Pay Attention to the Popularity of Podcasts

By George Farris

I walked into the tiny reception area of Jimmy’s office and saw the receptionist, Marge, at her desk. She’s a Russian immigrant in her 80s who thinks retirement is for lazy people. 

We chat for a while. Then I ask what Jimmy’s doing. “He’s listening to iPod,” Marge said.

I was surprised because I wasn’t sure they even made iPods anymore. I wondered why Jimmy would have one.

“He’s listening to an iPod?” I asked.

“Yes, iPod,” she replied firmly. “You go back.”

I walked back to his office and spotted Jimmy with his feet up, earbuds from his iPhone in his ears. He was not listening to something on an iPod  – he was listening to a podcast. 

Jimmy is not the only one listening. Podcast fans have many choices. Nielsen says there are 1.75 million podcasts available. Comedy is the most popular podcasting genre, followed by education and news.

Edison Research says 55% of the U.S. population (155 million people) has listened to a podcast. Thirty-seven percent (104 million) listened to a podcast in the last month. Twenty-four percent (68 million) listen to podcasts weekly.

Nielsen reports 16 million people in the United States are “avid podcast fans.” Listeners are much more active on every social media channel and are more likely to follow companies and brands on social  media.

The Leaders List

My favorite podcast is “Business Wars” by Wondery. I asked some local business leaders to name their favorite podcast. Their answers follow.

Tim Petrey, managing partner of HD Davis CPAs, enjoys “How I Built This” with Guy Raz. Struthers Mayor Catherine Cercone Miller listens to Simon Arias’ “Grind Cast.”

Like me, Chris Jaskiewicz, president of Advantage Video Productions, listens to “Business Wars.”

“The WOW Factor” is the podcast of choice for Sam Covelli, owner and operator of Covelli Enterprises.

Aimee Fifarek, executive director of the Public Library, likes the “The Marketplace” podcast. Jeff Herrmann, CEO of Youngstown Publishing Co., subscribes to “Masters of Business” with Barry Ritholtz.

 Mark Levy, president and CEO of Revenue Development Resources, enjoys the “Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.” And Barb Ewing, CEO of the Youngstown Business Incubator, listens to “In Search of Black History” with Bonnie Greer.

Advertise on Podcasts?

As a platform for your ads, podcasts are uniquely able to reach a wider audience because listeners can tune in anywhere. The demos are attractive. The average podcast listener is in the 18 to 54 age bracket. Forty-five percent have a household income of $75,000 or more.

Advertising on a typical podcast runs about $15 to $30 CPM [cost per thousand]. A top podcast can run as much as $100 CPM. Compare this to Facebook, which has a typical CPM around $10; Instagram is about $5.

Should You Create a Podcast?

About 3% of U.S. marketers make podcasts. It takes a lot of time to do it right. You can’t spend most of the podcast promoting your products. So you have to create content that is of value and interest to listeners.

If your podcast is successful, says you’ll see increased website traffic. Your brand will appear in more places online, giving you greater brand visibility and improved search results.

Only you can decide when and how to get involved by advertising on podcasts or your own podcast. But the growing popularity of podcasts makes them something you should consider eventually putting in your marketing plan. You don’t want your competitors to beat you to podcasting while you’re still listening to your iPod.

George Farris is CEO of Farris Marketing. Email