Who’s listening to podcasts? Our latest data says 21% of consumers are, and every week at that. Breathing fresh air into traditional broadcast radio formats, on-demand (and sometimes controversial) podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience, The Daily, and Call Her Daddy are all popular shows attracting global listeners in search of audio entertainment or information.

While Spotify still dominates podcast hosting with over 4 million shows available to stream on the platform, competitors like TikTok are entering the podcast space for a slice of the audio action. Clearly, there’s money to be made. 

Here’s a rundown of the 9 key podcast statistics in 2022 every marketer should know about.

1. 71% of podcast listeners are Gen Z/millennials

Podcast fans tend to skew young. In 8 markets, 39% of Gen Z say they listen mostly (or even exclusively) to podcasts, while 32% mostly listen to music. 

As for millennials, 1 in 5 are weekly podcast listeners and average an hour of listening every day. 

It just goes to show how well-embedded podcasts are in consumers’ lives, and how appealing this form of audio is for younger generations in particular.

2. Kids can’t get enough of comedy podcasts

Speaking of young podcast audiences, our GWI Kids data reveals 24% of children aged 12-15 now listen to them, up 11% from Q1 2021. Of those who listen to podcasts, nearly 1 in 5 kids tune in daily

The top-performing podcasts for kids are:

Gen Alpha’s penchant for podcasts is a fascinating trend. Despite growing up in a tech-fueled world surrounded by the likes of smartphones, gaming consoles, and tablets, kids are still finding time to switch off and take a break from screens. 

Is this paving the way for an audio-centric future where wellbeing comes first? Stay tuned. 

3. Average podcast listening time is increasing

It comes as no surprise that as podcasts become more popular with consumers, listening time is climbing. Our Core data shows on average, millennials spend over an hour listening to them every day. 

Within the last 2 years (Q1 2020 – Q1 2022) the average time consumers spend listening to podcasts each day has increased by 4 minutes. It’s even higher for older consumers, rising to 6 minutes. 

And while younger listeners are still winning on the podcast consumptionfront (spending more time listening overall), it’s interesting to see a faster rise among the older generations.

4. Spotify is the top podcast streaming service

Spotify listening stats deserve a mention here. As the number one music streaming service used by consumers worldwide, you won’t be shocked to hear 54% of podcast listeners have used the platform in the last month. It’s a big hit with millennials – outside China, 45% of millennials say they use Spotify. 

With the streaming giant holding pole position in the audio market, podcast ad revenue is stacking up. Spotify reported 40% annual growth, seeing a 15% increase in podcast listeners using the service since Q1 2021.

So who are the other contenders competing for the podcast hosting crown? YouTube Music has grown 28%, while Amazon Prime Music isn’t far behind, seeing 17% growth in the last year. Watch this space.

5. True crime podcasts are killing it in the US

Podcast listening is up 13% in the States, proving its popularity across the pond. Interestingly, our GWI USA data shows women in the US are 37% more likely to listen to true crime podcasts than the average listener.

Consumers can’t seem to get enough of grizzly tales. My Favorite Murderand Morbid are still two of the most popular podcasts on the planet, so it’s safe to say the true crime trend you’ve heard so much about is here to stay.

Looking more broadly at podcast consumption habits in America, comedy shows top the genre charts (27%), closely followed by news and politics (24%). 

6. Podcasts are for life (not just commuting)

Podcasting came into its own during Covid as an escape for commuters tentatively returning to offices. But the latest trends show they’ve now wiggled their way into consumers’ home lives too:

Post-pandemic, audio continues to boom. Now engrained in domestic environments, there’s a podcast out there for every activity, mood, topic, and genre to satisfy consumers’ interests. It’s a well of untapped opportunity for brands looking to hook new audiences.

7. 64% of podcast listeners say music is their top interest

Unsurprisingly, music is podcast listeners’ top interest, with 54% saying they’ve listened to a music streaming service in the last week. That makes a lot of sense when you know Spotify is the reigning podcast champ. 

Podcasters are also 37% more likely than the average consumer to be interested in live events, with 32% saying they’re always on the lookout for new live music events. It’s a decent advertising arena for this industry. 

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Podcast fans are 58% more likely than the average to be interested in vegan food. It’s a random crossover point, but unique audience insights like this shine a light on podcast marketing opportunities you’ve probably never considered before. 

Advertising food for thought? We think so.

8. Brand discovery through podcast ads is growing

12% of consumers say they discover new brands/products through podcast ads and sponsored content. That number might not seem big – with brand discovery through other audio formats like music streaming (13%) and radio (13%) still leading the way – but it’s jumped 10% since Q3 2019. 

In fact, audio ads are among the fastest growing sources of brand discovery in our data, while TV ads continue to decline.

One thing to be aware of here – many marketers are moving away from host-read ads in favor of programmatic ads that drive revenue at scale. But interestingly, this actually conflicts with what podcast audiences want. More on this next.

9. Over 1/3 of consumers don’t like automated ads

Across 9 markets, our Zeitgeist data reveals 18% of consumers say they don’t like automated podcast ads because they interrupt the conversation. 

That said, over a quarter want promotions that blend in with the host’s style (in other words, read by them), and a fifth would like a monetary benefit, such as a discount.

The key takeaway here? For more effective podcast marketing, give the host creative freedom to read your ads, and promote products relevant to the interests of the listeners you’re targeting with a discount or perk.

If that isn’t compelling enough to convince you to start podcasting – or at least target podcast listeners with relevant ads and sponsored content – we don’t know what is.

By Becky Boyle – Senior Copywriter at GWI

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