If you ask a friend, “What’s your favorite podcast?” chances are he or she will have a laundry list of highly recommended programs. A 2016 study conducted by Edison Research indicated that over half of the American population has heard of the term “podcast” and approximately 57 million people listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. As podcasts grow in popularity and span more genres than ever before, their use as a marketing tool expands exponentially.
Looking at the demographics, podcasts cater to a variety of people in different age groups — 38 percent of podcast listeners are in the 18-34 age range, 34 percent are ages 35-54, 11 percent span the ages 12-17 and 17 percent are 55 and older. Regarding gender, the numbers breakdown even more equally with 56 percent male listeners and 44 percent female listeners. While podcast listeners have relatively balanced gender and age group statistics, the average American podcast listener claimed a higher than average level of education and a higher than average annual income. The Edison Research survey indicates that the average podcast listener has received either a four-year or graduate level degree, and is affluent, earning about $63,000 per year.
In addition to providing information about who, on average, listens to podcasts, the survey also presents a telling look at how listening has changed over time. In 2013, the division between mobile and desktop listening was about 50/50, with 58 percent of podcasts being played on desktops and 42 percent played on mobile devices. In 2016, the numbers jumped drastically in favor of smartphones and tablets, facilitating approximately 71 percent of all podcast listening in the U.S. As the clear majority of podcast listeners consume content at home, in the car or at work, it is no wonder that seamless, versatile and convenient mobile devices have become the most favored platform.
Podcast advertising has also proven to have real purchasing power. A recent ComScore study indicated that two-thirds of podcast listeners have “engaged in various research and/or purchase related behaviors” after listening to a podcast advertisement. When compared to all other forms of mobile advertising, podcast ads were the least intrusive among consumers. Like any television series, podcasts are episodic and create a platform for sponsors to slowly introduce themselves to listeners over a period of time. Companies like Scion, MailChimp and Squarespace cornered the podcast market early on in the game and, in turn, are mentioned at the forefront of popular podcasts like the detective drama Serial and public radio shows such as This American Life. Earning cult status among a wide audience of listeners, Serial was estimated to have brought in over 1 million listeners. This is only a fraction of the widening audience of podcast listeners.
Statistics demonstrate that podcasts are becoming more impactful among listeners and advertisers. Podcasts offer a platform to communicate marketing and brand messaging to a bourgeoning audience. As listeners grow, space for advertising also grows, creating a new and unique platform to familiarize listeners with brands.