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‘A-Listeners’- the power of the podcast audience

Podcasts are going mainstream. The medium is ripe with potential for brands to jump on, yet only a few large players have tapped into the genre as a vehicle for awareness, growth, and success.

Unlike the US, the UK market has so far been underserviced with a lack of information and research into the nuances of the UK podcast industry and UK podcast listeners. That’s why 4DC has released the UK’s first podcast report of its kind, seeking to understand the dynamic – and until now enigmatic – nature of the UK podcast audience.

The podcast pound

Two key audiences dominate the podcast listener demographic, millennials and Gen Z. Demographics in the 16-34-year-old age bracket have long been targeted by brands, and have proven time and again to be conscientious and elusive when it comes to brand communication efforts.

Yet in the podcast space, millennials are the core listener demographic and Gen Z provides the biggest growth opportunity. Our research demonstrates that podcast listeners across both generations comfortably outspend their non-listener peers. Millennial podcast listeners outspend non-listeners by up to 179%.

This spending power should alert PR and communications teams to the power of podcasts. Our data shows that this audience even seeks out specifically branded content, with two in five listening to podcasts connected to brands they enjoy.

Brands are awakening to this reality, with major names such as Netflix, McDonald's, Nike, Microsoft, and Love Island producing their own podcasts. Yet this isn’t the only way brands can tap into the medium. Targeted features, sponsorships, and guest speakers can hugely benefit brands, without the need for podcast production.

The ‘A-Listeners’

Podcast audiences combine spending power with a huge degree of loyalty. As the medium revolves around choice – material being selected by a consumer – brands that can draw a listener in are richly rewarded.

Nine in ten (93%) of listeners who start a podcast will finish it, giving brands a potential 43 minutes of exposure to a committed audience. This is a loyal and receptive audience with our research revealing an increased attention to environmental credentials and third-party recommendations. Making this consumer group a prime target for considered PR and comms messaging.

We wanted to find out exactly how these factors would affect brand recall ability. Exposing a panel of listeners to two differing podcasts, we tested how the audience would react to host-read advertising. And the results were astounding, with two in threeof the respondents recalling featured advertisements, and up to 68% stating that they felt adverts to be more effective in podcasts than TV, radio, print, or online counterparts. Demonstrating that listeners don’t only focus on core podcast material, but on brand features too.

In real world scenarios, listeners who said they would follow up on mentioned brands always outweighed those who denied interest. The difference here is between when brands are ‘discussed’ on a show, versus only ‘mentioned’. When brand material is properly integrated into the show, interest is always higher than a simple mention. Showing that brands must respect the intimate nature of the medium to take full advantage of consumer attention.

From a PR perspective, this level of attention to messaging is unique. When it comes to shaping relations, podcasting can offer a more personable approach for consumers.

The secret to success

It is clear that podcast audiences are extremely receptive and committed. But they have to be treated with respect. With an overwhelmingly young audience – sceptical of brand shilling – marketing and communications teams need a bespoke podcast strategy. Podcast audiences are listening, but they need to be brought in with engaging and relevant content.

The future

The UK podcast scene is around five years behind the US. The time for brands to break into the podcast world and engage with this powerful audience is now. The UK market is simmering with potential, and it is only just bursting into the mainstream. Which other types of content can boast such a loyal and receptive following?

Read the full report here.