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Audio Streaming And Podcasts' Growth Suggest Ad Budget Adjustments.

Two key audio trends that jump out in Edison Research's recently-released 2023 Infinite Dial suggest a larger advertising budget allocation to both audio streaming and podcasts, based on growth over the past five or six years.

An analysis of these trends in Westwood One's weekly blog shows that for audio streaming, both those reporting listening in the last month and last week have increased significantly since 2018, the former from 64% to 73% and the latter from 57% to 70%. Additionally, the proportion of the monthly audience also listening weekly has gone from 89% to 93% in the same time frame. “Basically, people are absolutely in the habit of listening to audio streaming, and virtually everybody that's listened last month has listened last week,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says.

Westwood One's analysis shows that while this has happened, AM/FM streaming's share of total AM/FM listening among persons 25-54 doubled from 10% to 20%, according to Edison's “Share of Ear” tracking study. Put another way, that's one of every five minutes of AM/FM listening from streaming, with AM/FM streaming audiences now larger than the ad-supported audiences of Pandora and Spotify combined. “[That growth] may be [due] to the pandemic, and having people work at home and wanting to listen to their favorite radio station on their laptop or mobile phone,” Bouvard notes.

The trend suggests that marketers should consider an 80/20 budget split between over-the-air AM/FM radio and the AM/FM radio stream, respectively. “In terms of your media buys for AM/FM radio, follow the audience,” Bouvard recommends. “There should be [this] split between your budgets for over the air vs. the AM/FM stream because that's where the audience is shaking out, especially for 25-54s.”

Growth in podcast listening also warrants advertiser attention, based on Infinite Dial's reported trends. Since 2017, podcast familiarity among persons 12+ has moved from 60% to 83%, while those ever listening has increased 60%, with monthly and weekly listening up 75% and 107%, and share of monthly listeners also doing so weekly up to 74%.

“[There's] a lot of growth in the future for American podcasting,” Bouvard says. “If the habituation trend follows, and it becomes like audio streaming, where you have virtually everyone that listens last month listening last week, that 31% weekly audience could jump up into the mid-40s, even if we didn't have a lot more new monthly listeners.”

Given these gains, the blog suggests that while podcasting may be in a different growth phase than streaming, it should still play a larger role in media plans. “It's no longer a niche platform,” Bouvard says. “When you look at Share of Ear, you can see in younger demographics like 18-34 and 18-49, there are significant mass reach numbers for podcasting. The scale is there, the measurement is there, the attribution is there, brandless measurement is there. [It's] everything a marketer would want.”

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