Research Shows Growing Podcast Reach, And Its Power To Sell For Brands.


The media research company MRI-Simmons is shedding fresh light on who podcast listeners are and, most importantly for advertisers, how impactful ads on the medium continue to be. MRI-Simmons says its survey finds nearly a quarter (23%) of U.S. adults aged 18+ have listened to a podcast during the past seven days. That amounts to a reach of 57 million. While it found the typical podcast listener consumes four episodes a week, spending on average eight hours with podcasts, MRI-Simmons says 14% of those surveyed are considered heavy listeners – tuning in to an average of 11 episodes per week across 16 hours. MRI-Simmons says among the 50 podcasts it asked about, The Joe Rogan Experience was the one more people said they had listened to than any other.


Who are these listeners? Similar to other research, MRI-Simmons finds they tend to be male (61%), younger (median age of 35), more affluent (median income of $117,000), and better educated that the typical American.


“This is really a desirable group – they’re young, they’re male, they’re single, they’re affluent,” said MRI Simmons VP of Consumer Insights Jillian Andersen. On a recent webinar she said they are able to connect the data with the company’s other national studies to find out what leisure activities podcast listeners enjoy to help paint a more complete picture. Podcasting’s young adult fans score high on things like going to the beach, playing board games and video games, and going to bars and clubs. “They’re what you would expect of a young adult,” said Andersen.


In terms of media habits, MRI-Simmons data shows podcast listeners are also more likely to subscribe to Netflix or Hulu and less likely to watch TV. “Podcast listeners are heavy on internet, social media and radio,” said Andersen. When they do watch TV, the data shows they are more likely to watch networks like Comedy Central, BBC America and the NFL Network.


Tech savvy young adults tend to be more open-eyed about the media than previous generations, yet MRI-Simmons says 78% say they feel close to the hosts of the podcasts they consume. And three-quarters report frequently discussing what they heard on an episode.


“They show high levels of engagement not only with the content, but with the hosts,” said Andersen. “So there’s a connection there and also they’re also talking about it with their peers and their family. Two-thirds consider podcasts part of their daily routine so they’ve incorporated it into their lifestyle.” That has big implications for marketers, she said.


“These listeners of podcasts really find advertising on podcasting relevant, useful, and they trust it. They’re more likely to become aware of new products and services from ads on podcasts, they find the information useful about new products and services, they find it relevant to them, they’re more likely to buy products and services, and they trust podcast advertising more than they trust ads on other media – I think that’s really telling,” said Andersen. She said the numbers are even bigger among heavy podcast listeners. “They’re more likely to feel more sentiment toward these attitudes,” she said.


MRI-Simmons says its survey shows one-in-five podcast listeners said they have purchased a product they have heard advertised on a show. Four-in-ten have used the ad as a jumping off point to look for more information about a product, and the same number has considered purchasing a product or service they’ve heard mentioned on a podcast.


Podcast listeners also tend to be big spenders across categories; those who listen to Death, Sex, and Money spend above average on athletic shoes ($125) and apparel ($664) for example. “So really this an ideal group for advertising,” said Andersen.


Even as the COVID impact lingers with less commuting to work than before the pandemic, Andersen said she expects podcast listening to continue to grow.


The survey data was collected between February and March among a national representative sample of 4,700 adults aged 18 and older.

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