Our Bridge Ratings Podcasting clients recently participated in our first Audit of the audio platform which has so much potential.

In recent weeks since the release of our "Podcasting at a Crossroads" study and subsequent blog, our clients and the industry has asked for more detail on the health and prospects for an audio platform which is growing steadily in audience but has yet to provide advertisers a suitable purchase model.

For the purpose of this review, topics covered in our recent symposium about this subject will cover the following topics:

  • Podcasting Growth
  • Listening
  • Listener Acquisition
  • Podcast pricing
  • Podcasting Growth Scenarios

A. Growth Snapshot

Marketers are gaining more confidence in the platform.

In terms of growth of Market Spend, over the last five years podcasting has grown by approximately 25% with 2015 growth signaling an unusual year over year spike (+ 48%). Cost-per-thousand are tracking with increases as well.

Total Digital media spent continues to steamroll with no end in sight through 2020.

The drivers for great growth of podcasting (ease-of-use distribution models, in-car adoption and professionally produced content) are not unrealistic.
— Dave Van Dyke, President Bridge Ratings


B. Listening

Interestingly, while marketing spend has seen growth of 20+% over the last five years, listeners have grown by around 8% and listens have grown by 11%.

The slide below explains this calculation with historical five year podcast listener growth multiplied by average weekly podcast consumption trends which shows the number of podcasts per listener.

C. Listener Acquisition

We have seen growth of the podcast audience through five principle sources:

D. Podcast Pricing

Interviews with agencies and podcast buyers indicate that pricing of podcast advertising is generally higher than other media primarily due to listener retention, engagement and response.  As podcast audiences have grown and the number of weekly listens-per-listener increases cost-per-thousands have also risen over time.

E. Podcast Growth Scenarios

As previously outlined in our "Podcasting at a Crossroads" study, the future of podcasting is reliant on several factors including an improvement in ease-of-access and use by the general public.

Three principle scenarios have surfaced insofar as growth projections are concerned.

A. The current state of distribution/accessibility (downloads) remains the same

B. Transitioning to a podcast streaming model which lowers the barrier for ease-of-use.

C. A hybrid distribution model (A+B)

Under the scenario where the distribution process remains the same as it is today, growth could show slight year-over-year increases or remain relatively flat.

The greatest growth scenario lies in an improved ease-of-use state in which average consumers can more readily search, access and listen to podcasts of interest. The dark blue growth line in the chart below represents the greatest potential in this case.

The hybrid model, in which the streaming of podcasts and download consumption are approximately equal percentage-wise, shows good growth over the next five years.

Additional insight into the methodology used for these growth scenarios follows which adds variables such as increases in the number of listens per listener, creation and promotion of breakout podcast titles such as "Serial" widening the market, ease-of-use which includes larger in-car adoption.

Final Thoughts

The data collected through the Bridge Ratings' Podcasting consumption field studies have produced some revealing insights into the current status of both audience acquisition and advertising potential.

Like much of the audio-on-demand content currently available, the future for interesting and entertaining audio content - especially spoken word - is very bright. Even the most conservative of the growth scenarios represented here will yield continuing revenue and pricing improvements for the foreseeable future.

The drivers (ease-of-use distribution models, in-car adoption and professionally produced content) for great growth are not unrealistic and, in fact, are within reach.

We expect the next audit we conduct later this year, will confirm the expansion of consumption sited in this report.

Check out a list of this week's Top Podcasts here.