‘Co-listening’ makes people more receptive to brands, report says

Advertisers can reach co-listeners through storytelling, device targeting, and time of day

People who listen to podcasts with friends or partners are more willing to engage with brands, according to a new piece of research by Spotify Advertising and global media intelligence company MAGNA, offering greater potential engagement for advertisers. 

The report looked into the impact of ads during co-listening experiences (listening to digital audio with one or more companions) by testing the behaviours of 1,357 digital audio consumers - nearly 50% of whom were defined as co-listeners - towards ads during 30 minutes of listening. 

This practice of ‘co-listening’ was popular amongst respondents, with 74% of co-listenerrs stating that they do it at least once a week. Although the research proved that it was most popular with Gen Z podcast listeners (86%), it was still popular amongst three-quarters of Millenial and Gen X respondents.

“Our research finds that advertisers who reach co-listeners are sharing a moment with an audience that is more likely to be feeling good, having fun and dialed into the content, ads included,” said MAGNA Intelligence Solutions executive vice president Kara Manatt. “Co-listeners represent an untapped segment for advertisers to explore and an opportunity to maximize impact and build closer relationships with key audiences.”

Brands were advised in the research to consider targeting podcast co-listeners in order to benefit from this increased engagement as co-listening respondents stated that they would be 17% more likely to search information about a brand when listening to an ad, and 10% more willing to learn more. This is higher than co-listening to music which the research states has “no significant impact” in both areas. 

Additionally, the respondents stated that they are 22% more likely to be focused or curious when listening to podcasts as opposed to being 6% likely to feel that way with music. Respondents also reported that they are 6% more likely to feel excited co-listening to a podcast than they would with music. 

Other factors that advertisers could consider to reach more co-listeners, according to the report, include incorporating more story-telling ads than product-focused ads to increase engagement, as these caught survey participants’ attention and improved their perception of the brand. 

Additionally, the research proved that co-listening is more likely to be done on shared devices such as gaming consoles and smart TVs, with over 70% of respondents using them over individual devices such as laptops and smartphones, and at times such as lunchtimes, commute periods or night. Advertisers looking to reach co-listeners should target these devices and periods for maximum impact, according to the study.

“From Wrapped and Blend to sharing an Instagram story with a Spotify song soundtracking the photo, it is clear that listening is a social experience,” said Spotify Advertising global director Jon Gibs. “Co-listening is the pinnacle of social listening but what does this mean for advertisers? Our data found that brands that looked beyond product-focused advertisements and leaned into creative storytelling in a co-listening environment saw a more powerful response from listeners.

“It’s actionable insights like these that help us arm advertisers to create more impactful creative that better reaches their target audiences.”