Ad buyers are more data-driven than ever, and so the takeaway from new YouGov numbers about podcasting could not be clearer. “If your audience is under 50, podcasts should definitely be in consideration for your media mix for advertising or content distribution,” says YouGov Sector Head of Agencies & Media Tamara Alesi, based on its survey of podcast listeners.
YouGov’s annual tracking survey finds that between 2019 and 2020, the share of podcast listeners and frequency of listening increased across all age groups. And it says 50% or more of adults under the age of 50 – and 43% of U.S. adults overall – are listening to podcasts.
Among those surveyed, YouGov says one in four listens to podcasts at least monthly. One in five listens weekly. And six percent listen daily. On average, adults listen to 1.9 hours of podcast content per week. “Listeners are tuning in – and with greater frequency – which opens the doors for marketers to not just tell a story but create a relationship when listeners are actively listening,” says Alesi.
The report also shows that overall, the number of podcast listeners grew by 18% between December 2019 and December 2020 while the average time spent listening to podcasts remained steady year-to-year. YouGov points out that in comparison both audience size and time spent watching streamed video increased.
The biggest reasons for listening to podcasts are to either learn something new or keep up with current affairs. But entertainment is also a high-scoring consideration, mentioned by four in ten surveyed. And a quarter said they use podcasts to help them relax. In a sign of how the pandemic has brought some new listeners to podcasting, YouGov says 15% said they listen to podcasts to kill time. That compares to 13% who said that in 2019.
YouGov says it saw “no dramatic shifts” in when people were listening to podcasts because of COVID-19 beyond a “slight decline” in listening while commuting (29% to 27%) and a “slight increase” to listening while cooking or baking (17% to 21%). The most common activity done during a podcast listening occasion is household chores, mentioned by a third of those surveyed.
“Unlike traditional radio, which is predominantly listened to in the car, podcasts are listened to as much at home as when out and about,” Alesi says.
A separate YouGov survey released last June found eight in ten said it was “not very likely” or “not at all likely” that they would pay or donate to access or listen to a podcast in the next year. Just two in ten said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to do so.