As a consumer medium, podcasting has been around for more than 15 years, but it’s only recently come into its own as an advertising medium.
Today, podcasts have risen out of basements and garages and achieved mainstream respectability. Media stalwarts, from NPR to The New York Times, have embraced podcasting, producing highly stylized audio news shows, as have successful digital media brands like The Ringer.
For me, it’s exciting to see how far the medium has come, as a piece of my heart still lies with audio, having worked in Arbitron’s radio broadcast measurement business for 19 years.
The growing investment in podcast production is both a contributor to and product of the growing number of podcast listeners. According to our new consumer survey, the number of podcast listeners has risen the past two years among all age groups, with the greatest gains coming among Gen-Zers. The survey data also suggests the market still has plenty of room to grow, as more than a third (34%) of podcast listeners didn’t dabble with the medium until 2020.
Not only is the total number of listeners increasing, but they are becoming more engaged. More than one-third (36%) of podcast listeners increased the amount of time they spent listening to podcasts over the past year, with 52% saying their time spent stayed the same. A fraction (12%) said their consumption decreased, but a little bit of churn is natural for any platform, and the pandemic has impacted work commutes, which is prime podcast listening time for many.
The most exciting news for advertisers is that podcast audiences are especially responsive to advertising. Our survey shows that 42% of podcast listeners have purchased products advertised on their favorite shows, and 29% have used promo codes hawked by podcast hosts. A third of respondents said podcasts are a good medium for brands to reach them, and even more (36%) said they research products endorsed on podcasts they listen to.
Perhaps podcasting’s effectiveness as an advertising medium is due to how podcasts are consumed. Many podcasts listeners enjoy their shows while driving, exercising, or while doing chores around the house, activities that require the use of their hands and therefore don’t lend themselves to skipping ads. Or, at the very least, the people who aren’t skipping ads are listening to them intently.
As podcasts continue to grow, they will present an increasingly enticing opportunity for brands, especially ones who want to make in-roads with millennial and Gen Z consumers. And brands will be happy to know that as the podcasting industry has matured, so has our ability to track its effectiveness as an advertising platform. Podcasting can now be measured with the same precision and insight as any other digital advertising medium, allowing brands to know how and where to spend their podcast ad dollars.
The content has improved, the audience is growing and the ads make it to the consumer’s ear. For brands, the opportunity is large.