Peak Podcasting in the USA in 2024?

By Rob Greenlee, Spoken Life Media and

The podcasting industry in the USA has experienced steady and consistent growth over the past 20 years, transforming from a niche hobby to a mainstream medium. By 2024, the podcasting landscape has reached a critical juncture, characterized by high awareness and saturation. This maturation phase brings both opportunities and challenges as the industry navigates a plateau in audience growth and shifts in platform dominance.

High Awareness and Listener Saturation
Recent data from Edison Research and Triton Digital reveals that the awareness of podcasting among Americans is nearly universal, with 80% of the population aware of podcasts and 67% having listened to a podcast at least once. This significant penetration underscores the widespread acceptance and integration of podcasts into everyday life. However, this saturation suggests that the any more rapid growth phase of podcasting may be behind us, and the industry is now entering a period of maturation or stabilization.

Further supporting this, a survey conducted by Edison Research indicates that the number of new podcast listeners growing only by 5% from 2022 to 2023 and only up 3% from 2023 to 2024. This plateau in audience growth necessitates a strategic pivot for podcasters and advertisers who must now focus on retaining and deepening engagement with existing audiences rather than relying on the influx of new listeners.

YouTube: The Dominant Podcast Consumption Platform?
One of the most significant perceptional trends shaping the podcasting market in 2024 is the rise of YouTube as the leading platform for podcast consumption in the research data. Known for video content, YouTube’s user-friendly interface and vast audience base have made it an attractive platform for audiences to think they are watching podcasts. According to research from Media Research Group, YouTube now accounts for 30% of all podcast consumption in the USA, rivaling traditional audio-only platforms.

This shift towards YouTube underscores the evolving nature of podcast consumption. Listeners increasingly favor platforms that offer a seamless and integrated experience, combining audio, video, and social engagement. For podcasters, leveraging YouTube’s algorithms and expansive reach can drive potentially higher visibility and audience engagement with a YouTube specific strategy. However, it also demands a reevaluation of content strategies to incorporate visual elements and optimize for video consuming audiences.

Spotify’s Dominance Beyond the USA
While YouTube is a key leader in the podcast consumption race in the USA, Spotify maintains a stronghold in international markets. Spotify’s aggressive expansion and strategic acquisitions have positioned it as a global podcasting powerhouse. The platform’s user-friendly interface, personalized recommendations, and exclusive content have attracted a substantial listener base outside the USA.

Research by Global Web Index shows that Spotify commands a 40% share of podcast listeners in Europe and a 35% share in Latin America. Spotify’s dominance is particularly pronounced in these regions, where the platform continues to invest heavily in localized content and partnerships. This international focus provides Spotify with a diversified audience base and revenue streams, mitigating the impact of market saturation in the USA. For podcasters with global aspirations, Spotify remains a crucial platform for reaching diverse and engaged audiences.

Decline in Podcast Advertising and Investment
Despite the high levels of awareness and engagement, the USA podcasting market faces challenges in terms of advertising and investment. According to a report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), podcast advertising revenue grew by only 5% in 2023 for a total of $1.9 billion, a stark contrast to the double-digit growth rates seen in previous years. We have yet to see if 2024 reaches the IAB projected 12% growth to $2.6 Billion in advertising revenue. Advertisers are becoming more cautious, scrutinizing the return on investment and reallocating budgets to other digital channels that offer more measurable and immediate results.

This shift in advertising dynamics is compounded by broader economic factors. The uncertainty in the global economy and tightening marketing budgets have led to a more conservative content safety and suitability approach to podcast advertising. Additionally, the proliferation of podcasts has led to audience fragmentation, making it more challenging for advertisers to achieve the same impact as they did during the medium’s early boom years.

Investors, too, are reevaluating their approach to the podcasting market. While there is still interest in innovative content and platform developments, the fervor for pouring large sums into podcast startups has tempered. According to PitchBook Data, investment in podcast-related ventures declined by 15% in 2023 compared to the previous year. Investors are now seeking more sustainable and proven business models, focusing on profitability and long-term viability over rapid growth and market share.

