Podcasting in 2010: The Calm Surface Obscures The Roiling Depths

I’m really excited to be presenting a significant session at this year’s Blogworld entitled The Current State of Podcasting. This one’s going to be a little different than what you’ve seen in previous years, where I’ve gone in and done my traditional bucketful of numbers augmented by folksy analogies. We’ve been tracking podcasting at Edison for five years now, with yearly reports on the growth and composition of the podcast audience, and even some work on the effectiveness of podcast advertising. Over that time, two things have happened, oddly simultaneously. First, podcasting from the audience perspective has grown steadily every year, from 11% of Americans having ever listened to an audio podcast in 2006, to the current figure, just under one in four. Second, however, podcasting as a “business” has changed in a somewhat counterintuitive fashion. In 2006-2007, when I first presented our data in places like the Corporate Podcasting Summit and the Podcast and New Media Expo, there were scores of startups in the podcasting space – content creators, aggregators, ad networks, specialty hosting companies, measurement companies and consultants. Chris Brogan and Christopher Penn started PodCamp as a way for independent podcasters to get together and learn from each other. Hardware and software makers alike converged on podcasting, and there were all manner of devices, podcatching software and specialist portals created to serve the space.
Today, the podcasting-specific conferences are gone. Blogworld has absorbed the best of the old PNME, of course, and this year’s excellent Digital Broadcasting track reflects the finest the field has to offer for podcasters of all stripes. Look, however, through the lens of the trusty wayback machine, at the sponsors from the 2006 PNME. How many are still in business? And, of those that are, how many remain podcast-focused? Even the venerable (in Internet years) PodCamp really isn’t about podcasting anymore, as it too has morphed into more of a generalist’s gathering of content creators of all stripes, with – of course – the obligatory heavy focus on social media. Yesterday’s podcasting experts are today’s social media gurus. This isn’t a knock – it’s an observation (and, of course, the social media space has become a significantly bigger market in a much shorter period of time than has podcasting, so for most it has been a smart shift.) In the words of BT, the only constant is change.
Yet, podcasting has never been more popular, never touched as many lives, and never made as much money as it does today. Though there have been dozens of Podangos, Todd Cochrane has built a pretty nice business with RawVoice. ESPN and NPR have taken podcasting to new heights of mass-appeal awareness and acceptance. Consolidation was inevitable, yes, but today there are success stories with advertising-supported models, sponsorship models and premium content models to be found all over the Interwebs.
podcast_listening_2010.pngAll of which leads to this innocuous-looking graph. The story this graph tells is one of calm, steady ascent – not exponential growth, but not a flatline either. In short, a nice, steady picture of incremental growth for podcasting as a medium. This graph, however, describes the calm surface over what turns out to be a far greater “sea” change below. For while the overall audience numbers show gradual shifts, the makeup of that audience has changed in some subtle, and some not-so-subtle ways. The podcasting audience is not only bigger than they were in 2006, they are different. In 2006, the podcasting world was full of bright thinkers with big ideas to capture the nascent podcasting audience. Today, many of those initial entrepreneurs have moved on to the next, new thing (and, in some cases, to chasing the same elusive early adopters that proved to be unmonetizable in podcasting’s early days.) Yet, if you dive below the surface of today’s podcast consumers to understand just how this audience has changed as it has grown, there is enormous opportunity for those willing to take a fresh look at the space.
Today, podcasting is generally seen as part of a channel strategy – a valid part of a multi-platform digital buy. Yet the shifts in podcasting’s audience – those roiling depths beneath the calm trend line of that graph above – suggest that there is yet another act in podcasting’s play, for those who truly understand the trends and can capitalize upon these latent opportunities. That’s why I am genuinely excited about my session at Blogworld (and not just in the Press Release version of “excited,” either). Instead of only presenting a snapshot of data – the 2010 podcast statistics – I’m going to be doing a deep dive into five years of our data, and five years of covering the space as an analyst, to really uncover the shifts that have taken place beneath podcasting’s surface over the past half-decade. I promise you, you will leave this session with new ideas, new action items, and maybe even a new perspective on an “old” digital medium.
I hope to see you there.

The Infinite Dial 2010: Use of Social Media Explodes

Almost Half of Americans Have Profiles Says New Arbitron/Edison Research Study

Study Also Reveals Younger Consumers Eager to Adopt Mobile Digital Radio

The percentage of Americans age 12 and older who have a profile on one or more social networking Web sites has reached almost half (48 percent) of the population in 2010 – double the level from two years ago (24 percent in 2008), according to the new national survey from Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB) and Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2010: Digital Platforms and the Future of Radio.

