9 Podcast Myths Busted In 2023

Conal Byrne, CEO iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group.

Podcasting has exploded. Over the past five years or so, we’ve seen podcasting become the hottest new mass media medium in the United States – with some 90 million Americans a week tuning in. And, like any new, big medium that suddenly becomes the buzzword, there are a lot of myths surrounding podcasting.

So what better way to level-set where the medium stands today and why it continues to elude marketers instead of busting some of the myths?

Myth #1: Podcasting is about the “platform wars”.

One of the best features of podcasting is that, since its inception, it has been a publisher-centric medium. While podcasts are available on more platforms than ever before, publishers retain the advertising revenue, data, and content of the shows they distribute. So, while a listener can tune into iHeartPodcasts’ “Stuff You Should Know” on any other app they choose, the advertising revenue, data and content goes back to the publisher. As I mentioned earlier, if a brand wants to buy advertising on a podcast, they should call the producer or publisher, as they have the economic power. i.e. it doesn’t matter Where? A podcast is listened to.

Myth #2: Podcasting is great content, but it isn’t targetable or measurable.

Plain and simple: yes, it is. In fact, anything that a marketer can target or measure streaming Audio can also be measured podcasting, competitive separation? check. Category Specification? check. reach and frequency? check. Demographic, psychographic and geographic targeting? check. All The sophisticated targeting and measurement capabilities that have made digital media so powerful over the past 20 years are now available for podcasts, too.

Myth #3: Podcasting is not growing.

Don’t believe everything you read. Statistics show that more people are listening to podcasts on a daily basis than ever before. Viewership in every age demographic grew by double digits. Fifty-five percent of 12- to 34-year-olds listened to a podcast every month in 2023, up 10 points year over year. This highly coveted audience, from an advertising perspective, leads all others, followed by 35 to 54, well above 50% monthly reach. It’s clear that audience growth hasn’t slowed down.

Myth #4: Listening to a podcast is the same as listening to a playlist.

not enough. When we consume audio there are different ways of listening. When you listen to a playlist, you’re likely in “lean-back” mode—wanting to escape the world and retreat for some “me” time. That’s not great for product marketing. Podcasting is different: while there is still a huge entertainment factor for listeners (71% just want to be entertained), there is also a notable segment of listeners who want to learn and are open to new ideas and products. In fact, 74% of podcast listeners expect to discover something new; 60% want to know. It’s compelling—making it the most effective digital audio medium for marketers because podcasts both drive curiosity And Help us feel connected.

Myth #5: Podcast reach is growing, but time spent is not.

Podcast listeners have longer attention spans than they get credit for. As podcasting becomes more sophisticated, so do audience appetites. While quick-bite shows may have been the way listeners were originally hooked, the latest data shows that daily listening has doubled since 2017. In just six years, the amount of time listeners spend with a podcast has gone from an average of 26 minutes to an average of 57 minutes. This means that while the total audience has grown, the average individual listener is also spending more time with podcasts. In this fast-paced world full of content, this is huge.

Myth #6: Podcasts are full of casual listeners.

The opposite is true—heavy podcast listeners are the new majority. Heavy and super listeners account for 46% of total listeners in 2022. This is in contrast to last year when 47% counted themselves as light listeners. This means medium loyalty is growing at a rapid pace – and the overall industry is riding the wave.

Myth #7: Podcasting and talk radio are the same.

While talk radio is certainly a precursor to podcasting—and, to a large extent, helped create an audience for it—the ways listeners tune into these two mediums differ. When it comes to radio, the majority of listening takes place outside the home, with 68% of listeners tuning in that way. On the other hand, 69% of podcast listening happens inside the home. These mediums have different audiences and advantages, and creators and publishers shouldn’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to both. More often than not, a marketing campaign is best successful when it includes Both,

Myth #8: Podcasting is a niche medium.

Podcast listeners are everywhere. In fact, podcasts outperform Netflix when it comes to weekly consumption. While the streaming giant has 67 million US subscribers, podcasting reaches about 90 million listeners a week. The inherent universality of podcasting appeals to any audience, and the ease of consumption means they can tune in whenever they want, wherever they are. This will only grow if publishers seek to uplift underrepresented communities, an initiative iHeartPodcasts continues to prioritize with My Cultura Podcast Network, Charlamagne Tha God’s Black Effect Podcast Network, and New Outspoken, a podcast network for the LGBTQ+ community.

Myth #9: Audience growth can only be achieved through advertising on other podcasts.

This is not always true. iHeartPodcasts, the Number One Podcast Network According to Podtracks, Uses Audio-Only Marketing to Get There—On Podcast and broadcast radio, And it worked. For example, when we acquired Stuff Media in 2018, they had 5.4 million listeners. Through our strategic marketing across all of our broadcast radio stations, Stuff Media now has 33 million listeners, and their topline show has surpassed three billion downloads.

So how about we end up where we started? Podcasting is exploding. But, like any new phenomenon, this too needs to bust the myths, so that we can understand exactly how and why and where it is gaining momentum. Only then can we truly embrace and make the most of this once-in-a-career moment.

Research by Hetal Patel, iHeartMedia Executive Vice President, SmartAudio and Insights.

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