Podcasting Audience Up 18% Since Last Year

Mar 22nd, 2007 | By | Category: Audio Podcasting, iPods & Portable Media Players, Podcasting Research, Podcasting Statistics, Video Podcasts

The audience for podcasts has grown 18% in the last year, according to an upcoming report from Edison Media Research. Awareness of podcasting has grown even more, jumping from 22% in 2006 to 37% in 2007.

At the Corporate Podcasting Summit, held March 19-20 in London, Edison Media Research VP Tom Webster gave a preview of their latest research on podcasting. Webster’s statistics suggest that podcasting, like other Internet media, is growing rapidly, drawing attention away from other media. In addition, podcasts are getting a very attractive group for advertisers – well-educated people with money that like to buy things online.

Here are some of the highlights of Webster’s presentation:

  • The audience for podcasts is up by 18% from a year ago. In 2006, 11% of those surveyed listened to audio podcasts; in 2007, the number was 13%, about 18% growth. This figure looks like it may be the most controversial info in the report. At Marketwatch, for example, Frank Barnako is calling this anemic growth. While faster growth would be great for podcasters, a lot of industries would kill for 18% growth.
  • Podcast awareness has exploded in the last year, growing from 22% to 37%.
  • Video podcast use is up by 10%, going from 10% to 11%. The relatively small growth indicated by this stat doesn’t jive with obvious trends in Internet video. Internet video is exploding, and by many accounts, it has leapfrogged audio podcasting. It looks like their survey isn’t capturing much growth in interest in video blogs and video podcasts, maybe because of fuzziness about the definition of what a podcast is or isn’t. Is Ask a Ninja a video podcast? If you use Edison’s criteria, probably not.

One of the things that jumps out of Edison’s research is that awareness of podcasts is up by about 70% over last year, but use is only up 18%. What’s unclear is if this gap is a normal stage in the adoption of technologies, if the figures reflect limitations of the research or if podcasting is a stagnating or “broken” technology.
What is a podcast?

The term “podcasting” has had a great deal of mainstream media exposure. Nevertheless, like “blogging” before it, many people that have heard of “podcasting” don’t know what it means.

This issues is complicated by the difficulty of explaining podcasting in layman’s terms. According to Edison:

  • Podcasting is the concept of downloading various types of longer-form online audio programs, in the form of digital files you can listen to at any time you choose.
  • Podcasting does NOT refer to the downloading of individual MP3s or songs.
  • Podcasting does refer to the download of program-oriented online audio (such as a talk show or a hosted music program), usually as an automatic download that can be listened to at the user‚Äôs convenience.

While Edison has done an decent job of defining podcasting in terms that make sense to the general public, their definition is technically inaccurate and excludes whole categories of podcasts that don’t happen to conform to the radio show precedent.

We’ve talked a lot about music podcasts this month, and many of them are not traditional shows. Many are channels of free music mp3s, something excluded by Edison’s definition.

Edison’s concept of podcasting also emphasizes that podcasts are downloaded; many podcasters find that more than half of their audience streams their content, rather than subscribing and downloading it.

Edison’s research on podcasting needs to be interpreted with their concept of podcasting in mind.

The podcast audience

The survey found the podcast audience to be a well-balanced, attractive demographic for advertisers. Podcast listeners are:

  • 49% female, 51% male.
  • All ages. The survey found more listeners 55+ than in the 18-24 age group.
  • Well-educated. Twice as many podcast users have advanced degrees as others.
  • Well-to-do. Podcast users are twice as likely to have incomes over 100K and nearly twice as likely to have incomes between 75K and 100K.
  • Wired – spending more than 50% more time online.
  • More likely than others to own an HDTV and use a TiVo or other digital video recorder.
  • More than twice as likely to own an iPod or other portable media player.
  • More than twice as likely to own video gaming systems.
  • Twice as likely as others to use NetFlix or other DVD rental service.
  • 36% more likely than others to have made online purchases.
  • Nearly 4 times as likely to have purchased songs or other digital audio online.

