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Who Listens to Podcasts and How to Reach Them

As the podcast industry grows in popularity, what was once a niche opportunity now offers reach at scale, with more and more smart options for targeting. The core podcast audience are highly desirable consumers who are continuously redefining media consumption behavior, so much so that they are often unreachable on other channels - they use ad-blockers and don’t watch free to air TV. How can you make an impact on this savvy audience and why do they love podcast ads? Which brands are excelling in this space? Read on to find out.


Key podcast audiences


Australian weekly podcast listeners spend an average of seven hours and six minutes per week listening to podcasts, up from five hours in 2021. (Infinite Dial 22) Additionally, 70% of podcast listeners have used ad-blockers in the past and they are three-times more likely to pay for subscription services. This means traditional forms of marketing simply don’t reach them, making podcasting one of the fastest growing mediums marketers are scrambling to use.

Let's delve deeper into who this audience is and their habits.


Edison research did a study on podcast “Super Listeners 21,” (Americans 18+ who listen to five or more hours of podcasts weekly). These insights are also indicative of how behavior will follow in other countries, as the US is the market leader. The study found that:

  • Heavy podcast listeners tend to skew slightly male - 57% were men and 43% female

  • Age groups were fairly even spread across three age groups with 25-35s listening most (27%) from 35-44s (24%) and 45-54’s (20%).

This age spread is exciting news - few other advertising mediums can boast such a broad audience. This means that advertisers looking for a wide broadcast message could appeal to the youth via social media and boomers via radio and TV with separate ads and buys - or they could capture both on podcasts, with one ad and media buy. Furthermore, this audience is likely to not watch free to air TV or commercial radio, adding incremental reach to any campaign.

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The subscription generation


  • 94% of the respondents already have a subscription to any internet-only television streaming service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu, any premium cable channels such as HBO or Showtime, or any live TV streaming service such as Sling TV, DirectTV Now, Hulu With Live TV, or YouTube TV.

  • 76% have audio subscriptions to paid internet-only music streaming service such as Pandora Premium or Spotify, audiobook service such as Audible or to SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The main reason they have a subscription to an audio provider is for more control over their listening content. (Super Listeners 21)


Podcasting reaches a generation of individuals who turn to mobile phones for media consumption and have a desire for on-demand content that aligns closely with their personal perspectives and interests. This means that they are highly engaged in the content - they opted in, rather than being served the content passively. This also means that the ability to reach them is limited - streaming service subscriptions do not offer ads and they frequently use ad-blockers


Diversity


  • Non-white podcast audiences are growing faster than white audiences. Hispanics make up 16% of monthly podcast listeners, compared to 11% in 2017. Blacks now comprise 16% of the audience, up from 12% in 2017 and Asian Americans account for another 3% as the proportion of White listeners has fallen from 66% to 59% during the past five years. (Neilson Podcast Buying Power)


This diversity in audience is exciting, especially when more and more podcast creators are from a range of ethnic backgrounds. These audiences want to hear from trusted voices with similar backgrounds to themselves that have similar interests. Most importantly, the topics need to be inclusive and of interest—from credible sources with original voices. As podcasts more authentically appeal to a wide range of audiences, brands and agencies can track engagement with them and leverage targeted opportunities within their marketing strategies and campaigns.


Podcast ad impact

So now we know that the audiences that listen to podcasts are diverse, media savvy and deliberate in their media consumption. What effect does that have on how they consume ads? Podcasts are immersive and screen-less, meaning that the user tunes in for most or all of the episode, which are often around 40 minutes.


The majority of people (88%) actively reduce distractions before they start listening to a podcast (Ad News).

This focused engagement can mean enhanced memory encoding of the content, including ads. A Spotify study found that 81% of listeners have taken action as a result of listening to audio ads during a podcast.

Here are some further insights from the Super Listeners 21 study:


  • 51% of podcast Super Listeners agree that they pay more attention to ads on podcasts than on other media, up from 48% last year.

  • 53% of podcast Super Listeners agree that their opinion of a company is more positive when it is on a podcast they regularly listen to, up from 49% last year.

  • 50% of podcast Super Listeners agree that advertising on a podcast is the best way for a brand to reach them, up from 49% last year.

  • Over half (56%) of Super Listeners said that hearing an ad on a podcast (compared to other places) makes them more likely to purchase a product, up from 54% last year.


Case Study


How are brands tapping into this medium with success? The Queen Vic Market, an iconic Melbourne institution created host-read pre and mid-roll ads that appeared on podcasts such as Imagined Life, Stories Podcast, Good Life Project and Business Wars. We were able to use some of the most high-profile podcast talents in the world for a highly localised campaign to showcase the benefits of shopping at the much-loved Melbourne market.

The ads were targeted at progressive, inner-urban professionals, and geo-targeted in the market’s catchment areas. When the target audience tunes in, the ads are dynamically inserted, increasing efficiency of the campaign and reducing wastage.

You can listen to the ads here.

With podcast audiences offering a unique and highly coveted group of people who are open to brand messages, it’s easier than ever to harness the power of this highly effective medium.Get in touch with us anytime to explore this further.