The podcasting market in the USA has undeniably matured
Podcasting has reaching a peak in terms of awareness and listener penetration. The dominance of YouTube as a podcast consumption platform and Spotify’s strong international presence illustrate the shifting dynamics within the industry. However, the current decline in podcast advertising and investment signals a need for strategic adaptation.

As the podcasting landscape continues to evolve, stakeholders must focus on creating high-quality, engaging content while exploring new monetization strategies. The era of rapid growth may be over, but the potential for sustained success in a mature market remains promising.

Is Adding Video the Future of a Successful Podcasting Strategy

By Rob Greenlee, Founder of Spoken Life Media and 2017 Podcast Hall of Fame Inductee

In this article, I will do a deep and detailed exploration of the evolving landscape of on-demand and live video in the podcasting market. I also explore various facets of this re-merging audio and video plus LIVE media in a podcast medium most recently seen as an audio-only medium.

Engagement and Personal Connection: Video podcasts foster a more intimate and engaging viewer experience. By incorporating visual elements, audiences can see the hosts’ and guests’ emotions, gestures, and nuances, creating a deeper connection and understanding. This visual layer enriches the storytelling, making the content more relatable and memorable.

Expanding Audience Reach: The dual optional nature of video and audio podcasts caters to audiences that are flexible in their media consumption as they prefer to have an option to consume the video version is different consumption methods like on a big screen TV for video and while at the gym or bus consume the audio version. Some people prefer the convenience of audio podcasts during commutes or while multitasking. In contrast, others significantly engage more with visual content when relaxed or needing a more immersive video experience. This flexibility in consumption ensures that content creators can reach a wider audience, accommodating various lifestyles and preferences.

Content Versatility and Repurposing: One of video podcasts’ most significant benefits is their adaptability. A single episode can be transformed into multiple content forms, such as full-length records plus Live and short videos for platforms like YouTube, Twitter X, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, audio-only versions for most of the podcast consumption app platforms, and some of those same apps make a full video version available if they support video files linked from an RSS feed, like an MP3 file on the audio version. This distribution versatility maximizes getting your content in front of the most potential audience if you make evergreen content appealing to an audience beyond a short period of time, offering creators more opportunities to connect with different audience segments.

Enhanced Monetization Potential: The incorporation of video significantly broadens the reach and monetization scope for creators. It allows for more dynamic advertising models, including video ads, sponsored content, and visual product placements, which might be less impactful in audio-only formats. Audiences’ increasingly diverse consumption patterns present audio and visual monetization opportunities. This diversification of revenue streams can be crucial for the sustainability and growth of content creators.

Personalization and Complexity in Storytelling: Video podcasts and audio offer a rich platform for storytelling. Creators can utilize visual aids, on-screen graphics, and other visual elements to convey complex information in an accessible and engaging manner. This enhanced storytelling capability is precious in educational, technical, or narrative-driven content, where visual elements can clarify and enrich the subject matter.

Synergy with Social Media Trends: The rise of social media platforms prioritizing short- and long-form video content has further propelled the popularity of live videos and video podcasts. These platforms offer an ideal stage for video podcasts to flourish, providing content creators access to large, engaged, interactive communities and the opportunity to tap into viral trends.

Technological Evolution Supporting Quality and Accessibility: Video streaming and the widespread availability of ubiquitous high-speed wireless internet have democratized the production and consumption of high-resolution video content. The technological strides have made it easier for creators to produce and distribute video podcasts, ensuring a professional and accessible viewing experience for audiences worldwide. We are also seeing innovations in RSS around the Podcasting 2.0 project namespace to expand the abilities of that open download distribution method vs proprietary HLS streaming. We must be open to utilizing this HLS streaming technology outsidemassive big tech platforms like YouTube.

