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Edison On Podcasts: 'Breathtaking' Growth, With Reach Rivaling TV Among Younger Consumers.

Edison Research's 2024 Infinite Dial study shines a spotlight on podcasts, which have shown significant growth over the past seven years, especially among adults 18-34 and 18-49.

The medium's weekly 48% and 46% reach of those respective demographics are now right in the ballpark of live and time-shifted TV, which reaches 50% and 58% according to Nielsen Comparable Metrics for Q3 2024. It should be noted that AM/FM radio tops both, with 77% and 81% reach, respectively.

“It wasn’t that long ago that marketers dismissed podcasts for lacking scale. No longer,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in Westwood One's weekly blog. “It is feasible to consider shifting TV budgets to podcasting given that podcast 18-34 reach performance is as big as TV.”

Edison's data also shows that since 2017, podcasts' monthly reach of women 18+ has lagged behind that of men 18+, although that reach just passed the 40% mark for the first time in 2024, moving within three percentage points of men. Additionally, the share of the monthly female podcast audience that also listens weekly has grown from 58% in 2020 to 71% in 2024. “Brands targeting women should give podcasts a starring role in media plans,” Bouvard suggests, seeing as “podcast female audiences have hit record highs in habituation and reach.”

The blog's analysis takes a deeper dive into Edison's podcast data, looking at persons 12+ over the past eight years of Infinite Dial studies and showing big gains in familiarity with podcasting, the percent of those having ever listened vs. weekly and monthly listening, and the conversion rate of monthly to weekly podcast listeners. “The growth in podcast awareness and listenership over the last eight years has been breathtaking,” Bouvard says. “Podcasting deserves a larger role in media plans as opposed to 'test and learn' experimental buys, [as] Americans are increasingly getting into the podcast habit.”

Taking a page from one-time BBDO media chief Arnie Semsky's “5% solution” during cable TV's infancy, suggesting brands move 5% of their media budgets to the new medium, Bouvard feels the same case can be made for podcasts. “Semsky was prescient,” he says. “His brands hugely benefited from taking an early, bold, and strong position in a growing new medium, a lesson for the marketers of today. All of the growth in audio is now coming from podcasting, [yet] podcasts only represent 1% of total national ad spend, per Guideline’s Standard Media Index reporting. 5% is enough of an allocation to generate meaningful impact.”

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