eMarketer Report: Podcasting Still Popular…And Growing

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Those of you who know me, will know that I am a big fan of podcasting. In fact, podcasting is what really got me into the whole Web 2.0 and social media circle to begin with (I started getting involved in late 2004 / early 2005).

Podcasting — in it’s original audio format — really took off in mid-2005 and early 2006, particularly after Apple launched iTunes 4.9 with a podcast directory. Since then, it’s gained momentum in both audio and video format , thanks in part to the exponential growth of iPods and other MP3 players, as well as the early adopting marketers wanting to embrace new technologies and target niche audiences.

However, with the advent of video-sharing (e.g. YouTube), and social networking (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, etc.) sites in 2006 and beyond, together with a number of initial podcasters fading away into oblivion (I admit, I pod-faded, but I’m coming back!), there has been a sense of doubt whether podcasting actually took off at all or if it was merely a fad.

So, it is with great pleasure that I recently came across a report by eMarketer, called Podcast Audience: Seeking Riches in Niches, which claims that podcasting has indeed taken off, both in terms of popularity as well as ad revenue spend, and will continue to grow:

Podcast Audience 2007-2012

eMarketer estimates that the total US podcast audience reached 18.5 million in 2007… Furthermore, that audience will increase by 251% to 65 million in 2012. And of those listeners, 25 million will be “active” users who tune in at least once a week… Driven by this audience growth, US spending on podcast-related advertising (including sponsorships) will rise to $435 million in 2012, up from $165 million in 2007…

Podcast Ad Spending 2007-2012

A number of factors are driving the growth of the podcast-user base:

* Greater ease of consumption for podcast content
* Growing awareness of podcasting
* Terrestrial radio’s use and promotion of podcasting
* Increased penetration of portable players
* The evolution of smart phones and proliferation of affordable mobile data plans

Here’s some additional insightful commentary (about the eMarketer report) from TechCrunch:

The revenue figures will bring a smile to any VC firm with investments in the sector… One interesting aside was eMarketer attributing the growth to podcasts being promoted by the mainstream media. What they didn’t add is that many of the top lists globally on iTunes today also have a strong presence from those very sources; while greater awareness of podcasting is growing the overall market for podcasts, the mainstream media is taking a big slice of the pie.

All this is great news for the world of podcasting and I am very glad to hear that advertisers are finally understanding the power of the medium. However, even though revenue generating podcasts are now quite widespread, I don’t think we can quite consider it “mainstream” just yet, as there are few podcasts that are really raking in the big bucks like a more traditional media channel.

SIDEBAR: As it turns out, to obtain the full 19 page report from eMarketer will cost you a whopping $695… That’s about $37 per page, folks! Now what is a typical podcast ad CPM again? Hmmm… Maybe we (podcasters) should all consider writing reports on consumer behavior instead?

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