There is no doubt that podcast listening is enjoying a bit of a resurgence. It is estimated that over 98 million will tune in this year, about 21% of all Americans each month. Not only is it a large quantity of people, but it is an attractive audience that a lot of brands want to reach - highly educated with higher household income and ethnically diverse. And yes podcast listening does over-index among millennials (A18-34).
Beyond these reasons, this is a desirable audience because they are an engaged audience. They've "leaned in" - accessing the episodes on-demand often within 48-hours of downloading them (at least for NPR - one of the most popular podcast providers). Also, this audience actually prefers this type of digital advertising with many of them not skipping ads even though it is extremely easy to do so. This is likely due to the seamless integration into the shows, the endorsement-like nature of the hosts and the low ad loads.
Why is podcasting experiencing such a boom now - more than a decade since the first Apple iPod hit the market? Lots of opinions on this, but the poliferation of smartphones certainly helps. Another reason is the high-quality content being produced recently - the most popular being This American Life's Serial podcast which debuted in the fall of 2014. The true crime recounting of a 1999 trial told week-by-week was widely successful with millions of weekly listeners as well as plenty of media buzz. Malcolm Gladwell is joining the fray with a new podcast released this month called Revisionist History.
Why is this a Good Media Idea? Besides being a highly-engaged audience with desirable demographic stats, it is also an uncluttered environment. There are usually one to two sponsors total per episode and only a few commercial pods. Plus, the commercials integrate very seamlessly within the episodes: enhancing the content and experience of the listener. If everyone does their job right, the ad is usually about a product or service that the listener needs so they appreciate learning about it and don't feel interrupted. And for advertisers that get in now while it's still on the way up, it is an effecient way to reach this attractive audience with fairly low CPMs.
Brands it works for: We think there is definitely application among B2B brands - like SaaS, financial and anyone that wants to reach small businesses or entrepreneurs. This podcast-listening audience is also very tech-savvy so sponsorship by a technology brand is a slam dunk. There is some application for consumer brands too; it's all about marrying the advertiser with proper content.
We are evaluating this opportunity for a few of our clients - and keeping an eye on the new tracking mechanisms that research companies are rolling out for this hot tactic. In the meantime, what good media ideas have you seen? Leave us a comment below to share.
McCulloch+Company is an advertising media services company that integrates the innovation of digital media with the strengths of traditional paths. Founded in 1994 and located in historic Roswell, Georgia, McCulloch+Company is regarded as one of the Southeast's preeminent media agencies. The agency is skilled at managing B2B and B2C clients in a multitude of industry categories.