There may be no shortages of services offering video content, but audio is where Americans are looking to spend more time. The Nielsen 2023 Consumer Survey says one in five (21%) plan to listen to more podcasts in the next six to 12 months, a rate higher than any other media. For those that are already listening, the survey also points to stability as 71% said they plan to make no changes to their podcast habits. Just six percent plan to cut back on podcast listening, which is a smaller number for any media other than broadcast radio – which as an older medium may not be growing like podcasting, but is more stable than any other media option examined by Nielsen. Nearly nine in ten (87%) of people said they plan to keep on tuning to AM/FM radio.
The survey also points to a comfort level with advertising on streaming audio apps. Nielsen says seven percent of people surveyed said they plan to switch to an ad-free premium audio service in the next six to 12 months compared to 10% that said they plan to step up their use of ad-supported streaming audio apps. And among those already using an ad-supported service, eight in ten say they plan to make no changes.
Nielsen also asked consumers how comfortable they are receiving personalized ads during the podcasts they listen to. The results were less clear. Three in ten said they were fine with it, while the same number said it makes them uncomfortable. The remaining 42% had no strong feelings either way. Interestingly, those who engage with lottery/gambling brands are most comfortable with receiving personalized ads with 37% saying they do not mind if they get one while listening to a podcast.
Podcasters have grown concerned about ad loads in recent years as more brands have entered the medium. But overall, a majority of Americans say the number of commercials during podcasts is about right. Nielsen says 55% of people surveyed say the ad loads seem appropriate to them. And while 11% say that there are far too many ads, that is considerably less than any other media.
Nearly four in ten (38%) of those surveyed feel that broadcast radio has an “appropriate” number of advertisements, with only 25% saying radio has “far too many” advertisements. On the other end, 39% feel that paid TV (traditional cable or satellite) has far too many advertisements and 36% feel that free local TV stations run too many ads.
Eight percent of people surveyed said that podcasts have too few ads, a figure that likely reflects the connection that many listeners have with the shows they consume as demonstrated by earlier research that has revealed podcast listeners are highly likely to support brands that advertise on their favorite shows.
The result is Nielsen finds that nearly three in ten (28%) of podcast listeners rarely or never take actions to avoid listening to commercials during a podcast episode. That compares to 23% that always skip ads or 26% that do most of the time. Podcasting’s ad-skipping rates are on par with audio streaming overall, with only AM/FM showing people least likely to take steps to avoid hearing a commercial.
There are some noteworthy insights from Nielsen, including two-thirds (65%) of consumers who engage with banks and brokerage firms are most likely to unsubscribe to a podcast channel due to the number of advertisements, followed by users of phone and internet providers (59%), consumer electronics and software (53%), and consumer packaged goods (50%).
The Nielsen 2023 Consumer Survey, which polled 3,000 U.S.-based consumers aged 18 and older earlier this year, finds that influencer marketing like podcast host-read ads can help brands break through the noise. A significant portion of consumers (59%) report that they are equally or more inclined to buy products endorsed by influencers they follow, underscoring the critical role of influencers in maintaining consumer engagement during economic challenges.
“With rising inflation concerns and a growing number of consumers avoiding ads, it’s imperative that marketers focus on the most impactful campaigns,” Nielsen VP Arica McKinnon, says. “To address these concerns, marketers should look to leverage influencer networks and personalized marketing tactics, while also taking into account consumer behavior, to optimize messages and campaigns that resonate.”
Download a copy of the Nielsen 2023 Consumer Survey report HERE.