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7 in 10 Gen Z & Millennials Are Listening to Podcasts—Here’s What You Need to Know

Young consumers are fueling the podcast economy. These stats show how they’re listening—and how open they are to brands in this space…


Podcasts are more popular than ever, and young listeners are driving the surge. Adobe Analytics research reported by the Los Angeles Times showed that 25-34-year-olds drove a 60% rise in the number of people listening to podcasts via mobile apps, when compared to January 2018. With the podcast boom well underway, everyone wants a piece of the audio action. Spotify has acquired two podcast startups, Gimlet Media and Anchor, and announced plans to spend $500 million more this year. Recode reports that the platform’s CEO thinks that listening to podcasts will one day make up 20% of all usage on Spotify, as they race to create original content. SiriusXM radio recently penned a deal with Marvel to create original podcasts for the service—their first, and very major, foray into the category. And, of course, brands are jumping into the genre, creating their own podcasts for brand fans that are actually earning followings.

Unsurprisingly, with all of this attention on podcasts, ad spend on the format jumped 86% from 2016 to 2017 for a total of $313.9 million, according to the IAB and PwC—who predict that revenue will rise to $659 million by 2020. The rapid growth shows that marketers are picking out podcasts as an important new channel to reach young consumers. And those marketers can more young consumers through podcasts than ever before: Our most recent entertainment survey found that 71% of Gen Z & Millennials currently listen to podcasts. That’s compared to 57% who reported listening in 2018, and just 35% of 13-32-year-olds who told YPulse they listened to podcasts back in 2014. We’ve seen interest in the entertainment format spike significantly in just the last few years—making it a space brands can no longer ignore. Here are four more stats you should know about their podcast listening—and how open they are to hearing your ads on their favorite shows:

Over a third listen to podcasts weekly or more often.

They’re not just listening to podcasts, Gen Z and Millennials are tuning into podcasts regularly, with over a third (37%) of 13-37-year-olds saying they listen weekly or more. Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to be listening regularly, with 41% of 19-37-year-olds saying they listen weekly or more, compared to 25% of 13-18-year-olds. The most avid podcast listeners are 21-24-year-olds: 51% of this group report listening weekly or more. Brands should also note that males are more likely to report listening to podcasts overall, and more likely to say they listen regularly than females. In other words, podcasts are a growing way to reach some hard-to-target groups.

Two in five young listeners are tuning into comedy podcasts, and three in ten tune into interview podcasts.

What kinds of podcasts are they most interested in? Comedy is the top genre they report listening to, with 41% of 13-37-year-old podcast listeners saying they listen to a comedy podcast. Music is second in popularity, with 33% of young podcast listeners tuning into this genre, and interview podcasts are third in the ranking, drawing in 31% of young listeners. But the genres preferred vary significantly among groups: 44% of male podcast listeners say they listen to a sports podcast, making it their most popular category. Gen Z and Millennials are also increasingly using podcasts to stay up-to-date on world events: 28% of young podcast listeners say they listen to news podcasts.

Almost a quarter are paying to access their podcasts monthly.

Though free-to-access podcasts are available to them, nearly a quarter of Gen Z and Millennials say they pay for podcasts monthly. They report spending an estimated average of $5.40 on podcasts monthly—which adds up to a young listener market of $1.6 billion spent annually on the actual podcast content. Millennials report spending more monthly on podcasts than Gen Z, and males report spending more than females. Of course, that’s not even counting the spending that podcasts are influencing them to do. Every podcast is loaded with ads, reaching a highly engaged listening audience; which brings us to…

Three quarters are fine, or even happy, with brands promoting products on a podcast.

The majority of podcast listeners are open to marketing messages during their shows: YPulse’s 2018 trend research found that 46% of 13-35-year-olds are okay with brands promoting products on a podcast, and 18% actually say they like brands promoting products on podcasts—potentially because they know it’s what keeps their favorite shows afloat. And podcast marketing is proving to be a fruitful space: That Adobe study mentioned earlier also found that that six in ten listeners look up products and services they hear about in podcast ads, and nearly a quarter actually buy something. Meanwhile, a BBC study found that listeners who avoid ads (ahem, like young consumers and young males) are 22% more engaged, emotionally involved, and likely to remember a brand mentioned in a podcast, versus one mentioned in a TV commercial.