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Digital audio consumption is moving to mobile. eMarketer estimates that this year, the number of US smartphone music listeners will grow nearly 15% to come in at just under 100 million consumers, or 52.3% of smartphone users. At the same time, 77.3 million people will listen to music via tablets, or 45.5% of digital music listeners and 48.7% of tablet users.
According to February 2015 research by Edison Research and Triton Digital, another type of digital audio has gone mobile: podcasts. Fully 55% of US consumers ages 12 and older who had ever listened to a podcast said they used a smartphone, tablet or portable audio player most frequently to do so. This was up 4 percentage points year over year at the expense of computers, which saw their share drop to 42%.
As mobile usage becomes the norm, the shift to mobile podcast consumption is taking place alongside audience growth. In 2015, one-third of respondents said they had listened to a podcast, up from three in 10 in 2014. This works out to an estimated podcast audience of nearly 90 million, according to Edison and Triton. Monthly and weekly podcast listening were also on the rise. Fully 17% of respondents had listened to podcasts in the past month, and 10% had done so in the week leading up to polling—respective year-over-year growth rates of 13.3% and 25.0%.
The study found high listening frequency among the podcast audience. Weekly podcast listeners—estimated at approximately 27 million people—listened to an average of six podcasts per week. About one-quarter had listened to six or more podcasts in the week leading up to polling, among whom over six in 10 had consumed 11 or more.
Frequent podcast listening suggests marketers could leverage the medium to reach a fairly engaged audience. For now, though, usage is low. Among marketers polled worldwide by Salesforce Marketing Cloud in November 2014, just 15% used podcasts—the lowest response rate out of all digital marketing channels and tactics included. Based on September 2014 research by ExactTarget and LinkedIn, this could pick up. The study found a slightly higher level of podcast usage among US senior-level business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketers, at 21%, and an additional 19% said they were piloting or planning to use podcasts in the next 12 months.
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