Podcast: Nielsen, Westwood One Execs on Who's Buying What and Why in Podcasting

By Audio InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Podcast: Nielsen, Westwood One Execs on Who's Buying What and Why in Podcasting

At the just-wrapped Podcast Movement 2018 conference, producers and marketing execs brainstormed ways to advance the emerging medium.  In this latest episode of Insider InSites, MediaVillage Head of Content E.B. Moss (above left) polled two top Nielsen execs, Tony Hereau, Vice President of Audience Insights (above center), and Bruce Supovitz, Senior Vice President/Sales Director, National Audio Services (above right), as well as Kelli Hurley, Westwood One and Westwood One Podcast Network's Senior Vice President of Digital Partnerships. The fast-paced 15 minute conversation focused on the results of Nielsen's new Marketer's Guide to Podcasting, how audio companies and popular hosts are bringing podcasting mainstream, brands' growing interest and how data is helping harness the potential.  This topline transcript has been edited for clarity and length.  Listen to the complete interviews here or through our player below.  And, please subscribe to all MediaVillage Insider InSites episodes on Apple podcasts,Stitcher, Google Play, iHeartRadio and PodSearch.

E.B. MossKelli, how do you see podcasting growing and evolving?

Kelli Hurley (pictured below right):  The growth has just been staggering. [At Westwood One] our audiences continue to grow and, as a result, our revenue.  It's all about really figuring out what content the audiences want and delivering that.  So, you're launching more successful shows and providing more opportunities for revenue.

Moss:  Since Westwood One is involved in broadcast and digital audio, streaming, podcasting, etc., how are advertisers finding the difference between radio and podcasting and the hybrids of sorts that you offer with radio hosts who have become podcasters?

Hurley:  We offer a unique value proposition to our advertisers, as well as talent, podcasters and radio broadcasters.  We've been very successfulproviding multi-platform ad campaigns where it includes sponsorship of a podcast, but really taking the host of the podcast and bringing them into the radio space by having them voice the spots that run adjacent to some of our exclusive content, like our Olympic updates as an example.

We also offer something incredibly valuable to a podcaster, like Ben Shapiro, who has been with us for about two years.  He has been a very successful podcaster but now we syndicate his podcast on the radio.  Jim Rome is an example of a broadcaster who saw the opportunity to get into original content podcasting and expand his audience outside of his affiliation footprint.  We find those ways to bridge the gap between the two worlds.

Moss:  Then you're able to help people find podcasts using your broadcast platform to amplify the opportunity to download and listen to the podcast version on demand, right?

Hurley:  That's correct and really important.  There are still a lot of people that don't know what the word podcast means [so we] educate our listeners on the radio, in markets big and small on how to download it and where to find it.

Moss:  Tony, how does Nielsen extract radio versus podcasting insights?

Tony Hereau:  There are similarities, but there's probably a lot more differences.  With radio, it's often a local type of advertiser that is taking advantage of that local connection.  But with podcasting it's national, and it has the best of the spoken word capabilities that audio offers, but it also has some digital elements and mobile elements to it as well.  At Nielsen, we can leverage a lot of that with tools that we have across all types of media and we're applying it to podcasting.  So, for example, in this insights booklet we've just been leveraging the CPG angle and looking at national advertisers who could benefit from the podcast medium.

Moss:  You've looked at buying habits among avid podcast users and how they do in terms of what products they're buying a little more. They're buying a lot of liquor, baby food and cookies!  What are some other takeaways?

Hereau:  We all know the podcasting audience is a younger audience, and it's going to appeal to beverage makers, alcoholic as well as carbonated. There are even surprises, like nuts, skincare and detergent.  You wouldn't necessarily associate that with a sports fan, but that's what the data is showing us.

Moss:  Kelli, does this information jive with some of the advertising that Westwood One has sold in podcasting?

Hurley:  Yes, absolutely.  The research really speaks to the strength of the current advertisers in the space, and ones are starting to dip their toe in and inquire, which is great.

Bruce Supovitz:  This study is the third one we've done and it's taken from Home Scan.  Home Scan is 100,000 homes where people actually scan in the barcodes.  Then we ask them if they're fans of podcasting and what genres of podcasting are they fans of and we can see which brands do best in which categories.  Furthermore, we've been able to figure out who are the most avid fans, the most engaged fans and what their buying power [is].  We're seeing the buying power of podcast fans, and even moreso of avid podcast fans, really over-indexes compared to the average consumer for a large number of categories.

Moss:  Tony, can you talk about the audience growth and adoption of podcast listening?

Hereau:  The avid fans are what is driving podcasting.  When you talk to somebody who's a fan of podcasting, they're not just a light fan, they're an avid fan.  They want to tell you about their favorite shows and so on.  We're seeing a growth in that core audience even, not just light listeners coming into podcasting for the first time.  In 2016, we tracked 13 million households across America that were avid fans of podcasting.  A year later that number grew to 16 million, a 26% jump.

Moss:  Why do you think certain genres are doing better?  Is that a reflection of the demographics of people who listen to podcasts now?

Hereau:  As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats, so the whole medium is expanding.  All the formats are growing.  It's becoming more mainstream. Podcasting was [embraced by] the early adopters and the more tech-centric audience, but it's starting to become more of a mass medium.

Supovitz:  The beauty of podcasts is there's something for everybody.  We felt that with the brands really wanting to move with the podcasting, these would be very key findings.  There's a lot of direct response already in the medium.  We're feeling more demand to show results or directional results on brand dollars.  For instance, we're getting a lot of requests for brand lift studies.  With direct response, you can tell whether something does well because there's an action, there's a code, you have to click something, you have to do something.  With brands, they want to know whether their message is resonating.  [It's] awareness, resonating and people taking an action.

Moss:  What kind of impact are smart speakers having on the uptake of podcasting?

Hereau:  About one out of every five households has a smart speaker in it now, so that's definitely a tailwind for the podcast medium.  The smartphone has driven the growth of podcasting more than the smart speaker has over the last five years.

Moss:  One last question: What's the change in the air with podcasting?

Hereau: The medium is growing more diverse, so it's not just the diversity of content, it's the diversity of players, whether it's content, whether it's the audience, or whether it's the advertising.  It's becoming multi-dimensional.

Supovitz:  Just the volume of shows that are out there for people to listen to and how do you make it easier for someone to find them?  How do you make it easier for a buyer to buy them?  At my session, there is a big buyer from Spark Foundry, along with Cadence 13 and Midroll, and we're talking about how brands are moving in.  How do you make it easy to make the buy?  Is that programmatic?  Is it host read?  How do you keep up with that tonnage of shows?  It's a very exciting medium and it's the hot thing.

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