Meeting New Audiences Expectations: Publishing content in audio and video versions that fit with younger and even older audiences. The younger demographics strongly prefer video-based content and can increasingly consume it on mobile in vertical and landscape formats. Video podcasts align perfectly with these evolving expectations, offering a format that resonates with the visual-centric consumption habits of modern viewers. These short mobile videos increasingly display synchronized text transcriptions on screen for mute consumption in many languages via AI transcription and translation technology.

Interactivity and Community Building: Video show podcasts can enable compelling interactive experiences. Formats like live streaming with real-time audience interaction, Q&As, and polls directly engage viewers and foster loyalty and community around and outside the videos. This interactivity enhances the viewer experience and builds a more substantial relationship with the show host and other audience members.

Brand Identity and Visual Impact: Independently produced video and audio shows are a powerful brand-building tool for individual creators and companies of all sizes. The visual element of these podcast shows helps forge a distinct and memorable brand, product, services, customer education, connection, and support relationships, setting this media opportunity in the vast media landscape.

The fusion of audio and video in the form of audio/video podcasts is not just a trend but a significant re-emerging shift in content consumption. This back to the future evolution is a response to technological advancements and changing audience preferences, positioning video podcasts as an integral and future-forward component in content strategies worldwide. The article will delve into these aspects, providing insights, examples, and expert opinions to offer a comprehensive understanding of the impact and potential of video podcasts in the current media ecosystem.

Brand Safety and Suitability in Podcast Advertising: Navigating Content Alignment And Possible Podcaster Self-Censorship

By Rob Greenlee, Spoken Life Media – rob.greenlee at gmail com

In the dynamic world of podcasting and other user-generated content (UGC), aligning an advertiser brand with specific content topics and themes that reflect its brand values has become a rapidly growing consideration. Advertisers are often concerned about their brand’s reputation in the era of social media and the battle over free speech. Brands increasingly want to ensure their ads run in brand-safe and suitably compatible politically aligned podcast shows and topics to create more accurate matching between a brand being advertised and content in the program being broadcast.

This concern brings to the fore the growing use of brand safety and suitability tools built from AI-derived transcripts and AI analyses of the context of the content to create a GARM (2) World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) moderation rating and rankings of podcast content from a historical or past episode perspective to project a show series safety and suitability for an ad buy in the future. These tools assure advertisers that their advertisements appear in content that the rating it is given aligns with their desired brand values and ethics.

Another entity with significant impact in this area starts up in full swing this coming next month. This announcement from NewsGuard’s global team of misinformation experts will have rated the top 200 news podcasts on the largest streaming platforms by January 2024. These podcasts comprise the bulk of overall news and information podcast listenership and present valuable audiences for brands to reach.

NewsGuard has partnered with three of the largest podcast streaming platforms, which will (hopefully) inform their business partners of the availability or use of this technology from NewsGuard ratings. These three large partner platform names have not been disclosed to date. Concerns around podcaster host self-censorship on the part of these news and political podcasts is a big issue.

Using the NewsGuard Podcast ratings criteria for agencies and brands can decide to:

Target only trustworthy podcasts by filtering based on overall score or risk level—for example, only buying ads on podcasts that score a 7 and above or receive a “lowest risk” rating.

Then also:
– Avoid advertising on podcasts that regularly convey false information.
– Avoid advertising on heavily biased or politically slanted news shows.

Reduced Number of Shows and Reach is a Danger to Content Creators

Brand safety can become a hindrance rather than a help to content creators and advertisers. Advertisers have reduced the number of content channels they are willing to support with advertising. This can create a monetary penalty to discuss topics that a brand may not agree with on a political spectrum that audiences may want to hear about, as the content topic could be considered misinformation or a conspiracy theory today. Still, in a future timeframe, it could be discovered to be verified truth. This has the consequence of limiting the potential reach to listeners/viewers and the campaigns’ budgets.

