The Podcast Moment

The Podcast Moment

CES 2017 is officially underway, and Spotify is on the ground in Las Vegas talking about how streaming and audio are reshaping the media landscape. On Tuesday (Jan. 4), our own VP of Global Agencies and Partnerships, Alex Underwood, led a Spotify panel on the C Space Storytellers stage, sparking a fascinating discussion about  how audio has changed, what it means for marketers and where it’s headed in the future.

“Audio is clearly the engine of emotion,” said Tony Mennuto, President of Wordsworth and Booth, during the panel. “Emotion inspires, motivates, helps us see possibilities that we might not rationally envision. That’s a lot of opportunity for advertisers.”

Later this week, we’ll be releasing audio recordings of all talks on the Storytellers Stage on Spotify, including keynotes and panels from Google, Hulu and Nielsen. You can check out the full schedule of events here. Just like your favorite songs and podcasts on Spotify, you’ll be able to download these audio recordings offline and listen at your leisure, in the moment you choose.

Turning up the volume on podcasts.

As podcasts continue to surge in popularity, they’re becoming a key way to reach a highly engaged audience, specifically with audio messaging. That’s because podcasts fit perfectly into moments like driving or running, when listeners’ eyes are focused on the activity at hand and their ears are free to listen to a true crime story, enjoy an in-depth celebrity interview or learn about the history of slot machines—all enabled by connected devices, homes, and cars.

In a recent study from Bridge Ratings, their monthly polls showed that general podcast consumption has increased by 27% in the past year alone, with a third of the surveyed population listening. The amount of people who had listened to a podcast in the last week increased by 40%, showing that listening frequency is also on the rise.

Plugged in: Why podcasts are more intimate

While it’s no secret that podcasts are growing, we wanted to understand how the podcast audience’s mindset is different, and what makes spoken-word audio content valuable for brands. We talked to a few experts in the audio and podcasting field, including Karen Pearson of the UK-based audio production company Folded Wing.

“One of the reasons podcasts continue to grow is that people control what they are listening to with a podcast,” Pearson says. “It fits into your life whenever. Because you are listening, not watching something, it is not taking over the whole of your brain. It becomes part of your life.”

Lea Thau, producer and former director of The Moth podcast and current host and creator of Strangers, describes how podcasts helped to create an intimate connection with audiences, by engaging their mind in a different way than video. “People actually listen. The fact that you’re talking in somebody’s head and they can also choose when they listen means you have the ability to curate your own experience. Podcasters can take the freedom to be more intimate and share things that might feel almost inappropriate on the radio.”

People listen to learn.

Podcast listeners aren’t just a growing audience. They’re a valuable one, too, thanks to their mindset while listening. According to a recent study by Comscore, which surveyed 2,000 U.S. listeners aged 18-49, people felt more “connected, intelligent and energized” after listening to a podcast. The study also found that out of all types of digital ads, advertisements associated with a podcast were found to be least intrusive. Two-thirds of listeners have acted on ads they heard in a podcast, either by researching a product or service or by actually purchasing something they first heard about in an episode.

“This is a massive medium where people are engaged,” says Tim Sims, VP of Inventory Partnerships at The Trade Desk. “Podcasts are a powerful type of content for marketers to participate in, They are listening. They are focused on what they are listening to. They can also correctly recall who the sponsor of the podcast was. It is incredible.”

Why are listeners so willing to engage with podcast ads? For one, because podcasters have been equally willing to innovate with their advertising. “Audio advertising is changing,” says Pearson. “It’s not just your traditional 30-second spot you get on the radio. It actually becomes part of the content. Now people understand that [in order] to listen to the podcast, they have to listen to that ad.” And streaming platforms provide rich data to better connect audiences with the right content at the right time,  creating more relevant experiences for listeners.

The content and the platforms are both in place. Now, it’s up to brands to innovate in this space and connect with their audience.


Audio recordings from CES, including our panel on “The Power of Audio,” will be available next week on the Spotify platform.

At Spotify, we’re committed to helping brands and marketers understand the power of audio. Karen, Lea, and Tim’s interviews are part of larger research we’ve conducted around audio that we’ll be sharing more of later this month. To hear more sign up here:
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