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Podcasters Dethrone Social Influencers, Magna-Vox Study Finds.

Looks like Paris Hilton, the high priestess of social influencers, is a lot savvier about media and marketing than her public persona lets on. Hilton is now a podcast producer and said recently she likes audio more than TV. Now there is new study that backs up how the growing popularity of podcasts is making it much more of a force to be reckoned with, with researchers concluding podcasters are becoming deeply entrenched in the cultural zeitgeist.

Magna’s Media Trials unit joined forces with Vox Media to explore what is it about podcasts that resonates with people. The result is research that reveals that podcasters are so impactful in the lives of their listeners. Three-quarters (75%) say they value podcasters’ influence more than they value the sway of social media influencers (15%) and TV/movie celebrities (10%). It means podcasters have effectively dethroned the original influencers.

The report concludes that is most likely because podcasts fill a void that other media formats simply cannot. For example, listeners say podcasts offer more in-depth information (50%) and exposure to current topics (48%), compared to other media formats like social media or video apps like TikTok. In fact, the study finds nearly eight in ten (79%) people see podcasts as being superior to content on social media. Roughly the same number (82%) say podcasts have had a positive impact on their lives, and 80% feel like a friend with fellow listeners.

“By its nature, listening to podcasts is one of the more intimate media experiences and it stands to reason that people will form strong attachments with their favorite hosts,” Vox Senior VP Edwin Wong said. “But we were surprised at the deep level of connection and trust that listeners feel for their favorite hosts.”

The research shows just how deep that personal connection goes. Nearly three in four (72%) people surveyed say they listen to podcasts for self-actualization, including such things as personal growth and self-improvement, motivation, inspiration, connecting with their own identity, and connecting with topics they are passionate about. The results are even higher among heavy podcast listeners.

The result is 88% of podcast listeners consider the time they spend listening to their favorite podcasters as meaningful. And 73% say it’s critical for them to get in listening time each week with their favorite podcasters, while 68% say they have a deep connection with their favorite host.

Podcasting’s influence is something Magna and Vox say their research shows directly translates into a more memorable and effective ad experience. The data shows over two in three listeners say they pay more attention to podcast ads than ads they come across elsewhere, including TV and social media. And across genres, podcast ads are perceived as highly effective in both generating brand awareness and driving purchase intent.

“That podcasters have more clout than social media influencers and mainstream celebrities leads to a paradigm shift in thinking about who is the best endorser for properly aligned brands,” Wong said.

The study finds podcasters’ influence extends to advertising and purchase decisions. A majority 51% say they have been persuaded by a podcast ad to buy or try a product. And that impact is even greater among Millennials, 70% of whom say they have been persuaded to purchase by a podcast ad. Beyond driving purchases, podcast ads are highly effective in introducing new products or services to listeners as 77% credit the format for exposing them to something new.

The report finds listeners prefer more “high impact” and “substantive” podcast ad formats. Their top pick for ad format is an entire episode sponsored by a single brand, followed by ads that offer a lot of useful information about the product. The research also shows brands should not shy away from sharing descriptive information in their podcast ads.

Although podcasts present fewer barriers to purchase compared to other media formats, the report concludes there are still many opportunities for brands to improve the purchase experience for listeners.

“Advertisers have a great opportunity to forge close relationships with consumers by joining forces with a podcaster whose content, personality and point-of-view align with the audiences they are trying to reach,” Magna Executive VP Kara Manatt said. “Often, barriers to purchase are lower than other media formats and there are opportunities to catch a rising media personality at the start and be a part of a dynamic sponsor/host/consumer bond.”

The study was conducted by Magna, which conducted focus groups with individuals across the U.S., as well as surveying 2,028 people online. Download the report HERE.

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