Last week we put out a call to publishers, brands, and agencies on the Podsights platform to respond to a survey about the current effects on podcast advertising of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to share knowledge from the three main groups to understand how individual experiences are compared to the whole.
In this post we will share a mix of public research data, aggregate data such as downloads and opt-in survey data to understand how the market is currently functioning. We have cherry-picked the interesting parts and made the raw data available here. We did not include the open-ended responses in the raw export because some of you don’t understand the meaning of anonymous.
110 individuals responded to the survey, and they break down like so:
The big fear here was with fewer people commuting, we would see a massive decrease in people listening to podcasts. This concern has mostly turned out to be false. Podcasting has not seen the gains that TV or internet usage has seen, but it’s holding about steady in aggregate. The following graph is downloads by day for a group of 300+ podcasts on the Podsights platform. Trailing is the week prior.
Publishers were more optimistic. Almost half reported an increase, a third a decrease, and ~18% said there was no change.
There are winners and losers by category:
News podcasts saw the biggest gain for apparent reasons followed by Health and Fitness and Education. Sports was the clear loser, hard to talk about events that aren’t happening.
We are seeing a shift in download time. The following compares hourly downloads in EST for February 19th and March 19th. You can see a definite bump in the mornings in February, which shifts and is much more gradual in March and peaks later in the day. User behavior is changing, but people are still finding time to listen.
We can expect more COVID-19 focused content. We asked respondents, “How are you, if at all, evolving your content due to current events.” Almost half reported they are working on COVID-19 or adjacent podcasts.
I’m going to lead and end this section with the same idea. It’s a good time to invest in podcast advertising.
Podcasting has traditionally relied on direct response brands for advertising. As the market grew, DR could no longer support every publisher, so sales teams focused on the Fortune 500 brand advertisers.
As a publisher, more involvement with big brand advertisers resulted in the hardest hit in terms of podcast media pullback. We asked publishers where they saw pullback:
It’s too early in to see this decline in the research data, for the most part, save some pretty clear examples. DraftKings’ last ad was for march madness on the 9th, the 12th they canceled the tournament.