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March 14, 2018

The Audio Landscape in 2018

Today, streaming audio, podcasts, and even smart speakers are all a major part of the audio space.

Last week, Edison Research and Triton Digital released their annual report called “The Infinite Dial” which measures year-over-year trends in media usage habits, particularly in the audio space. The report gives an interesting and informative view on the current audio landscape and how consumers are consuming audio content in 2018. Its findings reinforce the notion that the audio space continues to grow very complex. Let’s take a look at the latest data.

  • Smart Speaker penetration is growing. As we reported in a previous Monitor post, smart speakers from Amazon and Google are gaining traction, with usage and penetration expected to grow significantly in the next four years. The new “Infinite Dial” report confirms this, stating that 18% of the 12+ population now owns either an Amazon Alexa or Google Home device – an increase from just 7% in 2017. Of those who own a smart speaker, 33% have two or more in their household. We may even see these devices replace radios in the home. In 2008, 96% of the population had one or more radios in the home, but in 2018, that number has dropped to 71%.
  • Podcasting is still gaining in popularity. Previously, in another Monitor post we discussed the growth of podcasts and the new opportunities they bring to advertisers. According to the new “Infinite Dial” study, podcasting is still on the rise, with 44% of the 12+ population having ever listened to a podcast – an increase from 40% in 2017. 26% of the population has listened to a podcast in the last month (up from 24% in 2017). This increase stems from all age ranges; however, adults 25-54 currently have the highest monthly usage at 32%. Almost half (49%) of podcast listening takes place at home, whereas 22% of podcast listening occurs in the car.
  • Pandora remains the dominant streaming audio brand, but others are catching up. When looking at streaming audio brands, Pandora still ranks #1, with 31% of the 12+ population having listened in the last month, followed by Spotify at 20%. However, Spotify has shown continued growth over the past couple years and is definitely still a strong player. The choice may come down to who an advertiser is looking to reach. According to the 2017 MRI Doublebase survey, the average age of Pandora listeners is 38, whereas Spotify’s is 33.

edison research

  • Don’t count out traditional radio. While the digital options above are changing the way we think about audio, the “Infinite Dial” report reaffirms that traditional radio is still strong, especially in the car. Of the 18+ population who has driven or rode in a car in the last month, 82% have used AM/FM radio. The AM/FM radio usage in the car is much stronger than that of online radio, which comes in at 28%, as well as podcasts at 23%. If you find that your target audience spends a lot of time on the road, traditional radio may still be a strong audio option for getting your message across.

The term “audio” no longer applies to traditional radio only. Especially given the fact that consumers use different platforms throughout their day, whether they are at home or traveling. As streaming audio, podcasting, and smart speakers continue to grow, advertisers need to take a holistic view of the landscape and evaluate which options will best reach their target audience based on usage and demographics. The new report reaffirms our belief that all platforms need to be considered when developing an audio campaign, a belief we will continue to stress to our clients to ensure they are successfully reaching their consumers on all audio platforms.