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About this episode:

In the inaugural episode of “About That”, Carl Mayer speaks to Tess Erickson, Director of Strategy and Research at Involved Media, about the agency’s Connected Audiences Spring Report on Connected Audio. For full access to the results and webinar from the Connected Audio report, visit involvedmedia.com.

About Tess Erickson:

Tess Erickson is a research professional dedicated to understanding what drives consumer behavior, from the first spark of interest to the final purchase and beyond. As Director of Strategy and Research at Involved Media, Tess conducts proprietary research focused on filling in the knowledge gaps about the modern media consumer as well as creating and re-evaluating media strategies for new and existing clients. Prior to focusing on media, Tess worked in market research at Ipsos and previously attended NYU, concentrating in the biological basis of economic decision-making.  


Carl Mayer: Welcome to “About That”. I’m Carl Mayer here in the offices of Involved Media. Joining me this afternoon is Tess Erickson. Hello.

Tess Erickson: Thank you for having me.

CM: And Tess, you are the director of strategy and research at Involved. I just did a great webinar, your second in a series about connected audiences. This one was all about audio. And if you’d like to check it out, there’s a link at the bottom of this video. And I encourage you to watch and maybe just shut this off, watch it and come back because we’re going to talk a little more deeply into that, starting with podcasts as they continue to grow and evolve very rapidly. They’ve taken on video as a component and not just as a component, but a real integral part of the podcast with lights and sets and multi cameras to the point where somebody watching it might not even realize they’re watching a podcast. It’s just a show. When your research is based on respondents’ answers about what they’re watching, how does that impact the results?

TE: Yeah, that certainly is the biggest challenge that we face when we’re designing a study like this, trying to make sure that the questions we ask reflect the way people are thinking about the media they watch. So as you said, video has become so overwhelmingly popular in the podcast space, but that makes it so much harder for consumers to differentiate podcasts from other media and even from people like us who have a very clear sense of podcast. It can still be different, difficult to differentiate. For instance, a show like The Daily Show has an audio only version of their programme that is a podcast, but that doesn’t mean watching The Daily Show is watching a podcast. So trying to separate that type of listening and viewership is definitely the biggest challenge we had here, especially when it comes to these videos being clipped up and put on short form. So the choice we had to make was to focus on people who are knowingly listening to podcasts, who are seeking podcasts out and regularly listening to podcasts and trying not to capture as much of those marginal podcast listeners who may not even be seeking podcasts out, who may have had podcasts passively served to them.

CM: And, as podcasts mature and take out all these other audio visual traits, they’re also becoming much more of a force in the advertising market. It’s no longer just mail order mattresses and meal prep kits. What’s going on in the in the ad industry for podcasts?

TE: Yeah, we find podcast ads are especially valuable. We mentioned in the webinar, but especially compared to ad supported streaming audio of other types, podcasts have a really high-income audience and, specifically an audience that is likely to pay to avoid ads in other places. So podcast ads can be the only way to reach certain audiences that are more ad phobic in general. The other piece that makes podcast advertising so valuable going into this coming election is that the most common listen to genre of podcast is news and politics. So that means that you are getting access to that news conscious, politically conscious consumer that that advertisers may have been formally list reaching through news on TV or video. So those video platforms, the inventory has gotten really tight or will continue to get tighter as political advertisers by those spots up. So for those advertisers who are now unable to place media on those valuable placements in video news, having these opportunities to place ads that reach that news conscious consumer in podcasts is invaluable.

CM: And so, you know, going from the cutting edge of podcast to the old school traditional terrestrial radio, a lot of people certainly I always assumed that the traditional AM drive, PM drive being the two spikes of listenership still held true. Turns out that’s not the case.

TE: Yeah, well, there are a few things happening there. We do see that radio still has a solid place in people’s morning commutes. People are still turning it on as they maybe drop their kids off as they get themselves to work. They’re checking in on the weather, on the traffic. But that evening drive home has been co-opted by streaming audio and other opportunities. It may be that people are turning on a podcast at work, then listening to continuing to listen to them in the car. It’s also that they may have more time to select the music that they’re they want to hear on their ride home. So we do see that again, radio is still a major part of people’s mornings. But in that in that evening drive home, we do see a lot more streaming audio taking up that space.

CM: And as you went through the research and put together the webinar, was there anything you came upon that just confounded your expectation and really surprised you?

TE: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that I found surprising was even though we know there’s been an increase in record sales, we still are seeing that only 20% of people say that they watched the OR they listened to media that they owned in the last 30 days. So only 20% of people are listening to the music they own or listening to the audiobook they bought. Instead, they are going to these huge streaming libraries to get anything they want to listen to. So I was surprised to see that that vinyl purchasing that we’ve seen in the music industry didn’t necessarily translate to more people actually listening to those vinyls. They maybe are instead keeping them in the original packaging is more of a collectors item than a functional piece of media.

CM: And as we look to the future, and what’s next for your webinars and your studies? What’s the next topic you’re going to be focusing on?

TE: Thanks for asking. As we mentioned earlier, short form has become a huge part of the podcast industry that people are that there are lots of podcasts that I would venture to say have had way more people engage with them on a short form platform than the original platform they were posted to. And so short form video is what we will be focusing on in our next study. We also will be expanding past the US and Canada into Australia. So it’ll be exciting to see both the results of how short form is taking over different areas of people’s media consumption, but also how a new market in Australia compares to what we’ve seen in North America.

CM: I definitely look forward to checking that out and perhaps talking about it here on a future episode of “About That”. Tess Erickson, thank you for joining me today.

TE: Thank you for having me.

CM: And we’ll see you next time on “About That”. I’m Carl Mayer. That’s Tess Erickson.