The survey also included some interesting information for advertisers:

  • Podcast users are twice as likely to have clicked on a banner ad.
  • However, podcast users are also much more likley to actively block spam, pop-up ads, spyware and other unwanted advertising.

Edison’s conclusions

Edison’s Webster draws three conclusions from the research:

  • Podcasters need to start promoting benefits of podcasting, instead of capabilities or features of podcasting.
  • Podcasters should partner with traditional media broadcasters to make more compelling content and to sell it.
  • Podcasters need to create unique content formatted specifically for podcasts.

Webster sees Edison’s numbers as a challenge to podcasters:

Consumer-controlled content is clearly the future for both audio and video, and podcasting, by whatever name you choose to call it, is the precursor to that vision of the future. But realizing that vision takes vision–and persistence. If you think podcasting isn’t “broken,” think on these graphs again. 15 million more Americans learned about podcasting this year, and the vast majority responded…”meh.” You can grouse about the numbers, you can grumble about mainstream America’s apparent inability to grasp how great podcasting is, and you can blog about “the end of podcasting.” Somewhere, though, somebody will see this data for what it is–a challenge to work harder, to claim the greater prize. Some of you reading this will do the work to make podcasting different, and better, than it is today–and those people have the opportunity to reap great rewards.

Technology adoption precedents

While Webster suggests that podcasting is “broken”, his viewpoint seems to ignore the adoption precedents of Internet technologies like blogs, and recognized models of consumer technology adoption.

For example, in the 60’s, Everett Rogers demonstrated that technology adoption follows a fairly consistent pattern. Technology flows from innovators to early adopters, to the early mainstream audience, to the mainstream audience and finally to laggards.

Podcasting has been adopted by innovators and early adopters, but is just beginning to be used by the early mainstream audience.

Gartner hype cycleGartner, a technology analysis firm, uses another analysis tool to help understand technology adoption, their Hype Cycle. Their analysis suggests that technologies consistently go through a Hype Cycle:

  • Technologies emerge and innovators begin to use them.
  • As early adopters start using new technologies, the technologies’ potential tends to get overhyped (ie, podcasting will kill radio).
  • As people figure out the technology was overhyped, people get disillusioned with it. This appears to be where podcasting is now, with people like Webster saying podcasting is “broken”, and others arguing that podcasting is irrelevant.
  • Finally, after the overhyped expectations and the over-skeptical responses, technologies begin to be widely understood. This happens when people start seeing numerous examples of successful implementations of the technology.

In Gartner’s hype cycle, podcasting appears to be somewhere between their Peak of Inflated Expectations and their Trough of Disillusionment.

Edison’s latest research is an important new set of data on the evolution of podcasting. In order to make the most sense of their research, though, it needs to be looked at within the context of technology adoption trends, and with the understanding that it is based upon a definition of podcasting which is an unfortunately necessary kludge.

Edison’s site has Webster’s take on the new research.

No Responses to “Podcasting Audience Up 18% Since Last Year”

  1. Tom Webster says:

    Don’t forget that our definition (which we got from podcasters, and was not derived internally) also includes the work “podcast” several times. Necessary kludge, perhaps, but consistent from last year and meant to be inclusive, not exclusive.

  2. Wow! this research by Edison really makes for some great insight into the wide world of podcasting. I believe podcasting will continue to grow-for many, it is just plain fun to do-it’s addicting. As more and more people catch on, the demand will grow, and there will be even more diverse types of podcasts than there are currently-and it seems pretty diverse already! But think about it, almost any topic could be turned into a podcast…There could be a podcast for virtually every niche topic out there. It is very interesting that the Edison research found that listening to podcasts is is well-balanced between men and women (51% male, 49% female). In addition, we are starting to get a clearer picture here of the podcast listener demographics. This is very use information, indeed.

