New York – May 10th, 2023 – The growing popularity of podcasts is an indicator of the changing landscape of media entertainment, as more people are tuning in regularly to listen to their favorite podcasters. In turn, podcasters are becoming deeply entrenched in the cultural zeitgeist. MAGNA’s Media Trials unit joined forces with Vox Media to explore this emerging phenomenon; in particular, what is it about podcasts that resonates with people and how.
The research paper, A New Era of Influence: Podcasters’ Emergence as One of Today’s Most Influential Figures in Media looks at the nuances of the podcast media format and the unique connection between podcasters and listeners. In addition, the study outlines best practices for brands interested in advertising on the media format.
A New Era of Influence reveals that podcasters are so influential in the lives of their listeners, that 75% of listeners say they value podcasters’ influence more than they value the influence of social media influencers (15%) and TV/movie celebrities (10%) – meaning that podcasters have effectively de-throned the original influencers. Further, 75% of listeners say that podcasts serve as their primary source of information on topics in which they are most passionate and is highest among Millennials (86%). This is likely because podcasts fill a void that other media formats simply cannot. For example, podcasts offer more in-depth information (50%) and exposure to current topics and conversations (48%), compared to other media formats (e.g., social media and popular video apps).
In today’s landscape, people are forming new relationships with media as their expectations have changed. For many, media can serve as a mechanism for satisfying the desire for personal fulfillment (72%). This is especially true among Adult Gen Z (70%) and Millennials (80%), who now desire achieving personal fulfillment over connecting with others.
“By its nature, listening to podcasts is one of the more intimate media experiences and it stands to reason that people will form strong attachments with their favorite hosts, but we were surprised at the deep level of connection and trust that listeners feel for their favorite hosts,” said Edwin Wong, SVP for Insights and Innovation at Vox Media. “That podcasters have more clout than social media influencers and mainstream celebrities leads to a paradigm shift in thinking about who is the best endorser for properly aligned brands.”
This unparalleled level of intimacy and influence translates directly to a more memorable and effective ad experience. Over two in three listeners say they pay more attention to podcast ads than ads they come across elsewhere (e.g. TV, social media, etc.). Across genres, podcast ads are perceived as highly effective in both generating brand awareness and driving purchase intent. Podcasts represent an ideal environment for brands to share thoughtful brand messaging as listeners are highly receptive to detailed information while listening.
Podcasters’ influence extends to advertising and purchase decisions, especially among Millennials, 70% of whom say they have been persuaded to purchase by a podcast ad. Beyond driving purchases, podcast ads are highly effective in introducing new products or services to listeners (77%). Although podcasts present fewer barriers to purchase compared to other media formats (e.g., social media, television), there are still many opportunities for brands to improve the purchase experience for listeners.
“Advertisers have a great opportunity to forge close relationships with consumers by joining forces with a podcaster whose content, personality and point-of-view align with the audiences they are trying to reach,” said Kara Manatt, EVP, Managing Director, Intelligence Solutions, MAGNA. “Often, barriers to purchase are lower than other media formats and there are opportunities to catch a rising media personality at the start and be a part of a dynamic sponsor/host/consumer bond.”
A New Era of Influence Takeaways:
Podcasts content is uniquely trusted information. When people listen to podcasts, they aren’t just getting any content – they’re getting content that they deeply trust. Most listeners agree that the content they receive from podcasts is superior to the content they receive on social media (79%). This inherent trust can have an uplifting ripple effect across other content associated with the podcast, such as podcast ads.
Podcasts deliver on the desire for self-fulfillment. Aside from its practical use in disseminating information, podcasts are helping listeners achieve their inner desires. As such, 79% of listeners agree that listening to podcasts motivates them to be better versions of themselves. Therefore, podcasts effectively carry listeners through the trajectory of ideation through actualization.
Listening to podcasts enables smarter decision-making. Listening to podcasts is more than just a pastime, it’s a way to help listeners in their decision-making in nearly every facet in their lives. Most listeners agree that listening to podcasts have helped them make smarter decisions (77%), and more often than not turn to this format over social media for help when making these decisions.
Brands should not shy away from sharing descriptive information. While listeners are tuned in and in a receptive mindset, this is a prime opportunity for brands to share strong brand propositions and/or details. In fact, the description of the product/service is the #1 driver of purchases among listeners (Indexed at 124).
As part of this study, MAGNA conducted focus groups with individuals across the United States, as well as surveyed 2,028 people online, with geographic and demographic diversity for the report.
The full study may be found here.
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About Vox Media
Vox Media is the leading modern media company, reaching audiences everywhere they are. Known for editorial properties including Vox, SB Nation, New York Magazine, The Dodo, and Eater, the company’s portfolio features the most relevant, respected, and engaging editorial properties and voices. The company is also home to award-winning storytelling businesses such as Vox Media Studios and the Vox Media Podcast Network, as well as innovative technologies that support the entire media industry, including the Concert advertising marketplace. Vox Media proves that quality can scale.
Content Director, Global Corporate Communications