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Voxnest State of the Podcast Universe: Key trends for mid-2020

Voxnest released a mid-year interim report, part of its State of the Podcast Universe, which is an annual release at year-end. From the intro: “While our State of the Podcast Universe Report is typically only released once at the end of the year, we decided that taking a moment to reflect on and analyze the industry more than once a year is important because of how quickly podcasting continues to evolve.” All the more so because of coronavirus disruption, the report’s introduction observes.

The report is divided into four main observational sections corresponding to podcast business sectors:

Business Trends: Here, Voxnest recognizes the growth of emerging podcast networks, what the report calls “a precise layer between individual podcasters and massive enterprises.” This is a trend and a phenomenon we have observed as well, and which is reflected to some extent in our Pod Drop series. Also in the business section, Voxnest ruminates over Spotify’s apparent effort to take the lead in podcast distribution, and notes that Apple appears to have slacked its efforts: “Over the last 15 months, it’s gone from a tug-of-war to a conqueror steadily taking claim of territory each month.”

Advertising Trends: the major observation here is that listeners are accepting more ads: “As with any type of media that begins ad-free, it can be an uphill battle to get consumers to accept advertising. However, as our industry knows from the last several years of data, it’s well worth the fight because of how engaged podcast listeners are.” Voxnest looks at its own data for verification;  the Voxnest Audience Network (VAN), with its more than 200-million monthly streams and downloads around the world, is the laboratory for observations and measurements. This section notes that programmatic advertising grew 137% by end of 2019, and the trend is continuing in an upward direction in 2020 (by 65% since January). At the same time, Voxnest identifies a “dynamic evolution” for host-read ads,” and clarifies that host reads can be recorded and dynamically inserted, a point often lost in discussions and debates of automated ad insertion for podcasting. 

Listening Trends: We are not surprised to see Listening Trends as the biggest, most data-stuffed and chart-decorated section of the report. Voxnest loves measuring insights and trends from its big aggregated audience. One headline here is that Spotify is leading Apple in serving podcasts in 80 markets (including some U.S. states) — 33% more, Voxnest finds in its audience, than Spotify itself claims (they say 60 markets). The details are too numerous to quote here (see below for the report download link). There is a great deal of fascinating measurement reported in this section (would you guess that Turkey is the fastest-growing podcast listening country?). There is a chart of podcast listening in Italy. Also Spain. Voxnest loves to crunch them some metrics. 

Content Trends: Here, we see that Latin-language podcasts grabbed a headline — Spanish and Portuguese podcasts, specifically. This section also describes the importance of a podcast strength: Real-time storytelling. 

Looking forward, the report ends optimistically, with a cautionary note that 2020’s many uncertainties make prediction risky. But, this: “We think there’s a lot of potential for the industry to remain on track to fulfill the IAB’s 2019 projections of podcast ad revenue reaching $1 billion by 2021.”

The report is free. GO HERE to get it. 

Brad Hill

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