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Ad Agency Assesses “Serial” Effect

Listener survey reveals habits are different with this breakout hits

There is now evidence to support the idea that “Serial” podcast listeners are a separate breed.

The podcast’s creators and advertising agency McKinney shared the results of the first survey of “Serial”’s newsletter subscribers at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in a panel called “Binge-Worthy Journalism: A Conversation With the Creators of ‘Serial.’”

McKinney fielded one online survey to explore attitudes and behaviors toward podcasts among “Serial” newsletter subscribers versus general podcast listeners in the United States.

“In just 90 minutes, more than 5,600 people completed the survey, which is basically one completed survey for every second the survey was available,” said Julie Snyder, co-creator and executive producer of “Serial.”

Almost a quarter of subscribers said “Serial” was the first podcast they’d ever listened to, and 90% of first-time listeners said it changed the way they think about the medium. After “Serial,” 89% of first-time listeners were inspired to try more podcasts, and half are now listening to podcasts on a weekly basis.

The majority (87%) of “Serial” subscribers agreed with the statement: “Serial” stand outs as a completely different kind of podcast.

Generally, 57% of podcast listeners said that they always give their full attention to their favorite podcasts, while 93% of “Serial” subscribers said they always gave their full attention to “Serial.”

Almost all (93%) “Serial” subscribers talked about the podcast with friends and family, while 44% of general listeners reported talking about their favorite podcast. While 29% of general podcast listeners looked online for more information about their favorite podcast, 78% of subscribers went online to look for more details.

Also 79% of “Serial” subscribers agreed that they found “Serial” to be “very addictive.” Almost all (99%) subscribers listened to all 12 episodes, and 55% listened to at least one episode more than once.

“The recall associated with ads that surrounded ‘Serial’ content is a testament to the value of appointment listening and a minimally cluttered environment, said McKinney Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude.

Of “Serial” subscribers who listened during the podcast’s release, 81% correctly recalled a Season One sponsor. Of those, 92% recalled that one of the sponsors was MailChimp, and 95% correctly identified it as an email marketing service.

McKinney was responsible for the survey design, data analysis and reporting. The survey was conducted in June among a sample of 6,300 “Serial” newsletter subscribers, aged 18+, living in the U.S., as well as 500 U.S. adults 18+ with access to the Internet who listen to podcasts. The general podcast listener sample was procured through ResearchNow and was balanced to the U.S. adult podcast listener population on key demographics.