We’re in the midst of a podcast renaissance, marked by new shows about everything from true crime to improvisational comedy. In fact, 67 million people  listen to at least one podcast per month, according to research. And the number of listeners is growing.
Yet, many advertisers are still hesitant to make the leap from traditional print, television and radio ads to podcast advertising . They don’t know much about their listeners beyond basic gender, age and location demographics associated with a download.
Who are these listeners? What are they buying? More importantly, how are brands capitalizing on the audience?
The anatomy of a podcast advertisement
Two years ago, data-driven storytelling podcast FiveThirtyEight studied trends in podcast advertising  and learned that roughly 87 percent of podcast ads “were for products or services that acquire customers online: web-based services for businesses (e.g. ZipRecruiter.com), Web-based services for consumers (e.g. Squarespace) and Web-ordered physical products (e.g. Dollar Shave Club).”
Most of these ads were formatted similarly to native ads in print – hidden in the context of the show, itself, rather than playing as a recorded advertisement. Now in 2017, this format is still the most effective. Hosts who deliver ads as part of their show lend brands an added level of authenticity from the rapport they have built with their dedicated audience.
But still, podcasting metrics have been notoriously difficult to pin down. What constitutes a meaningful impression for advertisers? Does this hold true from one podcasting platform to another?
We were able to categorize types of podcast listeners into six distinct groups: The Fitness Fanatic, The Traveler, The Music Enthusiast, The Foodie, The Stable Homeowner and The Subscriber.
The fitness fanatic
Podcast listeners consider it important or very important to live a healthy lifestyle (63 percent); they exercise at least a few times a week (41 percent) and regularly drink bottled water (81 percent) or sports drinks (47 percent).
Seventy-seven percent of podcast listeners have traveled for leisure in the past year – primarily domestically (71 percent), but many intend to travel internationally in the next year (40 percent).
The traveler listens to podcasts in the car (77 percent) and on public transportation (20 percent), primarily on their smartphones.
The music enthusiast
More than half of all podcast listeners spend at least $50 a year going to concerts, and one in 10 listeners spend more than $500 a year to attend live music shows. The music enthusiast pays for audio subscription services like Sirius XM, PandoraOne, Spotify Premium and Apple Music (41 percent).
Spending upwards of $2,000-$5,000 a year on dining out (21 percent), many podcast listeners use on-demand delivery services like Instacart, Seamless and Uber at least several times per year (44 percent). Moreover, 22 percent subscribe to mail order food services from companies like Blue Apron.
The stable homeowner
More than half of frequent listeners own their home – and listen to podcasts in said home (80 percent). The stable homeowner has purchased home improvement products at least several times per year (72 percent) and is currently planning and saving for retirement (73 percent).
This person probably has a 401K (81 percent) and plans to to purchase or lease a vehicle in the next four years (55 percent).
A further forty-one percent pay for audio subscriptions for services such as Sirius XM, PandoraOne, Spotify Premium and Apple Music. And 22 percent currently have mail order subscriptions from companies like Birchbox, Stichfix and Barkbox.
Given that many podcasts are delivered in a serial format, it makes sense that ‘subscribers’ would find it easy to get on board with this method of delivery – or that habitual podcast listeners would seek this format out in other areas of their lives.
How brands can maximize the impact of podcast advertising
Brands that offer consumers fun and personal experiences – specifically geared towards travel, music, food and events (like concerts, sports) – are most likely to have success in podcast advertising based on the six groups of podcast listeners we’ve identified. Brands that provide subscription services have a high chance of successful conversion, as well.
However, brands outside of these listener profiles can still find a home in podcast advertising. For many brands, it’s simply a matter of finding the correct show, and host, and to promote the product.
At one point, even after the success of Serial, one might have assumed that true crime podcasts like Up and Vanished and Undisclosed were presenting somewhat niche subject matter.
As it turns out, those shows and other true crime podcasts have large, engaged audiences who are receptive to a variety of brands as varied as ProFlowers, LeTote and Harry’s Shave Club.
But even in the case of shows where the topic is more specific and the audiences are smaller, brands like Stamps.com, Casper and the Great Courses are still appealing to the masses.
After all, everyone will eventually need a mattress or a stamp – and having a specific brand or service recommended to you by a trusted voice makes a huge difference.
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- ^ audioBoom (audioboom.com)
- ^ 67 million people (www.edisonresearch.com)
- ^ podcast advertising (www.clickz.com)
- ^ 64 percent of podcast listeners (www.slideshare.net)
- ^ studied trends in podcast advertising (fivethirtyeight.com)
- ^ influencers (www.clickz.com)
- ^ dig deeper (www.slideshare.net)
- ^ subscription services (www.clickz.com)
- ^ … read more (www.clickz.com)