Podcast listening versus TV watching habits: study

Results of the Spotify, Magna and UM study indicate podcasts are a more effective ad environment than TV.

A new Canadian study – Peak Openness: Leveraging Digital to Reach People When Most Willing to Consider – released by Spotify and IPG’s Magna, with support from UM, shows that consumers are more receptive to podcast advertising than TV advertising.

The study, based on the responses from over 2,300 English Canada participants who listened to digital audio or watching digital video in the past 24 hours, then asked respondents to describe up to two digital audio or digital video sessions from the past 24 hours in detail in a media diary.

Spotify and Magna also conducted a deep dive on podcast listening versus TV show watching behaviours in addition to how media consumption has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research attempted to answer three questions: How does ad receptivity compare in digital audio vs digital video; how has consumption of media changed since March 2020; and what do advertisers need to know about the emerging podcast medium?

“Audio is often overlooked as a brand building medium,” Richard Fofana, VP of strategy at UM, tells MiC. “These findings reinforce that audio can be effective in moments when listeners are engaged in other activities. The research also highlights the opportunity to continue exploring this emerging channel as incremental way to reach consumers in new environments where they are open to messaging.”

Ultimately, the study indicates that receptiveness to advertising differs by medium. A majority of participants (59%) said they’re attentive to podcast ads as opposed to 45% who reported being more attentive to TV ads. Podcast listeners (63%) are more likely to be up to date with the podcasts than are TV viewers (51%) and the shows they watch.

Interestingly, 37% of digital audio listeners say they’re more receptive to ads from visually-focused industries such as retail, auto and entertainment than they are to non-visually focused industries (29%).

Growth of digital audio was accelerated due in part to the pandemic with 66% of respondents reporting screen fatigue, and 76% saying it was a factor in listening to more digital audio content. Participants say they listen to digital audio as a way to de-stress (38%), as a break from screen time (26%) and that generally they look forward to podcasts more (22%) now than they did before the pandemic.

All generations report increased podcast listening since the pandemic, but it has increased the more among Gen Z (24%) and Millennials (23%) compared to older generations (17% for Gen X and 11% for Boomers).

The multi-tasking nature of digital audio lends itself to throughout the day listening providing more opportunities for contextual alignment. Audio is much more conducive to multi-tasking than digital video, according to 90% of study participants who say they take part in other activities compared to 73% who multi-task while watching digital video. Podcast listeners are also more passionate about the host of their favourite podcast (47%) than they are to TV show actors (29%).

For applicable takeaways, Fofana says the data suggests podcasting is a meaningful channel for marketers and a strong complement to a digital strategy. “Our customer research supports what many in the industry suspected: podcast listeners are a highly engaged audience. This data shows us that the high level of engagement translates directly into greater receptiveness to marketing messages in a wider variety of categories than we may previously have considered.”

As far as how this data informs the agency’s media strategy, Fofana says ,”channel strategies for our clients are based on business objectives and communication goals. We recognize that audio and video channels have different roles to play and can complement each other in the media mix to deliver on these objectives. This research quantifies our understanding of what podcasts are capable of.”


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