Whether it’s waking up to a favorite AM/FM radio morning show on a smart speaker or ending the day listening to a comedy or true crime podcast, audio is a daily habit for millions of Americans. Beyond the #1 mass reach medium of AM/FM radio, emerging platforms are providing new options to reach and impact millions of consumers.
As a leader in the audio space with over a quarter billion weekly listeners, Westwood One examines the role of new technologies in the audio experience with the new Westwood One 2019 Audioscape report.
Here are a few key findings on podcasting and smart speakers:
The podcast audience is maturing: median age advances from 29 in 2017 to 35 in 2018
According to Edison Research’s “Share of Ear” report, the podcasting median age has aged by six years from 29 in Q4 2017 to 35 in Q4 2018. With a median age of 35, the podcast audience is still younger than AM/FM radio (46) and broadcast television networks (56).
Podcasting has benefited from increased consumption among 25-54s. The 35-year-old median age represents a happy medium between the desirable cohorts of Millennials and Gen X.
Podcast listeners are far more engaged and 1.5X more attentive than social media audiences
Podcasting listening is a “lean-in” experience that commands listener attention. According to a study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), listeners report higher levels of concentration while listening to podcasts than for most other online activities including social media use. Only news and weather content command a slightly higher level of concentration than listening to podcasts.
71% say they are “concentrating a lot” when listening to podcasts, a 4 or 5 on a five-point concentration scale. Videos come next, followed by music. Checking social media is dead last in consumer concentration.
Podcasting is the only media where learning and entertainment coexist
The attractive podcasting environment represents a unique opportunity for brands to get their message heard by a receptive and engaged audience. It is the only media that satisfies the need states of those who want to both learn and be entertained.
Smart speaker listening continues to grow
What percentage of the population owns a smart speaker? That depends on who you ask. Depending on the source, as many as 2 out of 5 Americans are estimated to own a smart speaker.
Of the five recently published studies, the consensus for smart speaker ownership is in the low 20% range. As smart speaker use becomes an integral part of the audio experience for millions of Americans, ownership continues to climb.
Edison Research’s latest estimate of smart speaker penetration is 23% based on their recently released 2019 Infinite Dial study. Trending their data, ownership has tripled in two years.
Smart speakers are being adopted across generations: 35-54 is the largest ownership group
While Millennials are slightly more likely than the U.S. population to own a smart speaker, Gen Xers (adults between the ages of 35 and 54) represent the largest segment of smart speaker owners. 38% of smart speaker owners are 35-54, followed by 18-34 Millennials (29%) and 55+ Boomers (22%).
Think smart speaker owners spend less time listening to AM/FM radio? Think again
Smart speaker owners spend the same amount of time each day with AM/FM radio as the general population. AM/FM radio delivers a higher than average daily reach among smart speaker owners.
Smart speakers are simply an extension of the audio experience for AM/FM radio listeners. Triton Digital recently reported that 19% of U.S. AM/FM audio streaming now comes from a smart speaker. This has more than doubled in a year (9% in January 2018 to 19% in January 2019). Smart speakers are bringing AM/FM radio listening devices back into American homes.
Key takeaways from the Westwood One 2019 Audioscape Report:
- The podcast audience is maturing: median age advances from 29 in 2017 to 35 in 2018
- Podcast listeners are far more engaged and 1.5X more attentive than social media audiences
- Podcasting is the only media where learning and entertainment coexist
- Smart speaker listening continues to grow
- Smart speakers are being adopted across generations: 35-54 is the largest ownership group
- AM/FM radio use is strong among smart speaker owners
Doug Hyde is Senior Director, National & Local Insights at CUMULUS MEDIA | Westwood One.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@devwp.westwoodone.com.