The new study, released today, also reveals that consumer use of social networking sites is not just a youth phenomenon. While nearly eight in ten teens (78 percent) and 18 to 24s (77 percent) have personal profile pages, almost two-thirds of 25 to 34s (65 percent) and half of 35 to 44s (51 percent) also now have personal profile pages. The study also shows that 30 percent of Americans age 12 and older, who have a profile on at least one social networking Web site, use those sites “several times a day” compared with only 18 percent one year ago.

“The use of social networking sites has expanded beyond younger consumers, with substantial numbers of Americans over the age of 35 now using social media,” said Bill Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Arbitron Inc.

“Social networking has become a part of mainstream media behavior,” said Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research.

Since 1998, this notable research series has reported on and analyzed consumer use of the Internet, digital platforms and their impact on radio.

“Americans continue to hold radio in high regard, with nearly eight in ten saying they plan to listen to as much AM/FM radio in the future as they do now – despite advances of technology” said Arbitron’s Bill Rose.

“Younger consumers show interest in radio on mobile phones,” said Tom Webster from Edison Research. “More than four in ten mobile phone owners age 12 to 24 say they would listen more to FM radio if a tuner were built into those phones.”


Key Findings about Radio and Digital Platforms:

Nearly one in four Americans has listened to audio from an iPod or other MP3 player connected to a car stereo: Although consumers often have to deal with myriad adapters and other barriers to in-car listening, 54 percent of iPod/MP3 player owners have listened to their device in their car; this equates to 24 percent of all persons age 12 and older having listened to an iPod, iPhone or other MP3 player while connected to a car stereo.

Three in ten 12 to 24s are “very interested” in online radio in the car and on mobile devices: Among those age 12 to 24, 30 percent are “very interested” in listening to online radio in-car, while 28 percent are “very interested” in listening to online radio on mobile devices.

Consumers say radio station Web sites are improved but TV and print sites are leading the local battle: Nearly half of people age 12 and older give credit to radio for improvements in their Web sites. Forty- eight percent say that radio station Web sites have gotten more interesting compared to 17 percent believing them to be worse or less interesting. However, monthly visitation to radio station Web sites (16 percent) among persons 12+ lags visitation to local TV and local newspaper Web sites.

Other key findings:

The Internet passes TV as most essential medium in Americans’ lives: For the first time, more Americans say the Internet is “most essential” to their lives when given a choice along with television, radio, and newspapers; 42 percent chose the Internet as “most essential,” with 37 percent selecting television, 14 percent choosing radio, and 5 percent said newspapers. While television still leads among those over the age of 45, Internet dominates among younger persons age 12 to 44.

More than six in ten households with Internet access have a Wi-Fi network at home: Sixty-two percent of homes with Internet access have wireless network set-ups in their homes, more easily enabling the consumption of digital media in any room of their home, as more and more devices feature built-in Wi-Fi such as the new Apple iPad.

Texting has become a daily activity for nearly half of all mobile phone owners: Nearly half of mobile phone owners (45 percent) age 12 and older text multiple times a day. Three quarters of teens (75 percent) and persons age 18 to 24 (76 percent) text multiple times a day compared with nearly two thirds (63 percent) of 25 to 34s; and four in ten (42 percent) 35 to 44s and 45 to 54s (37 percent).

Broadband access has leveled and growth has stabilized for some digital platforms: Growth of residential broadband has leveled off, with 84 percent of homes with Internet access having broadband connections. The slower growth of residential broadband is associated with little year over year change in weekly usage of online radio (17 percent) and online video (29 percent). The study suggests that expanded use of use of mobile devices and in-car Internet may spark the next wave of growth.

This study, as well as previous studies, may be downloaded free of charge via the Arbitron and Edison Research Web sites at www.arbitron.com and www.edisonresearch.com.

How the study was conducted

A total of 1,753 people were interviewed to investigate Americans’ use of digital platforms and new media. From January 25 to February 22, 2010, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older chosen at random from a national sample of Arbitron’s Fall 2009 survey diarykeepers and through random digit dialing (RDD) sampling in certain geographic areas where Arbitron diarykeepers were not available for the survey. Diarykeepers represent 51% of the completed interviews and RDD sampled respondents represent 49% of the completed interviews. The study includes a total of 371 cell phone interviews.

