At the beginning of the pandemic, analysts predicted that podcasts would decrease in popularity without work commutes. But in reality, remote work only temporarily affected podcast listenership. By May, podcasts were proving resilient.
This caused podcast advertising to surge. As podcast audiences grow and become more diversified, how will advertisers incorporate podcasts in their media mix?
How popular are podcasts, really?
Right as COVID-19 was hitting the States, Edison Research reported that 2020 numbers were in line with the continued growth they’ve seen over the past 11 years. 37% of Americans, aged 12 and up, were monthly podcast listeners. And even though podcast listenership dropped in March and April, listenership returned to normal levels, if not higher, by Memorial day.
With over a million podcasts available, it’s no wonder podcast listenership is so high. Audiences have a wide variety of niche content at their disposable, meaning there’s something for everyone.
Podcasts have become so widespread that notable brands including Amazon, Apple, Spotify, and even Twitter want in on the action—and are more than willing to pay to stay ahead of the crowd.
Podcast Advertising Predictions
We expect to see a 10-15% increase in podcast-based advertising spend in 2021. This prediction is based on three trends seen in the podcast industry.
Major Backing in Podcasting
Last year, several notable brands invested heavily in podcasting.
Amazon acquired Wondery, a premier podcast network, in December 2020 and Spotify acquired podcast hosting technology company, Megaphone, in November 2020 (after buying Gimlet in early 2019). Apple is working on adding a subscription service to their podcast offerings this year, and even Twitter has jumped in the game, recently buying the struggling “social podcasting” app Breaker.
With these large companies battling it out in their podcasting investments, we expect to see them evangelize and market to their millions of existing customers—creating a more diverse selection of high-quality podcasts.
Podcast Advertising Works
Another reason we expect brands to invest more into podcast-based advertising is that it works.
MediaRadar data shows that podcasting advertiser renewal rates are rising, suggesting a positive ROI. Additionally, the number of advertisers placing ads in podcasts rises each sequential quarter. For example, there were almost 6,000 podcast advertisers in the Top 500 podcasts last year, up from 5,154 in 2019.
Audience Podcast Usage is Increasing
Podcast audiences have been listening to their favorite episodes more and more. 2020 was the fifth consecutive year in which average listening time increased.
In fact, Edison Research reports that average listening time is 6.5 hours per week.
The sheer amount of content available—much of it backed by brands with deep pockets —will likely drive even more engaged listening. With audiences attracted to high-quality content that fits their interests, advertisers have tremendous opportunity to reach their target customers.
There are nearly 6,000 brands that already advertise across podcasts, and we expect to see this number increase in 2021.
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