Podcast audiences are listening – even to the ads

18 months ago, the standout finding from our first National Podcast Study was the sheer audience size. This year, listener numbers are still climbing steadily (with the latest study showing that 70 million American adults listened to a podcast in the last 30 days), but what really jumps out is the extent to which people are connecting and engaging - not just with the podcasts, but the ads too!

Recall that when DVRs first appeared in our homes, viewers skipped over commercials with gusto and TV advertisers briefly felt an existential crisis. Podcasts, an on-demand format by nature, give users the same chance to skip ads since most media players have a "Skip Ahead " button built-in. According to the data, though, they're not using it: Nearly 62% of listeners report letting the ads play, and 60% are actually gleaning useful information from them. The favorable perception of ads is good, because…

…the ads are working! 57% of listeners say they are likely to buy from a company that sponsors one of their podcasts. Even when podcast ads aren't actively converting to sales, they can still boost brand perception: 57% also have a more favorable opinion of companies that advertise on podcasts. When drilling down to actions taken off of specific ads, nearly 1 in 3 will seek out more product info - quickly moving potential customers down the funnel. 

What is driving this engagement? One likely factor is listeners' connection with program hosts. Over 2/3rds of podcast listeners say they feel close to the personalities on the other side of their headphones. Podcasts foster an intimate setting, making listeners feel that hosts are right there in the room with them. Listeners trust these hosts implicitly, and by extension trust the advertisers whose patronage keeps their favorite shows running.

In 2021, podcasts will be an integral part of any diversified media mix. Brands can find out what shows their prospective customers are most engaged with, and seek out partnership opportunities - or follow that audience to other media they consumer and reach them ther e. To understand today's podcast audiences and where to connect with them, download the MRI-Simmons 2020 Podcast Listener Report.

Want to learn more about the National Podcast study? Contact info.ms@mrisommons.com

Matt Petterson
Matt Petterson
Matt is the Digital Marketing Manager at MRI-Simmons, whose 10+ year career spans both media production and consumer research. He brings data-driven insights to life in any digital medium and helps thought leaders share actionable expertise across multiple platforms.