  3. […] Although still highly “niche,” the popularity of podcasting has grown by 18% over year according to Edison Media Research (via Podcasting News). In their survey in 2007, 13% had listened to a podcast, up from 11% in 2006. (The 18% is lift: (13-11)/11=0.181818.) Awareness of podcasts has grown even more, from 22% having heard of the medium in 2006 to 37% in 2007. (68% lift.) […]

  4. […] UPDATE: Podcasting News points offers the thought that “podcasting appears to be somewhere between their Peak of Inflated Expectations and their Trough of Disillusionment.”—quoting Gartner’s Hype Cycle. Earlier this week I reported on statistics from the upcoming Arbitron/Edison Internet and Multimedia 2007 report. Despite a healthy upswing in people who had heard of podcasting (37% up from 22% in 2006), there was only small incremental increase in the number of people who have ever listened to a podcast (13% up from 11% last year). I’d like to offer further insight and information and then get some feedback on this matter. […]

  5. […] Podcasting News ¬ª Podcasting Audience Up 18% Since Last Year […]

  6. […] Podcasting Audience Up 18% Since Last Year “The audience for podcasts has grown 18% in the last year, according to an upcoming report from Edison Media Research. Awareness of podcasting has grown even more, jumping from 22% in 2006 to 37% in 2007.” (tags: podcast numbers) […]

  7. info says:

    Tom

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Your latest podcasting research is interesting, as always.

    It’s really important to consider the research with some context, though. Your podcast definition is key to this, as is understanding the normal adoption patterns for new technologies.

    I called your podcast definition a necessary kludge, because it’s technically inaccurate, but a more accurate definition would probably be useless for doing the type of research you do.

    Because it’s inaccurate, though, we have to consider what the implications of this are your research.

    When comScore says that 70% of the US audience is using Internet video in a given month, and the Edison research pegs the video podcasting audience at 11%, it raises questions about how effectively Edison’s numbers are capturing trends in video podcasting.

    If you examine YouTube’s amazing growth in the last year, and consider that much of their content is video blogs and video podcasts like Ask A Ninja, one has to question whether or not your definition of podcasting is capturing this, and whether or not it should be.

  8. […] Seth’s Blog: Spammers, and proud of it Marketing gone wrong and the backlash that naturally follows: “Over the last few weeks, I’ve received several meails, all the same, all from real people at Reed. They baldly (and boldly) ask me to swap links with them as part of a scheme to move up the Google rankings.” […]

  9. […] Podcasting News ¬ª Podcasting Audience Up 18% Since Last Year The audience for podcasts has grown 18% in the last year, according to an upcoming report from Edison Media Research. Awareness of podcasting has grown even more, jumping from 22% in 2006 to 37% in 2007. (tags: podcasting research) […]

  10. KAN says:

    THAT’S TOO GREAT TO MAKE ONLINE STARS

  11. […] However, the main thread of the argument discusses podcast directories. So, I’m assuming that the first sentence should read, “Can we officially declare the end of the podcasting directory boom?” This makes a lot more sense, given that podcasting itself is still growing: Podcasting Audience Up 18% Since Last Year. […]

  12. […] Podcasting News ¬ª Podcasting Audience Up 18% Since Last Year (tags: podcasts) […]

  13. […] ¬†http://www.podcastingnews.com/2007/03/22/podcasting-audience-up-18-since-last-year/¬† […]

  14. […] After years of slow albeit steady growth, the number of those enjoying and creating podcasts is taking off. According to a report on podcastingnews.com, the audience for podcasts has grown 18% in the past year and furthermore, awareness of podcasting has grown even more, jumping from 22% in 2006 to 37% in 2007. […]

  15. […] Why would I take up this radical opinion at a time when podcasting is booming? Why, indeed. […]

  16. […] These graphs don’t show us anything about adoption trends for these two technologies; all they they show is that people aren’t searching for terms like “podcasting” and “blogging” as much as they used to. Maybe people know what the two words mean; maybe 2005 was the peak of the hype cycle for these two technologies. […]

  17. […] Listener comment 2– Chip Griffin of Custom Scoop, Pardon the Disruption and the Disruptive Dialogue podcast on Vegas and the New Comm Forum, and his comment on RSS leads us into a new discussion of podcast listenership numbers from Edison Media Research. […]

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