In a 2023 survey by Alter Agents, only 8% of podcast listeners care to avoid controversial topicsHowever, 73% of listeners say that controversial topics would not affect their purchase of brands that advertise on those podcasts. About half of listeners would think more positively of a brand after pairing with controversial content. 

There is research showing 2/3 of listeners do object to some types of speech like racist, cruel and derogitory content does turnoff listeners from a podcast. Here is an outline on this research from InsideRadio article post. Further the listeners don’t transfer the content objection to the advertiser.

Podcast brand safety versus brand suitability

While often used interchangeably, they have distinct differences. Brand safety in podcasts refers to ensuring that a brand’s advertising does not appear alongside content universally deemed inappropriate or harmful, such as the expanding scope of hate speech or explicit material. This is about avoiding negative associations that could harm the brand’s reputation and perception if the wrong association results in lower ROI or harms the brand reputation related to an advertising campaign.

On the other hand, brand suitability is more nuanced and subjective. It involves aligning a brand’s advertising with podcast content that avoids harmful content topics and resonates with the brand’s values and the interests of the brands percieved target audience wether true or accurate or not given the research showing less audience concerns or impact on advertiser brands.

The term Suitability is increasingly being used over Safety yet is still about finding the right fit for the brand in terms of podcast content rating based on GARM content ratings scales to discover the subtle context differences in discussion topics in a given historical look at past episodes of a podcast to project its content suitability for future advertising campaigns in that podcast series, and alignment of audience, ensuring that the advertising feels relevant and appropriate within the context of the specific podcast content. While brand safety sets a baseline standard for content, brand suitability goes a step further to align advertising with content that positively complements and enhances the brand’s image.

Clarification for Content Creators

For content creators, understanding brand safety and Suitability is crucial. Recognizing that brand safety doesn’t mean you need to self-censor your content to align with a specific advertiser is essential. However, the risk remains that the creator will adjust the topics to appeal to more advertisers. Losing an advertising campaign due to a misalignment or past content can be a genuine concern. However, knowing what constitutes brand-safe values and the types of content that a brand may not want to associate with is key. Advertisers increasingly influence content editorially, directing their funds toward approved content topics.

The Evolution of Content Alignment

Traditionally, brand alignment with shows focused primarily on listener demographics and genre topics. However, the podcast advertising industry has always struggled to obtain complete demographic information about audiences because of the open nature and distributed aspect of the listening side via RSS and non-demographic sharing platforms. This aspect of podcasting drives a stronger focus on content topics to target better ads based on the contextual relevance of topics to advertisers.

Debunking Myths: The True Crime and Comedy Case Study

Many advertisers hesitate to associate with specific genres like true crime or comedy due to misconceptions about their content. However, our research, including interviews with brand marketers and a survey of 6,000 podcast listeners, reveals that what marketers consider “risky” can offer significant opportunities. For instance, while true crime might be controversial, listeners often find it thought-provoking and stress-reducing. This genre, primarily attracting female listeners, offers advertisers a demographic with strong purchasing power.

Controversial Topics: Less Risky Than Thought

Consider a scenario where a listener is engaged with a comedy podcast that includes mature language. About half would think more positively of a brand after its association with controversial content. This data suggests that audiences are more receptive to ads in these contexts than previously believed.

Importance of Ad Content Quality Over Topic Fit

Interestingly, about 80% of podcast listeners listen through ads, with a significant portion recalling brands unaided. This indicates that the quality of the ad content is more critical than its thematic fit with the podcast genre. High-quality promotions that match the podcast’s style are more effective than those that strictly align with the podcast’s subject matter.

Trusting the Host

Podcast hosts play a pivotal role in influencing listeners. A study by Acast shows podcast listeners trust hosts more than any other medium. Around 80% of listeners feel it’s important for hosts to do their research, and over half trust hosts to only advertise brands worth sponsoring. Advertising on a podcast, irrespective of whether the ad is host-produced or not, generally casts the brand in a positive light.