About Arbitron

Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB) is a media and marketing information services firm primarily serving radio, television, cable, advertising agencies, advertisers, retailers, out-of-home media, and online media. Arbitron’s core businesses are measuring and estimating network and local market radio audiences across the United States; providing application software used for analyzing our media audience and marketing information data; and providing consumer, shopping, and other media usage information services. The Company has developed the Portable People MeterTM, a new technology for media and marketing research.

About Edison Research


Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to radio stations, television stations, newspapers, cable networks, record labels, Internet companies and other media organizations. Edison Research is also the sole provider of election exit poll data for the six major news organizations: ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press.  Edison Research works with many of the largest American radio ownership groups, including Entercom, Citadel, CBS Radio, Bonneville and Westwood One; and also conducts strategic and opinion research for a broad array of companies including Time Warner, Google, Yahoo!, Sony Music, Princeton University, Northwestern University, Universal Music Group, Time Life Music and the Voice of America. Edison Research has a sixteen year history of thought-leadership in media research, and has provided services to successful media properties in South America, Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe.

Portable People MeterTM and PPMTM are marks of Arbitron Inc.

The Edison/ADM Consumer Attitudes To Podcast Advertising Study

In January, 2010, Edison Research and the Association for Downloadable Media collaborated on a significant survey of consumer attitudes about podcast advertising and sponsorships. Findings of the survey included the following:

Other findings of this study included the following:

*Nearly 80% of these podcast consumers agreed that “when price and quality is equal,” they “prefer to buy products from companies that advertise on or sponsor” the podcasts they regularly enjoy.

*37% of these respondents expressed some positive sentiment about advertising in the podcasts they regularly listen to or watch, compared to only 6% positive sentiment expressed for the advertising approaches of television or commercial radio.

*In fact, 78% of these respondents agreed (and 21% agreed strongly) that their opinion of a company is more positive when they hear it mentioned in one of the podcasts they regularly enjoy.

*In addition, 72% of these respondents were at least somewhat receptive to sponsorship messages in the podcasts they regularly enjoy, with 5% indicating that they are generally “interested in them and/or often find them useful.” When sponsorship or advertising messages are read by the host(s) of the podcasts themselves, again 72% are receptive, but 20% indicate that those messages are generally interesting and useful.

Watch the complete slideshow below.

The Edison/ADM Consumer Attitudes To Podcast Advertising Study from Tom Webster on Vimeo.

Survey Methodology

Respondents in this online survey were recruited using audio/video messages embedded in podcasts from some of the leading aggregators of downloadable media, including NPR, Wizzard, RawVoice and Revison3, during the 4th quarter of 2009. Interviews were conducted from 10/20 to 11/16, with a final tally of 4,787 completed surveys. Raw results from the survey were weighted to reflect the demographic composition of the U.S. audience for audio and video podcasts, as reported from nationally representative data sourced from the 17th Edison Research/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia Study (2009) and The Podcast Consumer Revealed (2009).

The Podcast Consumer 2009

This data presentation was originally delivered as a webinar in conjunction with the Association for Downloadable Media on May 21, 2009. The Podcast Consumer Revealed: 2009 is the fourth iteration of this widely-cited study of the growing audience for audio and video podcasts. Data for this research presentation is derived from the 17th Arbitron/Edison Research Internet & Multimedia Research Series, one of the longest-running and most comprehensive series of studies on consumer usage, adoption and behavior surrounding new media and technology.

This presentation was given by Edison’s Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Tom Webster, and runs approximately one hour with questions. The slides for the presentation can also be downloaded below. Highlights of this study include the following:

* Awareness of podcasting grew from 37% of Americans to 43%

* One in four Americans indicated that they have ever downloaded and watched/listened to an audio or video podcast

* The number one reason given for podcast consumption was time-shifting–the ability to consume content whenever the consumer desires.

* Podcast consumers continue to be attractive advertising targets; yet are increasingly unreachable through traditional, interrupt advertising

You can watch the entire presentation below.

Click here to download a .PDF file of the slides for The Podcast Consumer Revealed: 2009

The Podcast Consumer Revealed 2008

The Podcast Consumer Revealed 2008 is the third study in this annual series on podcast consumption, and contains data derived from the 2008 Arbitron/Edison Media Research Internet and Multimedia study. Highlights of this study were originally presented on April 16th at ad:tech SF, as a part of the Association for Downloadable Media’s “Get The Download” event.


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