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Year In Audio Research Tracks Podcast’s Growth, Radio’s In-Car Role, And The Rise Of Mobile.

Broadcast radio’s continued dominance in the dashboard and the growth of podcast listening were among the biggest findings released this year by Edison Research. The firm’s annual walk back through a year of research also touches on Edison’s work in social media and elections.

Edison’s top finding this year related to podcast advertising and how the reach of on-demand audio is dominated by the top shows, even though podcasts now numbers in the millions. Edison found if an advertiser bought all top ten podcasts they would reach a third of all weekly podcast listeners. And if the next 15 shows were added to the buy, it would allow a marketer to reach 44% of weekly podcast listeners.

“From that point forward, you really have to buy a lot of shows to gain incremental reach,” said Edison Research President Larry Rosin on a webinar. In fact an advertiser would need to buy all top 100 shows to get up to 59% reach. And it would take another 400 shows to move up to 75% reach. Rosin said that it does not mean advertisers should ignore smaller shows, however. “Some of those smaller shows can be very useful in targeting specific types of listeners that aligned with specific types of brands,” he said.

Edison placed two other podcast findings in its top ten, including the rise of podcast listening. “Monthly podcast consumption is strong and consistent, both here in the US, as well as across the world,” said VP Nicole Beniamini. Edison says 38% of Americans aged 12+ listen to a podcast each month, or more than 100 million people.

“This year's percentage is down a little bit from the spike we saw in 2021, which we believe was likely due to quarantine restrictions, and more time spent at home,” said Beniamini. “But in 2022, most of us returned back to work, back to school, and mostly returning to a pre-pandemic routine.”

The top ten also touched on the rise of Latino podcast listeners, which Edison found are more likely to have purchased a product as a result of hearing an advertisement on a podcast. Edison said two-thirds of U.S. Hispanics listen to podcasts monthly, up from 62% last year.

The connection women podcast listeners have with social media is also one of its biggest findings this year. Edison’s debut Women’s Podcast Report showed 56% of female monthly podcast listeners have followed a podcast on social media, 51% have followed a host of a podcast on social media, and 40% have shared a podcast on social media.

Edison VP Megan Lazovick said women are looking for more content from hosts and connecting with other listeners. “This speaks to the value that listeners place on their favorite podcasts and the power and influence of their favorite hosts—and also to the power and influence of women listeners themselves,” Lazovick said.

Beyond podcasting, Edison this year revealed Gen Z represents the biggest growth for share of spoken word audio listening. In 2022, listeners aged 13+ spend 29% of their total audio time with spoken word content.

For all that has changed, Edison says AM/FM radio continued to “dominate” in-car listening this year with a majority 58% of in-car audio time spent with traditional radio. That is more than double the 21% for mobile devices. Edison’s Karina Farias-Dey said Gen Zs spend 43% of their in-car audio time listening through a mobile device, which is about twice the average for those aged 13+, but traditional AM/FM radio receivers narrowly take the top spot for in-car listening device at 48%.

“If you're listening to any audio in a car, there's a good chance you're listening through a radio receiver,” Farias-Dey said.

While AM/FM does well in cars, Edison says overall, Americans’ time spent listening to audio through a mobile device this year surpassed the time spent listening through a traditional radio receiver for the first time. Director of Research Laura Ivey said that is a function of the steady growth of mobile devices and a decline in the time spent with traditional radio receivers. And she says that could have broader implications in the years to come.

“The devices we choose for listening influenced the type of audio we consume,” Ivey said. “Keep in mind that radio receivers provide a single source of audio, radio and mobile devices or multimedia devices [are] providing audio content from many sources. So this marks a monumental shift in the way we consume audio.”

Among the other findings in Edison’s year-ender: the growth in use of voice technology; a majority of moms with kids on social media think their kids spend too much time with it: and even voters who didn’t give President Biden high marks still voted for Democrats in November.

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