Why Podcasting has survived (and thrived) during COVID-19

December 17, 2020By Craig NoldenBurrelles, Communications, Content Marketing, Marketing, Media Industry, Media Measurement, Media Monitoring, Media Outreach, Media Relations, Mobile Media, News Coverage, Public Relations, Social Media 1 Comment

Podcasting was trending upward even before the pandemic hit. For a little perspective, back in March when the coronavirus first upended American business, people stopped commuting and going to the gym. Even podcasting took a big hit. In fact, downloads declined about 10%. Fortunately, that slide turned out to be short-lived. While people still aren’t commuting, data shows that listeners found ways to fit podcast shows into different parts of their day as they’ve taken on new daily routines.

As we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has led to significant changes in the day-to-day routines of millions of people around the U.S. Since we’re at home more, buying decisions have moved almost exclusively online, and even the way we consume content has shifted. From a work perspective, most employees continue to work exclusively at home.

In general, more Americans are familiar with and listening to podcasts than ever before. At the start of 2020, 212 million Americans were aware of podcasts, which is up 10 million year over year, and 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast.

In addition to these stats showing year-over-year growth, the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the natural rise of podcast listening, with global usage up 42%. In the U.S., 18% of adults said they are listening to more podcasts since they started isolating and social distancing, and there is also large growth among the Millennial and Gen Z generations.

I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising that the pandemic has made content junkies out of all of us. I know I count myself in that bucket. Americans are flocking to podcasts with a newfound excitement and with more of us working remotely in compliance with coronavirus safety protocols, it means more flexibility to listen to what we want before work, at lunch and late into the night.

When people are forced to spend more time indoors, they naturally end up spending more time consuming media. This was true for my fellow co-workers on the East Coast during the 2016 Snowpocalypse, and it’s true now for COVID-19. Podcasting has been great attracting new listeners who just want some normalcy in a time that is anything but normal.

Podcast advertising revenue is on the rise!

We know that podcasting is one of the fastest growing industries. And we also know this increased interest comes at a time when listeners use podcasts for education and entertainment. This is the exact type of engagement that advertisers want to be a part of, especially when the pandemic has forced companies and brands to reexamine and tighten their budgets.

Podcasting is now actively competing for the media dollars of both big and small advertisers, and it’s getting them. Experts predict that podcast advertising will pass the $1 billion mark by 2021, taking money from both traditional and digital vendors and carving out its own niche for advertisers.

Why are podcast listeners and advertising dollars increasing? Just a few of the reasons include:
1. On-demand audio entertainment provides the ultimate flexibility

Podcasts episodes differ by episode length and frequency, but they are always available for listening, whenever a listener chooses. Our schedules are more different than ever with the pandemic. The opportunity to listen to podcasts when it is convenient is a very large draw, plus the programs being audio and not video allow consumers to multi-task at home while they listen.

Also, with consumers feeling stressed and unsure during the pandemic, podcasts with familiar voices and hosts can offer comfort and escapism for listeners. Before the pandemic, listening times were higher during commutes and daytime hours, and now listening has evened out throughout the week.

2. Active and engaged listeners

No matter what your interest, there is most likely a podcast out there for you. From food, sports, myth-busting, current news and events, to TV, movies and music discussions, there are very few topics not covered by a podcast.

And since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there’s also been increased listenership to podcasts related to design, food and medicine which makes sense. With everyone being home more, it’s clear that consumers want content related to what they’re going through right now. Having a media product that focuses on exactly what the consumer is interested in gives podcasting a huge leg up on its media competition.

3. Perfect Companion to Other Audio Media

A lot of the top podcasts are found on major platforms like Spotify, iHeartMedia, Radio.com, and Pandora. Since those platforms already have a strong presence with consumers, adding podcasts into the mix for advertisers is a simple add-on. When media dollars allow, airing on AM/FM radio, digital streaming and podcasts allows brands to hit consumers where they are, and when they are listening.

Advertising on all three audio platforms can increase brand frequency and drive more equity than one channel alone. Plus, digital streaming and audio podcasts are very cost-efficient and can work as a great companion to any campaign. During the pandemic, with all the advertising upheaval, it’s become even more cost-efficient to pair those tactics together and reach consumers wherever they are listening.

4. Great Targeting Abilities

In this current climate, pursuing certain traditional marketing platforms doesn’t always make sense. Just as podcasters are having to adapt to a new landscape, advertisers are seeking marketing options that will still target the right demographics in a more intimate way while giving them the best return on their investment. For many brands, that is podcasts.

Listening to podcasts feels like a one-on-one experience for many consumers. This truly authentic relationship that a podcast has with its audience can help deliver a brand message directly to captive consumers. This provides brands the opportunity to reach their target consumers when they’re actively interested in and connected to the content being presented. Most larger podcasts know the exact demographics of their listeners, so it is easy for them to focus in on who their specific target is and really pump in additional frequency directly to those consumers.

When it comes to marketing and advertising during the pandemic, there haven’t been many silver linings so far, but the widespread adoption and popularity of podcasting has been one of them.

If you’d like to know how Burrelles podcast monitoring can help your business or brand with tracking mentions, uncovering trends, gaining market intelligence for you and your competition, monitoring issues in real time, etc., feel free to contact us for more information or to answer any questions.

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