Report: Higher Income Adults Drive Podcasting Growth

Report: Higher Income Adults Drive Podcasting Growth

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What makes podcast listeners so loyal to the brands that advertise on their favorite shows, and how does that sense of loyalty translate to real world sales? Those were just a few of the questions asked by the customer experience platform DISQO in its new report, released last week. As the podcast landscape evolves, brands and agencies are looking closer at the customer experiences within top podcasting platforms, including listeners’ experience with ads, and evaluating their campaign strategies. By understanding consumer sentiment and behavior, tagencies can identify optimal advertising opportunities sooner, and higher returns can be achieved.

In advance of the IAB Podcast Upfronts, DISQO looked specifically at who today’s podcast listeners are, what they’re doing while they’re listening, how they discover new content, which platforms they prefer, and what they think of advertising on podcasts. Researchers also tapped into the behavioral data of podcast listeners to understand the medium’s growth over the last year.

What did they find? 

For the most part, podcast listeners tend to be young, male, and highly educated, with higher than average incomes.They trust their friends and family, as well as social media, to recommend new podcast content, but they also get recommendations from the platforms they use to stream their podcasts. 

Forty-five percent of podcast listeners say they pay more attention to podcast ads as compared to other mediums, and just 23% say they pay less attention.

Survey data shows platform visitation grew most strongly at the highest levels of income, reinforcing existing biases in podcast engagement. High-income adults are 8 points higher on platform engagement overall.

“The unique allure of podcast marketing is its contextualized nature and personal touch, so brands should steer towards this differentiation rather than trying to save costs by putting uncontextualized ads on a plethora of properties,” says Patrick Egan, director of research and insights at DISQO.

From a platform and episode perspective, Egan says investing across multiple properties provides brands and agencies with the ability to hedge against external factors, like subscription costs, topical interest changes, or host-led PR disasters — any of which could undermine ad performance. 

“Like social media advertising, brands need to think of hosts like they would any other large-scale influencer, and give that entity the resources to rep their brand without constraining their creativity,” says Egan.

One data point in the survey that surprised Egan was the relationship between podcast listening frequency and attention paid to the ads. More frequent listeners — those who listen daily — reported paying much closer attention to podcast ads than those who listen less frequently. 

“It’s a 25-point difference there, which is just huge,” Egan says. “I could have hypothesized that frequent listeners pay less attention to podcast ads, because they know how to [for example] skip ads, or multitask during the ads, or just do some ‘I’ll get back to this when the commercial is over’ behavior. But we see that attention is hugely related to listening frequency, which just reinforces the power of this channel. You’ve got a captive, daily or weekly audience who has a strong relationship to the podcasting host, and when that host starts talking about brand partners, people are paying close attention.”

Somewhat less surprising to Egan was the strong match between DISQO’s survey data and existing behavioral data about podcast listeners. He says DISQO’s ability to triangulate stories about platform usage by demographics and growth trends across a wide array of platforms will still come as a positive surprise to many agencies and brand advertisers.

“With diverse partnerships, contextualized host-driven ads, and solid product-platform fit, podcast ads have clear potential to outperform other channels from a spend-efficiency standpoint,” Egan says. “Sentiment for these ads is more positive than we often see in other channels, and attention is a little higher because you have a more captive audience from a sensory perspective.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.