Weekly Insights · June 8, 2022

Audio Consumers in the U.S. are Buying Their Way out of Ads

By Edison Research

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I was at a school function for my eighth-grader recently and as the students filed to the front of the gym to receive their certificates, there was lovely instrumental music from a streaming service playing over the PA system. How do I know it was a streaming service? Because at some point during the reading of the names, the music stopped, one ad played, and the music started again. Everyone held their breath for a moment in suspense as the advertiser was revealed and since it was family-friendly all was well. There were several chuckles and a few relieved sighs that went through the crowd.

The reactions to that ad break are a great example of this week’s insight: Audio Consumers in the U.S are buying their way out of ads (with actual money).  The graph below is a trend graph for two demos in the U.S., those age 13+ and those age 13-34, and it shows how the percentage of daily time with ad-supported vs. ad-free audio has changed since 2015. Please note this graph is not a percentage of listeners, but it is a percentage of daily time spent with audio.

Let’s first acknowledge that ad-supported audio still comes at a cost to the listener, and that cost is time. Listeners to ad-supported audio can “pay” for the audio by listening to (sometimes extended) ad breaks. Of course, the best audio experiences ensure that the ad content is entertaining and informative for the listener.

Two things to note in the graph above:

1. The percentage of daily time spent with ad-free audio has grown by 34% since 2015.  As of Q1 2022, 39% of listening done by those age 13+ is to ad-free audio, up from 29% in 2015. 

2. The rate of change for younger people is even higher, as the daily time spent with ad-free audio among those age 13-34 has risen by 43% since 2015. As of Q1 2022, 50% of daily listening done by age 13-34 is to ad-free audio, up from 35% in 2015. It’s notable that half of all daily audio consumed by 13-34-year-olds in the U.S. is ad-free.

Registration for The Infinite Dial 2022 Australia is now open
We are also happy to announce that registration for The Infinite Dial® 2022 Australia is now open! The webinar is at 10.30am AEST on Tuesday, June 28th, which means it is 8.30pm EDT on Monday, June 27th — please note the Monday night time for those of you in the U.S.  Thank you to major sponsor, Commercial Radio Australia, for enabling us to bring this study to Australia, and to co-sponsors LiSTNR and Triton Digital®.   

Edison Research President Larry Rosin will present the 30-minute webinar, which will provide a detailed insight into Australians’ digital audio behavior as they adjust to life after COVID-19 lockdowns.  

We hope you can join us for The Infinite Dial 2022 Australia! Click here to register

Laura Ivey
Director of Research

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