Lighter Podcast Listeners are Fueling Audience Growth

The word podcast was added to the Oxford English Dictionary back in 2005, but the term had yet to gain much traction in the media industry—as well as with the average consumer. Fast forward 16 years, and podcasting has blossomed into a burgeoning industry that provides brands with an opportunity to engage with a growing base of consumers that are very receptive to the engagement.

The transformation certainly didn’t happen overnight, but the rise in popularity of podcasts over the past six-plus years has effectively changed the landscape of the entire market. In addition to attracting rampant celebrity involvement and fueling original TV content, podcasts are attracting big ad dollars, with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) predicting that ad revenue will hit $2 billion by 2023, well above the $842 million generated last year.

The rising ad dollars also speaks to the notably broad audience that now listens to podcasts. That’s a key shift, particularly as advertisers look to podcasting for new opportunities. Today, almost half (49%) of U.S. podcast listeners are light users who are presumably new to the medium: people who listen anywhere from one to three times a month. That’s a notable contrast from the typical podcast listener five or 10 years ago when most listening came from people who were more likely to listen to each and every episode from their favorite titles—episodes that are oftentimes released once a week.

The evolution of podcast engagement over the past few years highlights two important storylines:

Consumer interest in new, engaging content

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