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Team Whistle, an entertainment and sports media company that has launched its own podcast network to leverage its content into the audio space, has released some findings of survey data it has collected aimed at determining the relationship Gen Z and Millennial audiences have with podcasts. Its big takeaway is that because podcast listening is an active, engaged, and lean-in experience, for young listeners the medium is a primed for brand advertising.

Among its findings are that young adults are increasingly turning to audio to be entertained with three-quarters of 13 to 34-year old’s saying they put on a podcast while doing other things to keep them entertained. Team Whistle said the data shows that podcasts are most likely to replace television while commuting and while working, doing chores, or studying. TV only does better than podcasts in the after-work or after-school hours and before bedtime.

In terms of advertising, that could be a front-of mind advantage for ad buyers saidTommy Walters, Research and Insights Manager at Team Whistle. “Targeting a consumer who is on and engaged before work or while studying – available to search the product online or on social media – is more impactful than a consumer who is about to go to bed or exhausted after a long day,” he said.

The data shows that beyond just having fun, three-quarters of young adults said they have listened to a podcast to learn something new. And when they feel like learning something new, two-thirds picked listening to a podcast over reading a book.

The Team Whistle data found that one of the elements engaging young listeners is the unscripted nature of podcasting. It was a factor cited by 71% of Gen Zs and 51% of Millennials, which suggest the unscripted nature is helping make a podcast and its host feel more authentic and it works to develop the friend-like connection.

Walters said that could help an advertiser tailor how they want to approach their podcast spots. “Gen Z always prefers a down to earth, off the cuff; style, so it helps to tailor advertisements to that sentiment,” he said. “Because Gen Z wants funny podcast hosts, they are more likely to respond to an advertisers’ message if it matches the comedic style of the podcast they are choosing to listen to.”

To that point, among young adults the most important characteristic they seek out in a host is their humor – a factor mentioned by six in ten of those surveyed. Relatability was close behind, cited by 56%. Less important were characteristics such as compassionate and thought-provoking, further pointing to the entertainment goal of their listening.

The survey found 83% of pod listeners say their favorite podcasters feel like their friends. The downside to that is they also keep a tight circle of podcast friends – with four in five podcast listeners reporting they had listened to five or fewer podcasts in the previous month. 

Young adults are renowned for their short attention spans. But podcasting may be an exception. When asked how long they thought an idea episode should be, Gen Zs said 71-minutes and Millennials said 94-minutes. Even as Gen Zs preferred a show 24% shorter, both numbers are no doubt a surprise to many producers.

“I was impressed that Gen Z said the ideal time (on average) was over an hour, especially with all the reporting of Gen Z having an attention span of eight seconds,” said Walters. “I think this stat speaks to the findings on how both Gen Z and Millennials are using podcasts as a source of entertainment while doing other activities.”

Team Whistle also asked how many young adults would be interested in subscribing to a podcast listening service. It found that 61% would rather listen to commercials rather than pay a fee. One reason could be these engaged listeners are putting the information they hear in the ads to use. The survey shows 77% have considered making a purchase because of an ad they heard in a podcast. 

The online survey was conducted in September 2020 among a nationally representative sample of 460 participants aged 13 to 34. Gen Z was defined as those between the ages of 13 and 24, with Millennials defined as being 25 to 34 years old.

Download the full report HERE