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Podcast awareness and popularity are both on the rise, with a recent study suggesting that 64% of respondents ages 12 and older are familiar with the term “podcasting,” up from 49% three years ago. A new report from Nielsen [download page] indicates that as more adults listen to podcasts, smartphones are emerging as the primary device for engagement.

And that engagement is also climbing: 16 million homes in Fall 2017 could be classified as “avid podcast fans,” up from 13 million in the Fall of 2016.

All told, an estimated 23.9 million US adults last year listened to a podcast on a smartphone during the month prior to the survey from which the estimates were derived.

That was more than the estimated audience on computers (10.4 million), tablets (5 million) and other devices (1.7 million) combined.

In fact, the smartphone podcast audience has been on a rapid rise of late: the 23.9 million adults listening last year represented a more than 40% year-over-year increase (from 17 million), and a 157% increase from 2014, when more adults listened on a computer (9.5 million) than on a smartphone (9.3 million).

Interestingly, the smartphone podcast audience tends to skew towards iPhones. Whereas iPhone users represent a minority 42% of all smartphone users, they constitute a majority (54%) of podcast listeners.

Podcasts Influence Purchase Behavior

As part of its report – A Marketer’s Guide to Podcasting – Nielsen included some data on the effectiveness of brand advertising in podcasts. It found a lift in purchase intent that equaled:

  • 14% for brands advertising in Business podcasts;
  • 12.8% for brands advertising in News & Politics podcasts;
  • 9.3% for brands advertising in Sports podcasts;
  • 9.2% for brands advertising in Society & Culture podcasts; and
  • 7.3% for brands advertising in Comedy podcasts.

These figures are derived from a 2017 survey of 7,000 podcast listeners ages 18-49, who were asked to score their likelihood to purchase a product or service from a variety of advertisers, both before and after listening to podcast ads.

Nielsen sees the potential for podcasts to drive purchase behavior for CPG brands, noting that avid podcast fans spend more annually than the average consumer for household staples such as juice (+8.8%), milk (+10.3%), and cereal (+13.4%).

Previously-released data from Nielsen indicates that podcast ads outperform traditional pre-roll video ads, and that host-read ads perform best with podcast listeners.

The latest study from Nielsen is available for download here.

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