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You Are What You Listen To: Six Key Podcasting Trends in 2023 According to US Listeners – And What it Means for the Year Ahead

From targeting and creative development to measurement, we offer the most advanced solutions to make your podcast campaign a success.

Tommy Walters, Director of Research and Insights at Acast
December 18, 2023

This past year was a significant one for podcasting. As an industry, we turned 20 years old and with that came more incredible storytelling around the world, growing listenership, and increased spend from advertisers of all kinds.

At Acast, we recently conducted a survey of US podcast listeners to discover the most significant trends for audiences from this year. Here’s a look at what we uncovered – and what it means for 2024.

Podcast Listening is a Must-Have in Daily Life

In 2023, podcasts have become increasingly ingrained in listeners’ lives, making them an essential part of routines. According to the survey, the percentage of weekly listeners who would be unwilling to stop listening to podcasts for a year in exchange for a $500 payment rose a stunning near 30% from 2022. 

Looking to the year ahead, we expect this love for the medium to continue to increase and for more listeners to explore more podcasts across more genres as audio storytelling plays an even greater role in their day to day lives.

Podcasts are the Best Co-Pilots

As listeners expressed an unwillingness to part with podcasts, it’s unsurprising to see that their favorite shows are also a part of their daily routines. Specifically, our research found that whether it's during the morning commute, a road trip, or even just running errands around town, listeners are making the most of their time behind the wheel by tuning in to their favorite podcasts. 

In fact, 81% of podcast listeners in 2023 said they tune in while in the car – up slightly from 80% last year. This demonstrates the appeal and importance of podcasting to daily routines. It’s also important to note that as life in the US continues to readjust to pre-pandemic lifestyles with more people returning to offices and traveling, they are choosing to take podcasts with them.

Next year, we expect even more listeners to take their favorite podcasts on the road with them. For advertisers, this is an important behavior to be aware of in understanding how you’ll be reaching many listeners.

Social Lives are Sparked by Podcast Conversations

This year, we saw podcasts become not only a source of entertainment and information, but also a catalyst for social interactions. An impressive 86% of listeners this year said they discuss podcasts they listen to with friends or family. This highlights the impact of the medium on interpersonal relationships and speaks to the ability of podcasts to foster communities of listeners.

In 2022, 85% of listeners said that they discuss podcasts they listen to with friends or family and at Acast we predict that will continue to grow in the new year. For podcasters, it’s important to recognize the power of community within their listener base. When listeners share podcasts with friends and family it not only increases listens, but also can improve sales to events like live recordings or influencer trips and increase merchandise sales.

Listeners Prefer Shorter Podcast Episodes 

With binge watching continuing to dominate on streaming platforms, it’s easy to understand how this translates to podcasting listening behaviors. And while many listeners still enjoy tuning in for those extended podcast episodes, the percentage of listeners who prefer podcasts over an hour fell from 60% last year to 58% this year.

Going into 2024, for podcasters this means that understanding your audience through regular polling, data, and testing is key to creating content that fits their unique preferences. 

For Audiophiles, Podcasts are the Most Mentally Engaging

Across all audio mediums in 2023, podcasts continue to be the most mentally engaging. For US listeners who tune in to both podcasts and audiobooks, 66% said it was easier to focus on a podcast than an audiobook – an increase from 60% in 2022.  

For advertisers next year who are eager to engage with audiences through audio, they can be confident that podcasting delivers an unmatched level of consumer engagement and mental focus.

There is Still Room for (Relevant) Advertising

Podcast advertising continued to increase this year, with 69% of weekly listeners in 2023 saying the amount of podcast ads they heard is increasing – compared to 65% of weekly listeners last year.

This is significant for advertisers planning to engage with the medium in the new year because it means that they must connect with the right listeners for their brand message at the right moment in their listening experience. At Acast, we have a variety of audience-based and contextually relevant targeting tools, like first-party data targeting, Conversational Targeting, predictive audiences, and more to ensure that advertisers reach the right audiences with their unique message.

To learn more about how you can grow your brand through podcast advertising in 2024, please reach out to sales@acast.com.

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