Podcasting comes of age: What’s behind a recent boom
It's not young people who are driving up numbers for podcasts
March 24, 2017
By the editors of Media Life
Podcasting has been around for more than a decade, but we still tend to think of it as a new technology. Like any new technology, you’d expect that its growth would be driven by Millennials and Generation Z, who are drawn to technology like moths to flames.
But surprise – podcasting’s seeing growth thanks to an older demographic.
It found that podcast listening has grown to new heights, with 40 percent saying they’ve listened to a podcast, up from 36 percent the previous year and an all-time high. It’s more than three times the 13 percent who said they’d listened a decade ago.
That marked the biggest year-to-year gain since 2011 to 2012.
The growth isn’t surprising in and of itself, though, since podcasting has risen steadily over the past decade. The surprise is who’s behind the gains.
The study found that the biggest year-to-year increase came among adults 25-54, 31 percent of whom said they’d listened to a podcast in the previous month, compared to just 24 percent the previous year.
Listenership in the demo has nearly doubled since 2013.
By contrast, podcast listening stagnated among 12-24s, where it remained flat to the previous year at 27 percent.
That means not only did 25-54s grow faster, but they now also represent the biggest fans of podcasting.
Listening among older adults, those over 55, remains relatively low, at 12 percent, up a tenth from the previous year.
One buyer says it makes sense that slightly older people would be drawn to the format. Millennials, she says, are not interested in talk radio, and podcasting is basically another form of talk.
Plus, she notes that the on-demand format of podcasting appeals to the slightly older demo.
“Podcasting is a form of time-shifting. In the past, time-shifting mechanisms have been very successful – e.g., answering machines then voicemail, VCRs then DVRs, and on-demand TV,” she says.
Listening to the entire podcast
Another interesting finding in the study is that the vast majority of listeners either finish each podcast or make it near the end.
Why is this significant?
For advertising, of course. This means most people are hearing the ad messages buyers purchase for their clients, which could help boost spending, says Glenn Rubenstein, founder of ADOPTER Media, a podcasting advertising agency.
“The No. 1 pushback question from buyers and planners has been, ‘do we know how many people will listen to enough of the podcast to actually hear the ads?’” he says.
“I don’t think anyone in the podcast industry would have predicted that the percentage was so high. This is further evidence of why this medium works so well for sponsors, and it helps justify our higher CPMs because of audience engagement.”
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