Last week Tom Webster of Edison Research presented their quarterly tracking report titled “Podcasting: Connection and Community During Quarantine.”
As Edison Research noted: “this presentation includes previously unreleased data from the Podcast Consumer Tracker, the only comprehensive, all-inclusive measure of podcast listening in the U.S. This data was collected continuously before and during the current COVID-19 crisis, and is the industry’s only look at how podcasting’s audience, not just their downloads, has been impacted by the pandemic.”
The headline coming out of their research is that while so many industries and media channels have been impacted by COVID-19, podcast listening has returned to pre-COVID levels.
And as our summary of their research shows there are a handful of points that, we think, will matter to marketers.
41% of weekly podcast listeners have had their work reduced or eliminated
JAR Insight: Brands are always looking for authentic ways to engage with their audience, but the pandemic poses a perilous challenge for marketers: how do you put your best brand foot forward while respecting this difficult time? We know that a podcast can be an effective tool for brands to deliver content chock-full of value. And right now the best thing a brand can do is be helpful. We think now is the time for brands to create podcasts designed to help those who’s employment status has changed. Perhaps its a series on skill building, career pivot success stories, or a deep dive into the science behind resilience? The ideas are endless, the timeline for the pandemic is uncertain but we know that the needs are enormous.
Desktop/laptop listening has risen as a result of quarantine. AM/FM listening by podcast listeners is down
JAR Insight: People are doing a lot more ‘laptop listening’ – mostly because we aren’t able to commute, be outside as much, or go to the gym. This is an important point for marketers, as the listening behaviour is changing (at least for the time being). As commuting is reduced podcast listeners are less mobile. Does this mean listeners are more focused? Or more distracted? Are they listening while banging out emails and corralling their kids away from the fish tank, or are they taking some time away from the screen to recharge and get taken away with a podcast?
Usage of on-demand delivery/convenience services has risen among weekly listeners
JAR Insight: This should come as no surprise as podcast listeners are more tech savvy, look for variety in their podcast (and food) options, and seek out
Consumption has begun to return to pre-quarantine levels
JAR Insight: As listenership is returning to its normal levels, marketers need to be mindful of the changing habits of listeners. Listening levels might have returned to normal, but the type of listening done might never be the same (ie. new habits are emerging). Instead of listening to a show on the subway, someone might now be listening when their kids go to bed, for example. Or, someone who became accustomed to listening to a podcast at work using earphones might now feel free to listen over speakers as they work at home.
News and various Home and Self Improvement topics have increased significantly
JAR Insight: In a lot of ways the most popular categories (and least popular) can tell you where people’s heads are at during the pandemic. Listeners want to stay informed and are looking for positivity/motivation and skills to better themselves as we enter this new normal.
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Roger Nairn is the Co-Founder and CEO of JAR Audio