Voxnest: Podcast Listening Behaviors Differ by Category


Voxnest did a deep dive of podcast listening behaviors and found that listening behaviors, based on the podcast's category, significantly differ. Which means that, publishing time, based on the podcast's category, truly matters. Additionally, advertisers can utilize this data to partner with specific podcast categories in order to develop more time-specific ads.

In its report "Not All Listeners Are the Same," Voxnest decided to take a look at the top podcast categories in the U.S. and Europe over the last month and according to this recent data -- sourced from VAN -- there are some significant listening behavior differences based on continent and category. 

Top five podcast categories in the U.S. 

1. Religion
2. Culture
3. Sports
4. History
5. News & Information

Top five podcast categories in Europe

1. Business
2. Culture
3. Psychology
4. History
5. Education

Because the category "Culture" is pretty vague, Voxnest found within the top five podcasts in the U.S. that the culture category are "Southern Fried True Crime" and "True Murder: The Most Shocking Killers." In the same vain, two of the top five podcasts in the Europe culture category are "Kryminatorium" and "Those Conspiracy Guys." While the category has a large scope of topics, it's clear to see that true crime podcasts (no surprise) make up a signicant piece of the category and contribute to its popularity in both the U.S. and Europe. 

It's important to note here that while the Culture category is the most noticeably large and vague of the top five within both the U.S. and Europe, generally speaking, podcast categories are very large and lack specicity. However, some change is coming later this summer, as Apple recently announced. While adding new categories and sub-categories won't completely solve the podcast organization issue, Voxnest says it's a sign that the industry in rethinking categories as a whole, which could have major implications for producers and advertisers. 

Voxnest said the top four insights that, if examined and incorporated, could help niche podcasters gain even more traction in the audio world:

1. Regardless of category, there are some overarching key times when listeners are consuming podcasts the most. Within the U.S., 7-8am and 9-10pm are consistently the top performing hours. Within Europe, 7am and 5pm are the most popular listening times. The data patterns spell it out clearly; regardless of location, podcasts are a part of consumers' morning commutes and nightly routines. Listeners are opting to take a portion of time that used to be lulled with silence and are choosing to instead learn or be entertained. During a morning commute, listeners may be less engaged while they perform other tasks (i.e. driving). Conversely, those listening at home in the evenings could be prepared for more deep and connected listening. Either way, podcasters should be aware of the potential differences in listening times. 

2. Not all listeners are equal. Depending on the category, consideration should be made for publishing time.  Take, for example, the data from the U.S. "News & Information" category. It's clear to see that listeners are consuming their news in the evening. This information could come as a surprise to some publishers, so it is important to note that listeners are searching for a "wrap-up" of their day and that they're engaged with this category while at home.

3. With the vague and large nature of podcast categories, finding advertising partners can be a challenge. As Voxnest spelled out in the report, it's hard to avoid the glaring issue of how podcasts are organized right now. It's a problem because if advertisers are unable to understand what a particular podcast is about, how can publishers sell it? In short, it means a lot more work on the part of the publisher. So while categories aren't the only factor to consider when looking at podcast behaviors, Voxnest utilized the data to start understanding listeners a little bit better. 

4. Listening behaviors of the podcast's category could be important factors used to inform publishers' marketing and promotion plans. Podcasts are no longer looked at simply as podcasts. They have unique categories, sub-categories, topics, guests, etc... Which means that one podcasts' marketing plan should look drastically different from another. Taking listening times into consideration should be just the start of building a listener prole so that publishers can market directly to their unique listeners.


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