Behind the Numbers: Pod People Take Over

Despite podcasting's slow growth, it's attracting advertisers

The iPod has become an almost indispensable element of modern culture. But despite the fact that the device is on a fast track to ubiquity in Americans purses, pockets and backpacks, podcasts themselves are not yet widespread.
In fact, only 19 percent of Internet users have downloaded a podcast to listen to or watch later, according to a Pew Internet and American Life Project from August 2008.

While that number is up from 12 percent two years ago, it's worth noting that the figure includes both audio and video podcasts - suggesting that, despite the rapid rise in popularity of online video and Web shows in the past few years, the regular consumption of such podcasts is still not mainstream.

In fact, only 3 percent of Internet users who download podcasts do so on a typical day: Only 17 percent of thsoe who download podcasts say they do so daily. "Podcasting has yet to become a fixture in the everyday lives of Internet users," the report says. To obtain its podcast estimates, Pew conducted a national telephone survey of American adults in April and May.

Podcasting has become a popular vehicle for savvy advertisers who like to include emerging mediums in their ad buys. Advertisers such as Audible and GoToMeeting have become staples on audio podcasts, while video podcasts have attracted a wide range of sponsors, such as Beck's, eMusic, Bank of America, Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Microsoft Vista and others. That's because the typical podcast audience tends to be highly engaged and loyal. In many cases, consumers have to find the show, subscribe to it, and then sync their iPods or MP3 players to listen to or watch those shows. It's not difficult, but it does require action on the part of the consumer. As a result, the audience for most podcasts tends to be made up of people who are interested, engaged and targeted. That's why podcasting continues to be an attractive ad medium.

The opportunities to advertise are broad. There are now 43,000 podcasts available today, both audio and video, with more than 2 million episodes, the podcast directory Podcast Alley reports. That's up from 26,000 podcasts and more than 1 million episodes in November 2006.

The most popular category is "technology," with more than 4,000 podcasts on this topic. Next in line are comedy, religion, spirituality and business.

Advertisers evaluating this growing medium should also keep the demographic breakdown in mind. Pew found that 22 percent of online men, compared with just 16 percent of online women, report ever having downloaded a podcast. But both genders are equally likely to download podcasts on any given day.

The age breakdown for podcast usage is evenly distributed, with users from all age groups, except 65 and older, likely to download podcasts.

In a not-so-surprising finding, the Pew report states that homes with broadband are much more likely to subscribe to and download podcasts.

iPod and MP3-player ownership is growing fast: As of late last year, 43 percent of Internet users owned an iPod or an MP3 player, up from 26 percent of Internet users in April 2006. 

2 comments about "Behind the Numbers: Pod People Take Over".
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  1. Leonard Sipes from Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, January 5, 2009 at 9:23 a.m.

    I represent a federal criminal justice agency in Washington D.C. Our TV and radio poscasts at (DC Public Safety) has 1.5 million requests since January of 2007. Podcasting is alive and growing. Len Sipes.

  2. michael delahousaye, January 5, 2009 at 5:20 p.m.

    I am addicted to PodCasts. On iTunes you go to the Pod Cast guide and select the shows that interest you. Your iPod automatically downloads the new shows and deletes the shows you have seen or listened to.

    It is content on demand and with out it I would consume significantly less content.

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