Millennial Minute: Who Is Really Listening to Podcasts?

Our latest infographic shows the value of using podcasts for B2B marketing

November 7, 2016


Marketers are always looking for the next big channel, that emerging platform that we can adopt early and build an audience before the zeitgeist catches up. That’s not, in and of itself, a bad impulse. As long as there’s some evaluation and strategizing before you jump in, go right ahead and stay cutting-edge.

As you chase the next horizon, though, don’t miss out on older channels that have plenty of unlockable potential left. Case in point: Podcasts.

Podcasts are not the next new anything. There are fantastic podcasts (like Six Pixels of Separation) that are nearly old enough to drive. They’ve already been the next big thing twice over, and both times have retreated quickly from the limelight.

And while many marketers have moved on, podcasts quietly continue to draw huge numbers of listeners. Recently, LinkedIn conducted a survey of over 2500 members. We wanted to see who listens to podcasts, who doesn’t, and who isn’t sure what a podcast is. Here’s what we learned:

1. Podcasts Are Fully Mainstream

Our results show podcasts aren’t a niche hobby anymore. As little as five years ago, the average person on the street would have been confused by the term itself. Our study found that only 8% of our respondents had never heard of podcasts.

Over a third of our respondents said they listen to podcasts regularly. To put the size of that audience in perspective, if a third of all LinkedIn members listen to podcasts, that’s an audience of nearly 150 million.

2. Millennials Are Leading the Way

Podcast listenership was closely correlated with age in our study. Millennials under 35 were by far the most likely to listen, with nearly half saying they listened regularly. Those 35-64 years old were slightly less likely to tune in, and those over 65 were even less likely to listen.

Granted, part of the correlation might be that podcasts are more likely to be aimed at millennials and Gen X’ers than their older counterparts. Seniors might be an underserved market worth exploring.

3. Decision Makers Are Listening

We separated out senior-level decision makers (Department Heads, VPs, Owners and C-Suite executives) and found a higher proportion of them listen to podcasts. Forty-four percent of decision makers who know what a podcast is say they make time to listen to them. That’s compared to 36% of their less senior colleagues.

It’s always been a challenge for B2B marketers to earn time and attention from busy decision makers. These findings suggest podcasts are a solid way to connect. A podcast that provides real business value could be just the right content to make a difference.

4. Podcasts Are Worldwide

While it may seem podcasts are a uniquely American invention, the format has proved popular around the world. We found similar levels of listenership in Brazil, Canada, and throughout Europe. Even in India, the country with the lowest listenership of our survey, nearly a quarter of all respondents listened to podcasts.

In addition to listening in their native countries, 40% of listeners intend to travel outside their home country for business or pleasure in the next six months.

If you’re looking to reach a young, influential, global audience, podcasts are a channel worth exploring. We’ve seen as much with the Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast. Given how simple and low-cost it can be to start a podcast, it may be time for your organization to step up to the mic.

For more marketing insight about millennials, by millennials, download The Millennial Playbook.