Upcoming at unBoxed: Dial in to the power of smart audio and podcast advertising

October 18, 2021 | By: Dora Wang, Content Marketing Manager

The audio medium is increasingly resonating with audiences.

Smart audio—including smart speakers like Amazon Echo and other devices that use voice assistants like Amazon Alexa—are part of many US consumers' everyday lives. More and more, smart speakers are becoming a standard household item—41% of US households own at least one smart speaker.1 Voice assistants "make their lives easier," according to over two-thirds of the people who use them.2

Smart audio can help users reduce screen time, aid in common tasks, offer hands-free calling, and help operate smart home devices. Users consume a wide variety of content through smart audio, from entertainment like listening to music or podcasts, to informational like looking up news and weather.

How audio usage changed in 2020

With the events of 2020 and 2021, consumers have spent far more time at home, and that has changed the habits of some. This shift also seems to have increased usage of smart audio. Fifty-two percent of those who use voice assistants like Alexa or Siri say they use voice tech several times a day or nearly every day, compared to 46% prior to COVID-19.3

The increased usage isn't limited to a specific type of content, either. For example, 35% of US adult smart speaker owners are listening to more news and information since the start of the pandemic—and 36% are also listening to more music and entertainment.4

In other words, the popularity of smart audio is not just about utility; nor is it just about fun. Audio is a convenient and functional way for consumers to get the content they want.

The rise of podcasts

listeners will increase by 10.1% year over year to 117.8 million.5 By the end of 2025, that number is projected to exceed 144 million.6

Just like smart audio in general, podcasting is a medium for an enormous variety of content—news, history, sports, fiction, self-help, and more. Listeners may use podcasts to follow contemporary scientific research, hear from their favorite celebrities, or learn about other cultures. Capable of piquing listeners' interest, curiosity, emotions, and wonder, during a single 30-minute episode or across a multi-hour series, podcasting is an intimate medium that can connect content deeply with its audience.

It's important not to assume that all podcast listeners fit into the same mold. While podcasts are most popular among a younger adult demographic—60% of US adults ages 18 to 34 are monthly listeners—there are also sizeable groups of listeners within other age ranges, such as half of US adults ages 35-44.7 In addition, podcast audiences are growing globally. By 2025, eMarketer estimates that there will be over 22.4 million monthly podcast listeners in Germany, 16.5 million in Japan, and 158.9 million in China.8

Reaching listeners through podcast advertising

Not only is podcasting gaining more followers, but audiences are also spending more time with them this year—a little over 44 minutes per day, a year-over-year increase of 8.1%.9 Podcast advertising can help brands reach these audiences during their everyday lives, with ads that can play at the beginning, middle, or end of the podcast. In fact, US podcast advertising is estimated to grow from $701.0 million in 2019 to $1.33 billion in 2021.10

And it's not just about the time spent. Podcasts can be a highly effective way to engage meaningfully with audiences. Podcast network Wondery collaborated with Mindshare’s NeuroLab to measure the effects of podcast ads versus social media video ads on memory and emotion. They found that listeners experienced higher average memory encoding branding mentions on podcast ads compared to the same brand ads on social media. Listeners also experienced higher average emotional intensity for podcast ads compared to social media ads.11

Among podcast audiences, "Super Listeners"—US adults who listen to 5+ hours of podcasts weekly—are particularly receptive. Nearly half of them agree that “Advertising on a podcast is the best way for a brand to reach you,” and reported that their opinion of a company is more positive when they hear it mentioned on one of the podcasts they regularly listen to.12

Continuing the conversation

You can hear from Jen Sargent, CEO of Wondery, and learn more about connecting with audiences through audio at unBoxed 2021.

1 MRI Simmons Cord Evolution Study, April 2021, US
2 Smart Audio Report, NPR and Edison Research, Spring 2020, US
3 Smart Audio Report, NPR and Edison Research, Spring 2020, US
4 Smart Audio Report, NPR and Edison Research, Spring 2020, US
5 eMarketer, April 2021, US
6 eMarketer, April 2021, US
7 eMarketer, April 2021, US
8 eMarketer, July 2021, WW
9 eMarketer, April 2021, US
10 eMarketer, April 2021, US
11 "Your Brain on Podcasts," Mindshare Neurolab and Wondery, 2019, US
12 "Super Listeners," Edison Research, Ad Results Media, and Podcast One, 2020, US