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Podcast Listeners Reveal Secrets About Ad Loads

Westwood One's just released Podcast Download Fall 2017 Report takes a look at the consumption habits of podcast listeners and discovered some major takeaways on their tolerance for advertising within the on-demand space. The report is an in-depth examination of multiple podcast touchpoints such as at how many commercials podcast listeners are willing to sit through and how they want commercial breaks organized. It also introduces the concept of speed listening (increasing the speed of a podcast) and what it means for advertisers.

The report was created in partnership with MARU/Vision Critical to give brands, content creators, and podcast producers a look at the consumption habits and attitudes of these coveted media junkies. Key findings from the report were revealed in New York City at the third annual Interactive Advertising Bureau's Podcast Upfront showcase. These findings include:

  • Heavy podcast listeners are voracious media and tech junkies. Heavy podcast listeners (adults 18+ who have listened to 6+ hours of podcasts in the last week) represent 69% of weekly hours listened. They are far more likely to use new tech platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. They are also voracious consumers of streaming video like Netflix and Hulu, heavy users of AM/FM radio, and consume more TV than the average weekly podcast listener. Overall, podcast consumers are super audio consumers, spending 47% more time with audio daily, per Edison's Share of Ear.
  • Podcasts are under commercialized; there is an opportunity to add more commercial breaks and ad units. The more people listen, the more welcoming they are of podcast advertising. Heavy listeners say can they can accept more ad breaks and more ads. The longer the podcast, the more accepting listeners are to multiple ad breaks. 39% say a 60-minute show with six ads could have three or more ad breaks.
  • Heavy podcast consumers are more accepting of pre-produced ads. Weekly podcast listeners (adults 18+ who have listened in the last week) prefer host voice reads.
  • There is an opportunity for an ad-free, paid podcast subscription model. Half of weekly podcast listeners and nearly 70% of heavy podcast listeners are open to the concept. Listeners would pay $5 a month a month. Heavy podcast listeners would pay $6 a month for an ad-free version of their favorite podcast.
  • More listens than downloads? Interestingly, podcast listeners say they listen to 24% more podcasts than they download a week (5.6 listens versus 4.5 downloads). Heavy podcast listeners say they listen to 9.6 podcasts a week and download 7.8 a week. This flies in the face of the notion that consumers download far more shows than they listen to. Not so with the most habitual and frequent podcast listeners.
  • Speed listening is real. 42% of weekly podcast listeners say they have increased the speed of the podcast. Half of heavy podcast listeners have speed-listened. This DVR-style "ad zipping" is a reality for podcasting. Should ads be voiced more slowly to be more understandable at higher speeds?
"The insights revealed on stage at the IAB Podcast Upfront, and in the Podcast Download Fall 2017 report, are a direct reflection of what the most passionate podcast consumers want in an optimized listening experience," said Suzanne Grimes, EVP, Corporate Marketing, Cumulus Media and President, Westwood One. "Uncovering the opportunity of greater ad loads, the rise of 'speed listening' and a subscription opportunity is valuable information for marketers, content creators, and podcast producers exploring new revenue models. We are bullish on podcasting at Westwood One and are actively investing resources to learn as much as we can about this fascinating and fertile audio space."

The full report is available for download on WestwoodOne.com.

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Chuck Powell
Chuck Powell
KJR-AM (Sports Radio 950)/Seattle will debut of the new "Chuck and Buck" in mornings and Jason Puckett in middays, effective March 26. Chuck and Buck will air weekdays from 6-10am More

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Westwood One: Laura Okmin co-hosted Westwood One's Today in PyeongChang, a nightly two-hour live broadcast that airs each day and providing coverage of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. Pictured is Okmin with alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, who won a bronze medal in the downhill.