallels advertisers’ concerns with podcast measurement and reporting. Two-thirds said they have concerns about the former, and about 60% said they want better attribution and third-party verification.
While Spotify and others are working on more granular metrics, existing metrics generally can't identify fast-forwarding through ads and downloading for later listening, said Sarah Bolton, the research firm’s executive vice president, business intelligence.
On the other hand, 68% of advertisers rank podcasts high on the high-priority brand safety factor, putting podcasts near the top of media on this front.
Even more (72%) cite desirable target audiences as a podcast benefit. Two-thirds or more also view share of voice, seamless integration of ad creative with programming, and engagement with advertising as podcast benefits.
In terms of how they buy podcasts, 60% said they prefer direct buys, while 40% prefer programmatic.
More than two-thirds (67%) report buying by audience segment, 53% buy across podcast networks, 46% buy by genre, 44% by series, and 26% by episode.