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Want to Reach Gen Z & Millennial Podcast Listeners? Here’s What You Should Know

The majority of Gen Z & Millennials say they listen to podcasts—here’s what brands need to know about reaching them there…


According to YPulse’s most recent entertainment survey, 62% of young consumers 13-39-years-old listen to podcasts, with 26% reporting that they listen to podcasts every week. We also found that Gen Z is now just as likely to be listening to podcasts as Millennials. In short: podcasts are a viable, if not vital, way to reach next generation shoppers.

And of course many brands are racing to reach them there. Ad revenue for U.S. podcasts is projected to reach over $1 billion in 2021. According to eMarketer, the U.S. podcast industry was expected to surpass 20% of digital radio ad spending last year, while next year ad revenue is projected to see a 45% jump, bringing it to $1.13 billion in 2021. In fact, ad revenue for podcasts continued to grow in 2020 even after stalled commutes impacted listening. Spotify just launched an audio advertising marketplace to help advertisers reach more podcast listeners. But while more tools are being created to more easily get ads into podcasts, not all brands are familiar with podcast marketing—and most don’t know what young listeners want when it comes to their podcast ads. With the podcast industry continuing to heat up. We turned to our on-demand survey tool PULSE to ask Gen Z and Millennial all about their preferences.

First of all, while we know that the majority of young people are listening to podcasts, are they listening to the ads during their shows? We asked 16-34-year-olds:


Young podcast listeners are split on their ad-listening habits. Among those who don’t pay for an ad-free podcast experience (which one in ten do) 44%  listen to podcast ads, and 44% skip over them. But that is still a significant segment of young consumers who are actively listening to the ads in their chosen podcasts. Brands considering podcast marketing shouldn’t expect the full audience to be exposed to ads, but can rely on reaching a significant number of listeners. In fact, 50% of young people who listen to podcasts told us that they would rather listen to a podcast ad than watch a TV commercial

We followed up with some questions specifically for those young consumers who are listening to ads, starting with finding out how many have actually been influenced by a podcast ad they have heard:

Over a third of young consumers who listen to podcast ads say that they have purchased or tried something that they heard about in a podcast ad. In comments, respondents told us that they had purchased everything from yoga pants to mattresses to grocery subscriptions. Nearly a quarter of young consumers who listen to podcast ads actually agreed that ads in podcasts are helpful/valuable–not too bad considering we’re talking about some regularly ad-averse consumers.

So what kind of podcast ads are most effective?

By far, young listeners prefer podcast ads that are improvised by the host. The personalized nature of podcast ads is likely what makes them so effective. Listeners have built a trust with the host(s) that then extends to the ads they’re narrating – the audio version on influencers sponsorships. Brands thinking about podcast marketing need to put their trust in those hosts as well, and let them have some freedom to be themselves during spots in order to authentically appeal to the young audience on the other side of the headphones.