As of 2019, there were over 1 million podcasts available to consumers across a number of platforms, including Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Podbean, and Spotify. [i] It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in fantasy football, economics, true crime, girl power, or wine varietals – if you have an interest in it, there’s probably a podcast about it.
As of 2020, 55% of consumers listen to audio podcasts in the US. That’s up from 33% just five years ago.[ii]Millennials are the most interested in podcasts, with 44% of respondents listening to episodes weekly – compare this with 22% of Baby Boomers listening on a weekly basis.[iii]
In 2019, the highest earning podcasts worldwide were:
It’s pretty clear that podcasts are lucrative and appealing to a wide variety of audiences. It is perhaps their niche nature that makes them such a great opportunity for marketers. All of the work put into selecting a target audience and researching the best ways to reach them – podcasters do it for you.
Say you’re launching a new baby formula. You want to reach new moms in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Ideally, this mom works from home or has a job where she can listen to podcasts while she works. How do you reach her? You don’t have to look any further than The Longest Shortest Time with Hillary Frank – a long-running podcast about the realities of returning to work after maternity leave, interviews with famous moms, and the sometimes-difficult truths about being a mother today. In fact, The Tot has a list of the best podcasts for parents, accessed easily with one brief Google search.[v]
Because podcasts are auditory in nature, listeners tend to hang on to every word. This means that they’re more likely to absorb the content you’re promoting. It also helps when the hosts of the podcast are the ones promoting products during their commercial breaks. For example, Kilgariff and Hardstark of My Favorite Murder promote a variety of products on their show, including thredUP, BetterHelp, Madison Reed, and Hello Fresh – just to name a few.[vi]
Consumer are also less likely to skip through advertisements for fear of missing parts of the show. This means that while listeners of more traditional media like radio might change the channel during advertisements, podcast listeners won’t. They won’t even fast forward like they might during a recorded TV episode.
In addition, dedicated fans often feel like they know the hosts of their favorite podcasts. The medium itself can give the listener a sense that they’re just hanging out with a few close friends. In fact, some podcasts specifically aim to create that feeling. Sis & Tell with Amanda Goldstein Marks and Alison Goldstein Lebovitz allows listeners to eavesdrop on the sisters’ phone conversations – literally.
“The gist of the show is that people are supposed to feel like they’re eavesdropping on our conversations, and so if they’re entertained and they feel a little icky then we’ve done our job,” said Lebovitz in an interview with Forbes.[vii] Friends of Lebovitz have said that they feel like they know her almost too well now.
That sense of familiarity can be a great thing for marketers. 83% of consumers completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family,[viii] so when podcasters start to feel like friends, their listeners are more likely to take their recommendations.
Of course, with the ongoing lockdowns in response to the coronavirus, you might expect podcast streaming to increase. However, streaming decreased steadily during the first two months of quarantining, only beginning to inch back up during week 9.[ix] Does this mean that advertisers should shy away from podcasting? Not necessarily.
Media consumption is steadily increasing, and many people have more free time on their hands than they know what to do with, and media producers know that. Podcast networks are even cross-advertising on radio stations.[x] It may be just a matter of time until listeners start to think of their favorite podcasters as a substitute for the social interaction they desperately crave during a time when social distancing is paramount.
Questions for Marketing Managers to Consider:
- Are podcasts going to render radio shows irrelevant? Should marketers shift their radio ad budgets towards podcasts instead?
- How would you go about finding the right podcast to advertise your product or service?
- Are podcasts just a fad or are they truly worth investing in?
- How can relationships between podcasters and promoters be mutually beneficial?