Nielsen Brings Vital Consumer Data To Podcast Marketing


Podcast marketing is exploding, transitioning from a niche tactic just a few years ago into a mainstream of marketing.

In fact, it’s estimated that US advertisers will spend more than $1 billion on podcast ads by 2021, according to a new reportOpens a new window  from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PwC.

While podcast ad revenues alone have skyrocketed nearly 500% in two years from $69 million in 2016 to $402 million last year, roughly one-third of US marketers and agency professionals are already advertising in podcastsOpens a new window , according to Advertiser Perceptions and audio media company Westwood One.

And when you look at the most recent trends and data on the segmentOpens a new window , it’s no surprise that marketers are aggressively exploring ways to incorporate podcasts into their overall campaign strategies:

  • Podcasts as a media are becoming ever more popular: More than half of Americans have listened to a podcast, nearly a third of the population listens to podcasts on a monthly basis, and more than one-fifth listen to them every week.
  • It’s a mobile-first media: The majority of podcast consumption occurs on smartphones. Podcasts offer a great medium for marketers looking for effective ways to capture and engage audiences on mobile phones.
  • Podcast listeners are a highly engaged audience: On average, podcast audiences are avid social media users — they’re 13% more likely to be active on various social media channels. Crucially, consumers of podcast are also more likely to follow brands and companies on social media. Meanwhile, 69% of people agreed that podcast ads made them aware of new products or services.
  • Podcast audiences have money: Podcast listeners are 32% more likely to have an annual income above $75,000; 37% more likely to have an annual income above $100,000; and 45% more likely to have an annual income above $250,000.

The key takeaway for me from this data? Podcast consumers share a lot of the traits with a digital marketer’s ideal target. Which is why, as my eagle-eyed Toolbox followers may remember (shoutout to all of you), I recommended in an articleOpens a new window last year that marketers should look for ways to bring podcasts into their marketing operations.

The problem

There’s been one major obstacle keeping many marketers from jumping into podcast marketing: It’s not an exact science.

The promise of potential marketing growth is counter-balanced by the reality that, unlike text- or video-based content, it has traditionally been difficult to measure key audience metrics of podcasts such as user engagement, conversions or the all-important ROI.

The problem is that although the podcast revolution is already generating troves of valuable consumer data for marketers, it’s difficult to pull valuable insights from that data because of the current lack of measurement standards, complicating efforts to target audiences effectively and measure ROI.

So although there’s plenty of information that marketing teams can use to identify specific podcasts to reach specific audiences, we’re often left wondering, what good is the data if we can’t actually use it?Opens a new window

Nielsen offers a solution

Ultimately, podcasting is a marketing tactic still in its infancy. As such, the space has not yet been flooded with marketing technology that automatically provides the high-value consumer insights marketers treasure.

Indeed, the martech offerings for podcasters are limited at best, especially compared to other digital marketing segments, such as, for example, customer data platformsOpens a new window . As George Nguyen writes for Marketing Land, “the audience information available to advertisers is still far behind what other more mature digital mediums offer.”

In large part, that’s because developing tools and technology capable of extrapolating such insights would be difficult due to the nature of consumption of podcasts. (For instance, podcasts aren’t listened to on web browsers, so there’s no trove of actionable consumer data that can be pulled from IP addresses.)

Enter Nielsen.

Although it’s not introducing new marketing technology, the data and measurement firm has launched a serviceOpens a new window that promises to generate the key consumer data insights — for example buyer personas and purchasing preferences — that are increasingly considered the holy grailsOpens a new window  of digital marketing.

This data will be produced by Nielsen’s biannual podcast survey of 30,000 Americans that gauges genre preferences, purchasing plans and similar audience tastes and behaviors. To ensure that their podcasts are included in these surveys, podcast networks must subscribe to the new Nielsen Podcast Listener Buying Power Service which already has a variety of customers including iHeartMedia, Cadence13, Stitcher, Westwood One and Cabana.

Admittedly, this service is not the final answer for podcast consumer data. It can’t provide real-time information and it’s working from a relatively limited sample size, among other roadblocks.

But it’s a start.

With this service, podcast networks have actionable consumer data they can use to bring prospective advertising clients over the line. It is an important first step to convincing advertisers that podcasts can now develop a robust understanding of listener buying habits.