From Serial, to My Favorite Murder, to Pod Save America, almost everyone has a favorite podcast these days. In 2023, 38.3% of the US population will listen to a podcast each month—a number that’s steadily increased since Apple first released their podcast app in 2012.
Beyond their popularity with listeners, podcasts offer advertisers a unique opportunity to connect with consumers whenever and wherever they’re listening, within content they’re actively engaged with. Podcast ads also reach listeners on a wide variety of devices—from tablets, to mobile phones, to desktops and laptops, to smart speakers. Given these benefits, it’s no wonder that more and more advertisers are incorporating podcasts into their omnichannel media mix.
So, what should advertisers know about the state of podcast advertising in 2023? Read on to find out:
Podcast audiences exploded during the pandemic. In 2019, the number of podcast listeners in the US increased by 28% year-over-year (YoY), reaching 92.4 million; in 2020, that number grew by 32.4% to reach 107.7 million.
Though growth today is less rapid than a few years ago, podcast listenership is still steadily increasing. In 2022, there were 124.2 million podcast listeners in the US, and that number is forecast to reach 129.9 million this year.
Beyond this growth in listenership, time spent with podcasts is also increasing. In 2023, it’s forecast that the total US population will increase its time tuning in by more than 11%, reaching 25 minutes per day. For active listeners, that number is expected to reach 57 minutes per day.
And just what shows are folks listening to? As of January 2023, there were more than four million total podcasts registered around the world, spanning topics from sports, to true crime, to lifestyle, to news, and more. For advertisers, this provides a great opportunity to use contextual targeting to reach key audiences in a privacy-friendly way (because who’s going to be more receptive to a home security system ad than someone binge listening to a true crime podcast? We’ll wait…).
As more and more people tune into podcasts (and spend more time listening to their favorite shows), it’s no surprise that ad spend is following in kind. After all, advertisers want to connect with audiences where they’re spending time, and podcasts offer them the chance to do so within content that consumers are personally connected with.
Here are some key stats to know about the state of podcast ad spend in 2023 and where it’s projected to go from here:
Sure, they’re popular. And more and more people are listening. But why are podcast ads effective?
In short, podcast advertisements reach people as they engage with content that’s meaningful, and often personal, to them. When listeners spend hours tuning into a specific show, they’re building a connection with that show and its hosts. As a result, that host’s recommendation, or even an ad placed within an episode, will likely go a long way.
This phenomenon, dubbed the “audio trust halo,” is backed by research. A 2022 study by iHeartMedia found that 51% of respondents say they are more trusting of radio and podcast advertisers than advertisers on any other medium.
Beyond the “audio trust halo,” here are a few other stats that demonstrate how podcast ads are particularly resonant with audiences:
Everyone’s taking part in the podcast craze, but programmatic podcast activation is still an emerging market. eMarketer predicts that US podcast ad spending will surpass 29% of total digital audio ad spending this year, but only 8.3% of podcast advertising will be bought programmatically in 2023 (up from 3.3% in 2020).
However, as programmatic audio technologies evolve, more and more advertisers will take advantage of the benefits it offers: namely, the ability to place audio ads—in real-time—and to harness the power of advanced targeting, measurement, and optimization technologies to ensure those ads reach key audiences. A 2023 study forecasts programmatic podcast ad spend will triple by 2027. For marketers today, this means that there’s a big opportunity to get in ahead of the curve.
Podcast advertising offers a distinct opportunity to digital advertisers in 2023, allowing them to engage with audiences across their devices and in a variety of settings. And, with programmatic podcast ad spend gaining steam, more and more advertisers are utilizing this channel in an automated and data-driven way. Given its benefits, it makes sense that podcast advertising is forecast to continue to grow in the coming years.
Want even more insight into the audio opportunities available within to digital marketers? Check out our digital audio advertising guide for a deeper dive.