The What, Why, When, and How of Podcast Listening in 2023
Survey Says: Podcast listeners are tuning in more than ever. Here's what brands need to know about the podcast advertising opportunity in 2023.
Last year, we saw a 61% increase in podcast content downloads and a 69% increase in unique listeners on Simplecast.1 So, there’s no question this medium is wildly popular with audiences. But increases in consumption don’t tell brands everything they need to know about podcasting and what it can do for their campaigns.
To answer your questions about podcast listeners in 2023, we launched a Podsurvey study.2 We asked our podcast listeners key questions to help brands better understand the audience and the opportunity. Let get into the results.3
What are podcast fans listening to?
Short answer: Every kind of podcast there is.
That said, there are some clear winners. When we asked our podcast listeners which categories they listen to, the traditional top three featured high on the list: comedy, news & politics, and true crime. And there were some other genres climbing the charts, like society & culture and TV & film.
There’s more to podcast tastes than genre. From show format, to length, to release schedule, there are a lot of variances in shows even in the same category. When we asked our podcast listeners what types of shows they’re interested in, conversational/co-hosted, long-form, and mini-series or limited-release scored high.
Answer for Advertisers: There isn’t one type of show that podcast listeners are tuning into. So, podcast advertising strategies should incorporate a variety of buy types to reach listeners. Combining show, category, and inventory-level buys while scaling across a podcast network is a great way to consistently reach audiences.
Why are audiences listening to podcasts?
Short answer: 90% want to be entertained.
But how people define what’s entertaining is personal. For many, podcasts are a way to educate themselves, pass the time, improve their mood, or discover diverse perspectives and opinions.
Nearly two-thirds of our podcast listeners say that podcasts serve as a companion of other daily activities (62%). But their love for the medium goes deeper than distraction during everyday activities, with over four in five saying they would miss their favorite show if it were no longer available and nearly two in three saying they feel a personal connection to the hosts.
Answer for Advertisers: Podcasts aren’t just another form of entertainment through which brands can reach audiences. Listeners are deeply engaged, finding personal satisfaction and deep connection, which makes the medium a powerful vehicle for brand messages.
When did podcast fans start listening?
Short answer: A decade ago and yesterday, depending on who you ask.
Last year, we walked you through the differences between newer and older podcast listeners. The 2023 net-net is that podcasts are still popular with long-time listeners, and new listeners are discovering the medium every day.
Answer for Advertisers: Podcasts listeners aren’t going anywhere, and the numbers continue to go up. For most audiences, listening is a long-time habit and a part of their daily routine, making podcast advertising an excellent way for brands to reach consumers often.
How often do they listen to podcasts?
Short answer: On the reg.
The vast majority of podcast listeners tune in weekly or daily, and they’re not just tuning into the long-standing shows or old favorites. Our podcast listeners are still discovering new content to indulge in regularly.
Answer for Advertisers: If you want to reach your target consumers, there’s a good chance they’re listening to a podcast—right now. Podcasts draw loyal listeners who just can’t get enough of the medium. And because they’re always looking for new shows, advertising across a network is the way to reach them as they’re discovering new podcasts.
What’s in podcast advertising for brands?
Short answer: Highly engaged audiences who understand that ads keep the mics rolling on their favorite podcasts.
From host-read or announcer-read to pre-, mid-, or post-roll—93% of podcast listeners are open to hearing ANY type of ad. And 59% say they’re likely to pay attention to podcast ads.
Attention is an entry point, but brands are looking for action. And podcasts deliver—93% of podcast listeners have taken ANY action after hearing a podcast ad. From researching the products advertised to making a purchase (and everything in between), podcast listeners are motivated by podcast ads.
Answer for Advertisers: Podcast advertising can help brands maximize their ad budgets. Listeners are open to advertisements, paying more attention to podcast ads than those run on other media. And, most importantly, they’re taking action after hearing them. So, no matter the campaign goal, podcasts can help brands reach it.
And now, who is the podcast listener in 2023?
Short answer: There isn’t just one.
We saved this question for last because there isn’t a quick, easy answer. Who they are and what they want from advertisers is as diverse as the content they consume. That’s why this year’s podcast trends report is all about the who’s who, taking you on a deep dive into three distinct personas for five of the biggest podcast genres.
Answer for Advertiser: Check out The Who's Who of Podcast Listening.
1. Simplecast internal data
2. Podsurvey is the podcast industry's largest and longest-running research panel. We survey our SiriusXM Podcast Network listeners on a rolling basis, providing in-depth listener demographics that you can’t get anywhere else. The panel consists of highly engaged and largely veteran podcast listeners.
3. Podsurvey Podcast User Study, Q2 2023; Base: Podcast Listeners A18+. n=2,642