The report, which surveyed 1,008 U.S. adults, reflects podcast listeners’ self-reported audio-streaming habits, in addition to Comscore data encompassing 193 million unique visitors to U.S. mobile apps per month from January 2018 through May 2019.
According to the study, podcast mobile app usage has increased 60% since January 2018, with a quarter of current podcast listeners plugging in for the first time in the past six months. The Adobe Analytics team expects this growth trend to continue, as 45% of listeners said they plan to listen to more podcasts in the future.
Podcast program discovery is happening primarily through online blogs and articles (41%), according to the report.
Perception about the quality of podcasts is up as well, with nearly three-quarters of listeners saying the programs have been getting better.
“We believe that in the early days of podcasts there was a lot of experimentation going on, and companies weren’t investing much in ensuring quality,” said Vivek Pandya, managing analyst at Adobe. “As the podcast space matures and more companies join the bandwagon, production quality has become more of a priority.”
While digging into who is listening to podcasts, the Adobe Analytics team found Millennials are the largest listener base, while podcasts are becoming more popular with Generation Z, too. Currently, a third of Millennials said they listen to five or more podcasts in a week. 67% of Gen Z surveyed said they plan to listen to more podcasts in the next year.
Overall, more than half (52%) of listeners said they listen to podcasts on the way to work or while working; 42% listen while in the car.
“Listeners like podcasts because they are a good secondary experience, especially when commuting or driving. They help pass the time quickly,” Pandya said. “Unlike radio, which is more of a live stream, podcasts are on-demand and let users bring audio programming with them wherever they go. And they can listen at whatever time works best for them.”
Comedy, education, and true crime topped the preferred genre list when it comes to the type of podcast programming that is resonating most with listeners.
However, regardless of the subject matter, the majority of listeners said they prefer podcasts be no longer than one hour.
The study also found podcasts to be an effective platform for advertising. In fact, 60% of consumers surveyed reported that they’ve looked up a product or service after hearing an ad, and 25% of them have purchased a product they discovered through a podcast ad. Also worth noting is that 58% of listeners admit to skipping through a podcast ad.
Of the 72% of podcast listeners who’ve heard an ad while listening to a podcast, one-third said they find the ads to be more engaging than ads on other formats. Additionally, 40% find the ads to be less intrusive than other types of ads.
“Advertising on podcasts is an effective way to reach a relevant customer base,” Pandya told CMO.com.
In addition to looking into podcast listening trends, the Adobe Analytics team also dug into audiobook listenership. The findings point to some crossover: Podcast listeners said they stream more audiobooks than non-podcast listeners, but they prefer audiobooks over podcasts while participating in longer activities, like on airplanes, road trips, or vacation.
It is important to note, however, that audiobooks aren’t replacing physical books, with 74% of audiobook streamers saying they also read physical books.
“Thankfully, people are still reading physical books, but they’ll go the audiobook route in situations where reading isn’t an option,” Pandya said.