Expanding Audio Horizons

Brands should consider broadening their horizons and experimenting with new genres, titles, and styles in their podcast promotion strategy. This approach can open up avenues to reach more engaged audiences without being restricted by overly cautious brand safety measures and increase ad spending in the podcasting industry.

Brand safety and suitability in podcast advertising is a nuanced field. Advertisers should focus on understanding their audience’s perception of different genres and leverage brand safety tools effectively and make sure they are not used to drive a politically biased and speech censoring agenda. Meanwhile, content creators must be aware of these dynamics and should not feel pressured into self-censorship and accept that certain advertisers may not be available to them if they want to discuss controversial topics.

By embracing a broader range of content and trusting in the quality of their advertisements and the influence of podcast hosts, brands can engage with their audience more effectively and authentically.

For most of the 20 years of the podcasting medium, podcasts have been primarily free speech and open distribution. Brand Safety and Suitability tools enable moderation of podcast content beyond what was previously possible.

Unveiling the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Men: A Comprehensive Guide

By Rob Greenlee

It would be correct that this is not a podcasting topic article and that I have other interests and experiences beyond podcasting. So, in recent years, intermittent fasting (IF) has surged in popularity as a health and fitness trend, especially among men seeking sustainable ways to improve their health.

This eating pattern, which cycles between periods of fasting and eating, is praised not just for its weight loss effects but also for a myriad of other health benefits. I have adopted this lifestyle to improve my body’s healing ability and have lost plenty of unneeded extra body fat.

Some advantages I have experienced of intermittent fasting, specifically for men, are backed by scientific insights.

Weight Loss and Fat Reduction

This is one of the most compelling reasons for men to start daily intermittent fasting for weight loss and fat reduction. By limiting the window of food intake, IF naturally reduces calorie consumption, aiding in weight loss. Moreover, fasting periods trigger hormonal changes that facilitate fat burning. Studies have shown that IF can significantly reduce body weight and body fat percentage, making it an effective tool for those aiming to shed extra pounds.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity

Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial in preventing type 2 diabetes – a condition that disproportionately affects men. By enhancing the body’s response to insulin, IF helps regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of developing diabetes.

Heart Health

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among men globally. IF benefits heart health by positively influencing various cardiovascular risk factors. It can lower blood pressure, reduce harmful cholesterol levels, and decrease triglycerides. Additionally, fasting has been associated with a reduction in markers of inflammation, further protecting heart health.

Brain Health

Emerging research suggests that intermittent fasting may bolster brain health. It’s linked to a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are of particular concern as men age. Fasting triggers a process known as autophagy, where cells repair themselves, potentially leading to improved brain function and longevity.

Boost in Growth Hormone Secretion

Growth hormone plays a vital role in muscle development, strength, and physical performance – aspects of health many men prioritize. IF can increase growth hormone secretion, aiding in muscle maintenance and growth, which is crucial for overall physical fitness.

Cellular Repair and Longevity

Intermittent fasting promotes autophagy, the body’s mechanism of removing damaged cells, which may increase longevity. This cellular repair process is essential for maintaining healthy bodily function and preventing age-related diseases.

Mental Clarity and Concentration

Many men report enhanced mental clarity and improved concentration during fasting periods. This could be due to the body’s adaptation to burning fat for energy instead of glucose, leading to stable energy levels without the dips associated with regular eating patterns.

Reduced Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is the root cause of many diseases. IF has been shown to reduce inflammation, providing an added layer of protection against various chronic conditions.

Intermittent fasting offers a range of benefits for men, from weight loss and improved heart health to enhanced brain function and reduced inflammation. However, it’s crucial to approach this dietary pattern cautiously and under professional guidance, especially for those with existing health conditions. As with any lifestyle change, individual responses can vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. Thus, consulting with healthcare providers before embarking on an intermittent fasting journey is advisable for a safe and practical experience.