4 Key Learnings & Opportunities for Podcast Advertisers

Exclusive research from SXM Media, Publicis Media, and Signal Hill Insights

Melissa Paris

The Podcast Consumer Journey

While podcasting has been steadily growing for many years now, over the past few years in particular, it has attracted hordes of new listeners, a class of new advertisers, and countless celebrity hosts and content creators to join in on the fun.

As the spotlight shines even brighter on podcasts and the market continues to evolve, it’s crucial for brands to understand how the audience has shifted and what the landscape looks like now. Through an exclusive research study we conducted with Signal Hill Insights, in partnership with Publicis Media, we set out to better understand the podcast listener journey by focusing on three key areas:

  1. Uncover the differences between listener types based on how long they’ve been listening

  2. Learn about their affinities and the drivers for discovering and consuming podcasts

  3. Explore their receptivity to and perceptions of podcast advertising

We accomplished this through an in-depth, nationally representative survey of 1,500 podcast listeners who have listened in the past month. Let’s dig into the four key findings from this study, and what these learnings mean for savvy marketers.

1. New Podcast Listeners Look Different

FINDING 1: The latest arrivals to podcast listening (those who started listening in the past year) are younger, more female, and more diverse than seasoned vets (those who started listening 6+ years ago), shifting the demographic makeup of the overall audience.

OPPORTUNITY: What does this mean for brands? They may have an image in their mind of what a podcast listener is like based on outdated information and incorrectly assume that podcasts aren’t where their consumers are. The truth is that brands can now effectively reach virtually any target audience through podcasts, across a spectrum of ages, genders, ethnicities, income levels, and more.

2. Newer Listeners Have Different Habits

FINDING 2: Podcast preferences and discovery habits may differ between new and veteran listeners, but at the core of their love for the medium is rooted in great stories and engaging hosts. Newer listeners over-index for naming celebrity conversation, fiction/audio dramas, and religion and spirituality among their favorite genres, while seasoned vets over-index for naming comedy, news/politics, sports, and science and technology.

When it comes to finding their next podcast to obsess on, seasoned vets are 16% more likely to turn to in-app recommendations and 39% more likely to hear about a new podcast on another podcast, while latest arrivals are 23% more likely to turn to friends and family and 13% more likely to hear about podcasts in offline media (e.g., radio, TV).

OPPORTUNITY: Brands can connect and resonate with all types of listeners in this engaging and intimate medium by aligning with any topics of interest across the endless, diverse slate of content available to today’s listeners. Whether a podcast is launching its first episode or is just new to the listener, there is always more great content for podcast fans to discover and for advertisers to partner with.

3. Podcast Listeners Are Receptive to Ads

FINDING 3: Among new and veteran listeners alike, podcast ads are in a class of their own. They stand out compared to all other ad types for being perceived as interesting, informative, relevant, and trustworthy. Likewise, they receive the lowest scores for being intrusive, annoying, or excessive.

OPPORTUNITY: Podcast ads are unmatched in listener sentiment—consumers are uniquely receptive to ads in this environment. Brands should leverage this momentum and utilize podcasts as a crucial part of their media mix.

4. New Listeners Are Receptive to More Ad Types

FINDING 4: Listeners are noticing that podcast ads are changing and new brands are entering the space, and they are embracing this ad evolution. Over half of podcast listeners say they are hearing new types of brands in podcast ads lately, ones that aren’t just sending them to a website. Almost half of listeners are finding that podcast ads are getting more relevant to them. And while host-read ads are still the crown jewel of podcast ads, newer listeners are less attached to them and are more likely than veteran listeners to think that ads read by someone other than the host are a good fit.

OPPORTUNITY: Podcasts aren’t only a direct-response medium or a space for newer or emerging brands. Established brands looking to drive brand health metrics are also seeing incredibly strong results through the medium. Podcast ads can truly deliver across KPIs for brands at every maturity level.

The diversity of podcast audience listenership is starting to reflect the diversity of the United States. This shifting demographic of total audience means that representation and relevance are essential in these environments. Additionally, brands can reach an array of audiences who are more receptive to ads. We saw that Podcast Ads have higher receptivity, enabling advertisers to drive brand consideration and lower funnel tactics and that new, diverse podcast listeners who are just discovering podcasts are just as receptive to ads as veteran listeners.

-Emily Chan, Director of Partnerships, Publicis Media Exchange (PMX)

If podcast ads aren’t already on your radar, now is the time to add them to your mix. And if you need even more insights about the podcast landscape, check out our

2022 Podcast Trends Report!