Two Slides Every Marketer Needs To Have And Why Brands Should Put 5% Of Their Digital Budgets Into Podcasts: Audio Streaming And Podcast Audiences From Edison Research’s Infinite Dial 2023

March 27, 2023 By Pierre Bouvard

Click here to view a 9-minute video of the key takeaways. 

Click here to view or download the slides.

A few weeks ago, Edison Research released their annual Infinite Dial study. When Edison Research started the Infinite Dial Study in 1998, the goal was to understand how Americans use emerging forms of audio and new media. In the first study, only a tiny number of consumers had ever tried audio streaming over dial-up connection. 25 years later, the Infinite Dial is the longest-running study of consumer digital media use.  

For marketers, the most compelling aspect of the study highlighted audio streaming and podcast audiences. 

The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group® has summarized the most crucial data on the U.S. audio streaming and podcast audiences into two slides.

The two slides reveal long-term trends in audio streaming and podcast audience metrics. 

After several years of stability, online audio streaming experienced a significant listening surge in 2022 as 70% listen weekly  

Compared to 2021, monthly and weekly online audio audiences have leapt forward. 75% of Americans have listened to audio streaming in the last month. 70% have listened in the last week, up from 2022’s 67%.

Americans continue to be thoroughly habituated to online audio streaming. 93% of the monthly audience also listens weekly, a record high.  

Edison Research’s recently released Q4 2022 “Share of Ear” tracking study reveals from 2016 to 2019, streaming grew slightly to represent 10% of all AM/FM radio listening. Over the last three years, AM/FM radio streaming has surged to represent 20% of 25-54 AM/FM radio time spent. 

42% of Americans now listen to podcasts monthly 

The growth in podcast awareness and listenership over the last six years has been amazing: 

  • Over eight in ten 12+ Americans are familiar with the term podcasting, up from 60% in 2017.  
  • 64% of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, a +60% increase since 2017 (40%). 
  • 42% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, a +75% increase versus 2017 (24%). 
  • The weekly podcast audience (31%) has doubled from 15% in 2017. 
  • Podcast habituation is up. 74% of the monthly podcast audience has also listened in the past week, a +17% increase from 2017. After four years of monthly to weekly conversion in the high 60% range, the current 74% habituation index is the strongest in the history of podcasting. Americans are increasingly getting into the podcast habit.  

“The 5% solution”: It is time for brands to get serious and allocate 5% of digital budgets to podcasting

Arnie Semsky, legendary BBDO media chief, who created “the 5% solution.” He recommended brands devote 5% of media budgets to cable in order to generate meaningful impact. 

Podcasting is America’s fastest growing audio platform. Ad-supported music streaming audiences for Spotify and Pandora peaked in 2016. All of the growth in audio is now coming from podcasting. At the dawn of cable TV, legendary BBDO media chief Arnie Semsky created the “5% solution,” which stipulated that brands devote 5% of media budgets to cable. 5% is enough of allocation to generate meaningful impact. Semsky was prescient. His brands hugely benefited from taking an early, bold, and strong position in a growing new medium, a lesson for the marketers of today. 

Takeaways for marketers:

The results of Edison Research’s 2023 Infinite Dial study contain some compelling insights for marketers and media agencies: 

  • The ideal split for an AM/FM radio buy is 80% for over-the-air AM/FM radio and 20% to the AM/FM radio stream: Edison Research’s recently released Q4 2022 “Share of Ear” tracking study reveals the proportion of total AM/FM radio audience coming from the stream has jumped to represent 20% of all AM/FM radio listening. Surprisingly, AM/FM radio streaming audiences are now much larger than the ad-supported audiences of Pandora and Spotify combined.  
  • No longer is podcasting a niche platform lacking scale: Podcasting deserves a starring role in media plans as opposed to “test and learn” experimental buys. 120 million Americans, 42% of persons 12+, are reached monthly. Among key demographics such as persons 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54, reach is even higher.  

Click here to view a 9-minute video of the key takeaways. 

Click here to view or download the slides.

Pierre Bouvard is Chief Insights Officer of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.

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