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Are Podcast Listeners Open to More Ads?

Survey from Cumulus and Signal Hill says yes, explores trends in medium

podcast listenerhip, Cumulus Podcast Network, Signal Hill Insights, podcast commercials
A graphic from the report. Weekly listeners are using more platforms now but Apple, Spotify and YouTube still “have a strong hold.” (Click here to enlarge.)

Podcast listeners feel that podcasts are “under-commercialized.”

That’s one of the findings of a report from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights, which since 2017 have periodically issued “podcast download reports” and have just done so for spring 2021.

This one was released to coincide with the IAB Podcast Upfront event, where its finding that listeners would tolerate more ads is likely to be well received. The report also said that “high CPMs” are justified based on the high “ad attentiveness” of podcast listeners.

[Read: Survey Says Podcast Demographics Continue to Diversify]

Results were announced by Suzanne Grimes, EVP marketing for Cumulus Media and president of Westwood One, and Jeff Vidler, president and founder of Signal Hill Insights.

They listed these highlights in a report summary:

  • Among weekly podcast listeners, COVID-19 was a catalyst for yet more listening.
  • Regular listenership is “growing across most podcast genres, suggesting that weekly podcast listeners are venturing out and listening to new genres.”
  • Weekly listeners are enthusiastic about their favorites. Almost half reported listening to their favorite podcast within a day of a new release.
  • “Pitching ad-free podcast subscriptions won’t win over listeners,” the study found. “Content is the main attraction for weekly podcast listeners. When choosing podcast subscription features, weekly listeners will pick exclusive content over an ad-free experience.”
  • They called Clubhouse “a natural brand extension for podcast shows and hosts.” Awareness and use of Clubhouse was greater among weekly podcast listeners compared to the U.S. general population.
  • Weekly listeners are using more platforms now, but Apple, Spotify and YouTube still “have a strong hold on being the most used podcast platforms and continue to grow at the expense of other competitors.”
  • Podcasts are “unique, being one of the few mediums where listeners come for entertainment and learning, cultivating an engaged audience.”
  • They found that listeners feel that podcasts are “under-commercialized.” Weekly listeners “are comfortable hearing ads and the more time they spend with podcasts, the more ads they will accept.”
  • And they said high CPMs are justified based high ad attentiveness in podcasting.

The report is available for download at CumulusPodcastNetwork.com.

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