New York Times READ

Study: Podcast Audience is a WOM Powerhouse

Published by Engagement Labs July 01, 2021


“Even before COVID-19, the podcast industry was seeing rapid growth, with monthly listeners reaching 645mn globally in 2019 and advertising revenues growing at a double-digit rate; industry revenues are poised to more than double by 2024,” according to PwC’s Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020-2024.

Good news for podcast advertisers: we have strong evidence that the podcast audience is a word of mouth powerhouse. They talk more about brands across a variety of categories – in fact more so than the audience for any other medium including social media. And they are richer in word of mouth influencers, as well. Given the important tie between word of mouth advocacy and sales, they are a marketers dream audience.

According to newly released Engagement Labs data, heavy podcast listeners, who on average listen to 1 or more hours of podcasts per day, engage in more than 100 offline conversations per week about products, services and brands. This compares to 76 weekly conversations for the general public – an increase of 34%.

Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021

At 102 weekly WOM conversations, these heavy podcast listeners are at the top of the list versus other media. Heavy social media users and heavy radio listeners are tied for second, both close behind at 99 offline conversations per week, with heavy TV viewers at a distant 67 conversations per week.

Average Weekly Conversations Among Total Public

Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021

Moving from total conversations to conversations by category, podcast listeners outperform the general public across each of 15 categories. Food/dining and media/entertainment lead the way. And the gaps between the podcast audience and the general public is particularly wide in categories such as technology, children’s products, beauty and personal care, sports and retail/apparel.

Average Weekly Conversations by Category

Average Weekly Category Conversations Among Heavy Podcast Listeners

Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021

More influential, too

Heavy podcast listeners not only engage in more word of mouth, they are also richer in their concentration of WOM influencers than other media. Compared to the total public, they are 54% more likely to be influential – once again, placing them ahead of heavy radio listeners (+34%) and heavy social media users (+25%). Heavy TV viewers, meanwhile, index at 89.

% of Influencers Indexed to Total Public

Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021

The highest number of influential consumers among heavy podcast listeners are in the telecom category who index at 208 versus the general public when it comes to their concentration of category influencers. This followed by everyday influencers of wine & spirits (178 index), beauty and personal care (169), financial services (165) and travel services (164).

% of Heavy Podcast Listeners Identified as Category Influencers

Source: Engagement Labs, July 2021

One indicator of the value consumer conversations is that they tend to occur among very influential consumers or what we call the “everyday influencers” who have large social networks and regularly make recommendations. Becoming a beloved and enthusiastically recommended brand involves connecting with consumers through purpose-driven storytelling, delivering great experiences, and refreshing the connection through innovative marketing and advertising.

Marketers should keep this all-in mind as they plan and respond to the rapidly changing nature of consumer behaviors and conversations. While social media may send one signal, what people talk about and what impacts them the most is often much more complex and a major reason why offline and online are often uncorrelated to each other

The combination of TotalSocial data and insights and well-crafted storytelling can help brands and companies achieve their goals whether to development of original programming, grow their user base, or maximize customer retention and usage.


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