nab show podcast listeners220

As the podcast space continues to expand, the new listeners it is attracting are younger, more diverse, and more likely to be female. More than three in 10 new podcast listeners (31%) are 13-24 compared to 18% for people who have been consuming podcasts for one year or more. Nearly two thirds (65%) are female, versus 49% for 1 year+ podcast audiences. And 30% are non-white, and nearly double that (17%) among those who have been tuning in for at least a year.

This is according to new data presented Thursday by Stitcher at NAB Show New York. The podcast company, part of E.W. Scripps, surveyed 11,826 respondents from its database who have been listening to podcasts for less than a year and 66,097 who have been listening for one year or more. The survey was conducted January-August 2019.  

“If you look back even just a few years ago, podcasting was basically a white guy in his 30s kind of a platform. That’s no longer the case,” Sarah van Mosel, Chief Revenue Officer of Stitcher said during the session “Audio Insights for your Podcast Strategy.”  “We’re seeing a real diversification of the space and that means it’s starting to look a lot more like what mainstream America looks like.”

The influx of young, female and diverse audiences has Stitcher working on new shows to appeal to this growing audience faction. Stitcher also uses data from its surveys to help guide partners looking to expand their portfolio of shows. Working with digital media publisher Vox Media, the two companies collaborated on a daily news podcast, “Today Explained,” taking an approach that differentiated it from the leader in the space, The New York Times-produced “The Daily.”   “It has a very different feel than ‘The Daily,’” Nishat Kurwa Executive Producer of Audio for Vox Media Studios said. “The host is really driven by delving into a diversity of stories representing the diversity of American society. There’s a lot of brevity and lightness even as they’re addressing serious topics.”

Data isn’t only being used to help steer new shows. It’s also become a critical ingredient in how podcasts are monetized. While Stitcher, a veteran in the podcast space, has long been using “baked in” host-read ads, it is now shifting to ads dynamically inserted into shows, using ad targeting technology from parent company Scripps’ acquisition of Triton Digital. “We’re pivoting away from show-by-show selling,” van Mosel said, to audience-based selling, where it can deliver the advertiser’s target across as many as 20 shows. Even with an ad unit menu that includes host-read, announcer-read and fully produced ads, van Mosel stressed the importance of using ads that are “appropriate for the show.” And there is still a learning curve.  “We’re just at the beginning of knowing everything that our predecessors f*cked up,” van Mosel offered. Podcast audiences are known for their deep engagement with their favorite shows and hosts. So when they hear an ad that doesn’t fit the show, “you’ll hear from them,” Kurwa said. 

And with podcast listeners having built an “ad bubble” around them – many use ad blockers and avoid ads in broadcast media – van Mosel said there’s “a lot of pressure” on podcasters to get the ads right. Citing surveys it conducts with listeners who tune into podcasts on its platform, she said 90% of the time they take an action after hearing an ad on a podcast.—Paul Heine