The Year in Audio

Written By

Liz Iversen

Published On

Thursday, Dec 16
Older man holding an old radio and disco ball.

2021 was a big year in audio. Podcast listenership continued to soar, smart speaker usage surged, and radio was proven to be the most trusted medium. Read on for the year’s top 10 audio highlights from SMI—and reasons to believe in the power of audio.

1. Podcast audiences are larger and more diverse than ever. Approximately eighty million Americans, or 28% of Americans aged 12 and older, listen to a podcast each week. And 41%, or 116 million Americans, listen to podcasts monthly, according to the annual Infinite Dial report from Edison Research and Triton Digital. 

2. Radio is the most trusted medium. 67% of adults rate radio as trustworthy or very trustworthy, surpassing newspapers (66%), network TV (62%), cable TV (61%), computer internet (57%), mobile internet (51%), and social media, which came in last place at 32%, according to a Katz analysis. 

3. Podcast advertising is deemed “pandemic-proof.”  The Interactive Advertising Bureau estimates that podcast revenue grew 14.7% in 2020 and predicts the podcast industry’s annual revenue will exceed $1 billion in 2021.

4. You can double your reach for a quarter of your TV budget by switching to radio, study finds. When one major advertiser replaced TV with radio, they reached nearly twice as many consumers for a quarter of their TV budget.

5. Radio’s weekly reach hits its highest level since March 2020. In May, Nielsen PPM data signaled recovery for out-of-home radio listening as people got back on the road and into the office.

6. Smart speaker ownership soars and brings AM/FM radio back into the home. Smart speaker ownership has quintupled since 2017, and over one in three Americans owns a smart speaker, according to Edison’s “Share of Ear” study

7. A WARC study reveals why you should triple your ad spend. Brands are overspending on TV and digital by 32% and underspending on audio by a factor of 3X, WARC showed in a study called “The Investment Gap: Understanding the Value of Audio.” 

8. Audio is proven to be the “most immersive” medium. Audio is “the most engaging, the most immersive medium, far ahead of social, far ahead of TV,” according to the Engaged Impressions study by Audacy, Immersion, and research consultancy Alter Agents.

9. Radio delivers impressive web lift, study finds. Radio drove an incremental 28% lift in web traffic for a major consumer packaged goods company. The study by Katz and AnalyticOwl found radio to be a “massive driver of awareness and engagement.” 

10. Streaming audio/podcasting is expected to be one of the top growing media channels in 2022. Streaming audio/podcasting surged 24.7% in 2021 over 2020, and marketing research firm Borrell predicts it will grow another 17.8% in 2022.

Are you ready to advertise on audio? To hear your brand on satellite, streaming, or broadcast radio and podcasts, contact SMI today.

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