Podcast Fans Are The Ultimate Audience For Advertisers

Jan 29th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured Story, Making Money with Podcasts, New Media Organizations, Podcasting Statistics

Podcast fans are a fantastic audience for advertisers to reach, according to a new report from Edison Research and the Association for Downloadable Media (ADM).

Podcast fans are well off financially, they pay attention to ads in podcasts, they’re hard to reach with traditional advertising and they are 6 times as likely to “enjoy” the ads in podcasts as consumers of traditional media.

In other words – people that can afford to turn away from “interruption” style advertising are doing so, and opt-in podcasts are one of the few ways to connect with them.

Highlights of the Podcast Consumer Attitudes study include:

  • Podcast fans are significantly more affluent than general population.
  • Podcast fans are rapidly turning away from traditional media and “interruption” advertising models.
  • 37% of video podcast users and 31% of audio podcast users say they *enjoy* advertising in podcasts. By comparison, only 6% say same of TV and radio.
  • Podcasts confer on their advertisers and sponsors a “halo effect; podcast fans give props to the advertiser for sponsoring a show they like.
  • Over 70% of active podcast listeners are receptive to sponsorship messages in podcasts.

If further research confirms the findings of this survey, podcast fans could prove to be the ultimate audience for many advertisers.

Check out the detail below and let me know what you think. Is it time for advertisers to take another look at podcasts?

In this video, Tom Webster, VP of Strategy and Marketing for Edison Research, presents of the recently completed ADM study of Podcast Consumers Attitudes.

Other highlights of the research:

  • One in five active podcast consumers are actively interested in host-read sponsorship messages. Survey respondents believe that podcast hosts/creators are actual users of the goods and services of their sponsors.
  • Nearly 4/5 of the survey interviewees listen to podcasts every week, but are not as reachable by other “regular” mass media.
  • Podcast fans say it is not just important to be able to “time-shift” their podcast and other media consumption; nearly equally important is the ability to get unique shows [not available outside of podcast medium].
  • 90% of those surveyed prefer advertising supported shows vs. ad-free paid subscriptions.
  • 3/4 of the respondents use iTunes to find and subscribe and 66% have been listening/watching podcasts for 2 years or more

According to Webster, This study is a “self-selected sample of active podcast consumers. The story is not that they represent the mainstream — it’s that they don’t represent the mainstream, are turning away from traditional media, but are still very receptive to podcast advertising. They aren’t just ‘ad-haters’.”

The Podcast Consumer Attitudes study is the first of a series of studies that will look at consumer attitudes and behavior concerning online video and audio, social media and Twitter.

Image: Lock, stock and 2 smoking barrels!!

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10 Responses to “Podcast Fans Are The Ultimate Audience For Advertisers”

  1. Jason Tzingt says:

    Interesting info – but I’d like to see stats like this from an independent source.

    The fact that this was sponsored by the ADM makes the results a little suspect, don’t you think?

    • Hi there Jason

      I thought this warranted a quick response from someone at ADM. One of the legitimate roles of a trade association is to pursue the right questions, especially if they have never been asked. There are a lot of anecdotal stories of business successes (and plenty of challenges) in podcasting and downloadable media, but not nearly as much serious professional study on consumer behavior with this emerging media.

      The kind of work that Edison has been achieving year over year in the spaces of political polling, media research, and consumer studies, made them a great choice for a rigorous study like this. Their client list is reputable (enviable!) and their application of statistical and scientific method is some of the best in the business.

      It is perhaps inescapable when a group of people who wish for favorable outcomes, and associates with strong supporting data, that a question like yours comes up. It’s even natural and part of our responsibility to be critical and ask whether there is any possibility of a breach of integrity. For that precise reason we are honored to be working with Edison Research to keep things honest.

      The data stands on its own, as one of a growing body of research indicating that podcasts and downloadable media are indeed part of a “nutritional and balanced” advertisement buy.

      Chris MacDonald
      Chairman ADM

      • Dave Dax says:

        Chris – this is great news for podcasters and for the medium – and makes sense to me because of the way people choose to listen to podcasters that they like and trust.

        I would expect that a lot of people outside podcasting, though, will be dumfounded by the statistics and question them, though, because they are remarkable.

