This year’s IAB Podcast Upfronts uncovered expanding growth in content, data and increased appetite for consumption. We learned from over 450 industry leaders and professionals, and one thing is clear…if you haven’t already, it’s time to invest in podcast advertising. With more information, research and content than ever before, we’re excited to see the industry expanding into 2020 based on the key takeaways below.

A New Type of Growth in Podcasting

By 2021, podcasting is slated to be a $1 billion industry. Not only is this industry rapidly growing, but its audience is also expanding and diversifying, reaching more women and minority groups than ever before. Research from Stitcher has found that new listeners to podcasting (defined as listening less than one year) are younger (31 percent are 13-24), 65 percent female and 30 percent non-white. Audience growth isn’t slowing down either. Podcast listening is surging closer to mainstream level, with 80 percent YOY growth in total streams and downloads for the top 20 U.S. podcasts, per podcast analytics firm Podtrac. With these findings, major media companies are now engaged in creating innovative shows and content to reach these niche fans and committed listeners.

Finding Connection Through Podcasting

Our friend, Hernan Lopez, Founder and CEO of Wondery, kicked off the event stating, “engagement matters now more than ever!” This is even more poignant in today’s increasingly isolated society where human connection seems to be getting lost as a result of technology addictions. Lizzie Widhelm, SVP of Ad Innovation Strategy at Pandora, with partners from the NY Times, TD Ameritrade, and Lantigua Williams & Co., discussed how podcasts encourage deep conversations that bridge gaps and foster community building, something that is becoming increasingly important in this digital age. Podcasts are reaching these audience members looking for a sense of community and belonging because they allow listeners to build a one on one relationship between themselves and the show, fulfilling that longing for human connection. People feel emotionally connected to podcasts and their hosts, which is why performance advertising is so successful.

Listeners Know What They Want

There truly is a podcast out there for everyone and listeners know what they want. Research shows that 65 percent of listeners ignore broadcast radio ads, however research from Wondery states, “78 percent of consumers don’t mind advertisements on podcasts, because audiences are actively listening and interested.” Audiences are increasingly turning to podcasting for relatable targeted advertising they can trust. The likeliness to use and buy products increases by more than two-fold when hearing ads through Podcasting. According to Stitcher, 90 percent of listeners take action after hearing an ad on a podcast. Even, Ira Glass of This American Life and SERIAL says, “There’s an intimacy to this medium which creates a bond with the audience that carries over to advertisers.” In order to continue growth, creators must ensure that their programming is sincere, honest and authentic.