Audio-only podcasts still beat video for popularity

New trends reports shows more than half of US listeners prefer no visuals

Despite the rising popularity of video, audio-only podcasts are still considered more popular amongst 58% of podcast listeners in the US, according to a new report. 

Voices, a voiceover job marketplace, released its Power of Podcasts report this week, highlighting podcast trends and listener habits. The report included data from a survey conducted by Momentive (formerly known as SurveyMonkey) which sampled 1,183 US podcast listeners aged 18 and above from 12 to 14 July 2023. 

The use of video in podcasts was one of the top trends highlighted at The Podcast Show 2023, with many hit podcasts taking a multichannel approach including Spotify’s Call Her Daddy with Alex Cooper and the MrBallen Podcast: Strange, Dark & Mysterious Stories. The report, however, advises creators to focus on the audio content and quality first before thinking of incorporating video.

“I just don't think people think about the listener and listeners’ experience enough and the way people listen to podcasts,” Luke Moore, COO of independent podcast company Stak, told PodPod in a previous episode of the podcast. “Audio works and has always worked because it's quite a passive medium.” 

Incorporating video into a podcast does not necessarily mean posting full-length episodes on YouTube or other video platforms, however; it can also be used to create promotional short-form video content across channels like Instagram and TikTok. The survey highlights that this, by contrast, is an area that creators may wish to invest in, as 62% of listeners follow their favourite shows or hosts on social media. For podcasters that also want to reach new listeners, 31% of respondents said they also use social media to discover new podcasts. 

On a wider level, the report also shows how mainstream podcasting as a medium has become in the US, with 73% of survey respondents having listened to a podcast in the past year. As podcasting continues to grow, more advertisers are investing in the medium to build both brand awareness and reach a highly engaged audience. 

According to the survey, nearly half of the respondents (48%) said that they have purchased a product advertised in a podcast in the past year and over 70% were able to recall at least one podcast-advertised product, service, or organisation off the top of their head.

As more brands invest in the podcasting space, programmatic advertising has become an increasingly popular option for advertisers due to its ability to reach a targeted audience in a more efficient way. According to the report, the majority of listeners don’t have a preference on if a podcast ad is host-read or not, but of those that do have a preference, 62% prefer host-read ads. 

To address the time and effort it takes to set up host-read ads, independent podcast company Acast recently launched a new feature in August on its self-serve advertising platform called AdCollab, which aims to simplify the host-read sponsorship buying process for podcasters and advertisers by allowing them to work together in real-time.

“We’ve developed a product to streamline the collaboration between podcasters and advertisers, while ensuring we maintain authentic and engaging ad experiences for listeners,” said Acast product manager Richard Jenkins. “It’s increasing efficiency, creativity, and ultimately revenue potential for content creators and brands alike.”