  2. Tom Webster says:

    I can assure you that we are an independent source. This has our name on it, and we go to enormous pains to ensure the accuracy and quality of our sampling, reporting and analysis.

    We would not be in business for long if we were in the business you suggest.

    Tom Webster
    Vice President
    Edison Research

    • chellie dixon says:

      Tom – why do you think people are so much more receptive to ads in podcasts?

      Is it because they are less saturated with ads? Or because they trust the podcast hosts?

      • Tom Webster says:

        I think it’s mostly 2 things, with a third factor as the “kicker.” First of all, the importance of the quantity of ads can’t be understated. The lack of clutter on podcasts absolutely facilitates receptivity–but that affects more than just receptiveness to ads. If podcasts were cluttered with ads, it would likely kill the medium right along with the advertiser.

        Once you set the quantity bar sufficiently low, I think the biggest factor is receptivity. Magazines, for instance, have quantified the receptivity effect for years. If you pick up a Wired Magazine, you are probably more receptive to ads for technology products. If you buy Men’s Health (why would you?) you are probably more receptive to ads for fitness products, or cologne. So when you come across those ads in that context, they are less jarring and may even be read as “content.”

        Those are the biggest factors. The third, when the host themselves deliver the message, really puts it over the top, but also carries danger–every time the host does this, they put their relationships on the line in the service of a product. When the product is good, it is truly a force multiplier.

        Hope that adds some value!

        • James Lewin says:


          Great feedback.

          The ad density is huge. I hope that this doesn’t change as podcast audiences get larger.

          Do you think that the items you cite, especially lower ad density & receptivity, “native” to podcasts – or is this a transitional phase?
          It seems that, as advertisers see the value of podcasts, many podcasters will want to increase ad density to avoid leaving money on the table.

          • Tom Webster says:

            I think there are 2 ways to increase “ad density”:

            1. Add more spots to your podcasts
            2. Do more, short podcasts with single sponsors.

            #2 involves more effort, and (I think) a greater return on that effort.

            But if you look at the most popular podcasts on iTMS, there is no question in my mind that they wouldn’t be there if they were junked up with ads. It’s a huge part of the medium.

          • elliot says:

            Fewer ads are a requirement for podcasts. Since podcasts are more of an opt-in model, podcasts that are full of ads just won’t be listened to.

            I listen to a lot of music podcasts, and most of them mention sponsors at the beginning and end. If that changed, I’d probably look for different podcasts.

      • Brad says:

        I can understand why podcast audiences are much more receptive to advertising on the podcasts recordings. It’s simple; listeners are already letting everyone know that they are part of a “target audience” simply by choosing to subscribe or by downloading the podcast. They’ve demonstrated a vested interest in the topic of the program by doing so. No longer are they foot traffic, they’ve come to see the show because they like the circus.

        Podcasts, and similar downloadable media including accompanying iPhone (smartphone) apps, are portable and now pretty much available anywhere there is cellular coverage. Advertisers don’t need to require that audiences sit stationary in front of a television or a desktop computer. It’s almost as if advertisers can now be the voice of . . . well let’s face it, the voice of god. They “know” when you’re interested in something and are there to direct you toward their clients.

        Confused? Let me paint a scenario. A doctor is walking down the street listening to an episode of “Ask the Podcast Doctor” on his iPhone, brought to you by Cord Blood of America . . . an so on. #1 CBAI has just placed it’s name in front of a doctor, a member of the wider target audience whom, when asked, will know of at least one cord blood storage company to look into when asked to recommend one. #2 CBAI made contact with that target audience while open to similar news input from the same sector where and when he was not otherwise in the proximity of traditional types of media, whether it be audio (radio) or visual (TV, billboards) or mixed media (internet-podcasts, vidcasts/vodcasts, text, image, interactivity, choice navigation).

        The advertiser has just tapped into a larger percentage of the remaining majority of a person’s free time away from advertising sources.

        I noticed Wizzard Media was mentioned at 36 minutes into the presentation. Wizzard is the world’s largest podcasting w/ iPhone app network. Their stock symbok is WZE traded on the AMEX, up 5% off the support level bounce, on this news starting what could be the beginnings of a meteoric rise from the looks of it.

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