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Making the Case for Podcasts on Younger Demo Ad Buys

We’re seeing a compelling case for podcasts as an increasingly important consideration in any ad campaigns targeting anyone under the age of 35. That’s our key takeaway from working as the research partner with Tom Webster and Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable in the new study The Medium Moves the Message: A Comparative Assessment of Advertising from Broadcast to Podcast.

Linear TV and AM/FM radio still deliver big reach – but the shift towards on-demand media has exposed a younger flank increasingly unavailable to radio and TV advertisers: podcast listeners.

It may not be totally surprising that The Medium Moves the Message shows podcasts approaching mass medium status among 18-34 Americans, making them an attractive complement to TV and AM/FM.

However, we also learned that podcasts serve up a younger audience profile than even social media and online video.

The average podcast listener is 5 – 6 years younger than the average online video or social media user.

Other digital media like social media and online video is often a reflexive choice to bring younger demos into the media plan. Yet, demographic data from The Medium Moves the Message shows podcasts to be a viable, targeted option, with an average past week audience among adults of 39.7 years, compared to 46.1 years for past week users of social media and 44.5 years for online video.

The other plus for podcasts is the unique relationship between podcast listeners and the brands that make their favorite podcasts possible. Six-in-ten past-week podcast listeners in The Medium Moves the Message said they ‘go out of their way to support brands that support their favorite podcasts.’

This puts ad receptivity for podcasts into a different stratosphere than that of other digital media like social media or online video.

Melissa Paris, VP of Sales Research and Analytics for one of the study sponsors, SXM Media, suggested a question for The Medium Moves the Message with results that reveal that podcast ads are far more openly accepted than their counterparts on social media or online video.

Podcast ads outperform ads on social media and online video on every attribute we measured, with roughly 2x as many past week podcast listeners as social media or online video users associating their ads as being ‘authentic’ and ‘trustworthy.’ Meanwhile, podcast listeners were 2x less likely to complain of ‘too many ads’ or ‘ads I avoid.’

Podcasts deserve consideration to bring a younger audience into virtually any ad campaign. They offer a clear digital alternative to online video or social media in both demos and ad receptivity

Case closed?

Yes, according to Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer for Cumulus Media, who recently looked at the robust growth of podcast listening and reached a similar conclusion. Reminded of former BBDO media chief Arnie Semsky’s “5% solution” when Arnie successfully persuaded brands to set 5% of their budget aside for what was then the emerging media of cable TV, Pierre feels that now is the time for all brands to make a meaningful commitment to podcasting.


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