CMO Series - The Podcasts Keep Coming

By: Allen Ginsberg  | 08/28/2019

In this month’s installment of our CMO series, Allen Ginsberg continues to offer insight into industry trends and highlights by discussing the rise of podcasts and the impacts these developments are having on consumers and marketers. New to the series? Start from the beginning here! You can find our most recent series article here.


If just fifteen years ago, someone told you that you could have a phone in your pocket, could listen to a program on any topic you could imagine, schedule your listening on your way to work, listen at home, in your car, and for free, who would have believed you?


What’s Old Is New Again

And then came podcasting. In its purest sense, podcasting is radio reimagined. Many of the most popular podcasts are episodic, a form of entertainment that traditional radio has been bringing to listeners since the 1930’s. But now, it is being reinvented around new technology that allows the consumer to have the ultimate listening choice(s).

Podcasting is a relatively new form of media having really come into its own in 2004 with the wide release of broadband. While podcasting hasn’t grown as fast as some other media platforms, it’s still an astonishing story.


It’s Easy To Use

One of the reasons for its fast growth: podcasting is simple and low tech. Over 50% of podcast listening takes place on the Apple platform, with almost 20% on Spotify. Anyone with a phone, tablet or laptop can listen to what they want, when they want, continuing to expand on the self-programming consumers have grown accustomed to via their TV habits driven by platforms such as Netflix and YouTube.

Not surprisingly, consumers also listen on the go. Over 65% listen to a podcast on a mobile device. Only 33% listen to podcasts on their computer.


What’s Popular

A few key facts and figures-- there are over 700,000 podcasts today, with more than 29 million episodes available. That’s a whole lot of content.

The Daily, produced by the New York Times, has been the most popular podcast in 2019. Followed by This American Life, Stuff You Should Know, Up First from NPR and The Ben Shapiro Show as the most popular podcasts currently. In terms of podcast topic popularity, Music is number one, with News, Entertainment, History and Sports rounding out the top five.


Limited Program Interruptions

Aside from many content choices, listeners are also not bombarded with advertising. There are minimal commercial interruptions. Most copy is narrated either as program sponsorship or a break midway through the program known as midroll, which is also usually announcer read copy. Hardly the issue of commercial loads viewers contend with on TV. And while podcasting is not a major force yet with advertisers, spending by sponsors is expected to grow to over $1.6 Billion by 2022.


The Audience Is Big

Lots of people are listening. About 90 million listeners tune in to at least one podcast per month, with over 40 million listening at least once a week. Not surprisingly, since they choose the programs, consumers stay through the whole show with 35% of listeners staying for the entire broadcast. Most podcasts run less than 60 minutes and the average right now is 43 minutes. Podcast seasons tend to be between 5 and 20 episodes long.


Hard to Reach Demo’s

Podcasts attract audiences that can be difficult for marketers to reach. Listeners tend to be educated and relatively wealthier; 45% are likely to have a college degree, and 68% are likely to have a post-graduate degree. They are also more likely to be high net-worth individuals, with a net household income of over $250,000. The audience is split by gender, with men having a slight edge at 52%.


Branded Podcasts

In addition to sponsoring podcasts, many brands are creating their own podcast content as a way to engage with their customers. Examples of this include Trained by Nike that focuses on holistic fitness to trainers and athletes. Apple has a podcast featuring Apple Keynotes, providing video of important announcements, and Blue Apron has a popular podcast called Why We Eat What We Eat. Podcasting can be an efficient and highly targeted way to engage with customers. These podcasts give consumers content that helps them live better lives and makes your brand part of their everyday life.


Certainly, marketers should be considering how to approach and expand podcasting campaigns. With a wide variety of available audience segments and a relatively low cost of entry, podcasting might be a great platform for your upcoming initiatives.



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