Podcasts: a Win-Win for Both Parties

This summer, I had found myself in a very systematic, tight schedule in order to get dressed, pack my bag, make a lunch, etc. before work. Every morning my roommates and I would leave at 7:30AM to Cleveland Circle T stop to catch a seat for our commute. On our walk, we would catch up small talk, gossip, and whatever else was going on that week. But as soon as we got to our seats on the T, we kind of slowly stopped talking and put our headphones in. For the first part of my summer, I would listen to some Spotify playlists and jam out to the latest Top Hits. After a while, it got pretty boring. I would listen to the same stuff and trust me, even with time, “Look at What You Made Me Do” doesn’t get better. Taylor….


So, I asked some of my commuter friends for recommendations and to my surprise, they all had started listening to podcasts. I was really caught off guard because I had this stereotype in my head that podcasts are boring and not very entertaining. But I found that the podcasts they were listening to be hilarious, informing, and very enjoyable. Some friends listened to Guys We’ve F****d, others listened to This American Life, and Serial is a fan favorite. When they had told me about their new form of entertainment, I took to researching and what I found may not surprise you, but it definitely surprised me.

According to the Podcastinsights.com, the Nielson Report and Edison Research report broke down how podcasts are taking over the audio industry and the people this form of audio entertainment attracts. Here is a wicked cool infographic that they shared:


Some of the most surprising statistics to me was that 50% of US houses are “podcast fans.” Podcast loyalists subscribe to 5 shows on average per week. 5! And that 51% of podcast listening is done in listeners’ homes, while only 22% are done while driving/in a vehicle. The most impressive statistic to me is definitely that 65% of monthly podcast listeners have only been listening to podcasts for less than 3 years! That is an incredible statistic when thinking of exponential growth!

Because of this growth, I was curious about where I could find these podcasts and how there was a lot of potential for many platforms to compete over this growing market. Of course, there is the Podcast App within Apple Products. But there is a list of others that have gained great popularity and high ratings in user reviews: Overcast, Pocket Casts, Castro, and Spotify.

Diving into a new side to my Spotify interface, I looked into Podcasts that I might be interested in. Conveniently broken down into genres, just like the music, I found it very easy to browse.

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I fished through the Lifestyle genre, clicked on a couple, started listening to some but honestly, I turned them off because I found some of the personalities very annoying or frustrating. It really has to be a good fit if you will only be listening to certain voices for good amounts of time ranging from 30 to 60 minute+ episodes. It also has to be a topic that you are genuinely interested by and find beneficial. Frustrated, I kept searching for the podcast that I was hoping to find in order to turn my drab commutes into ~fab~ ones, well as much as morning commutes on the Green Line could be…


It’s actually hilarious how bad it is.

I revisited the Browse page and ended up finding a couple different series offered as recaps of different TV shows or movies. So naturally, I searched for a Game of Thrones podcast. Not surprised, I found PLENTY OF OPTIONS, because I’ve heard GOT fans seem to be obsessed. I am not* speaking from personal experience….

After listening to a couple different series, I found the ~one~…  BINGE MODE: Game of Thornes. Advertised on Spotify: “Deep-dive into each and every episode of Game of Thrones by binge-watching and listening alongside The Ringer’s experts, Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion. Listen as the parse the theories, history, characters, and themes that enrich one of the defining stories of our time.” I immediately subscribed/followed to the podcast and would listen to each episode as soon as it became available, just a couple days after Sunday night’s premiere. I found it entertaining, funny, useful to my GOT obsession, and it really helped me dive deeper into my understanding of the episode. I use their theories and fun facts all the time with my GOT watching friends.



As it enabled my fixation on this incredible series (if I haven’t sold you yet check this out), I started analyzing the podcast itself. Two co-hosts, only a little-bit obnoxious, somewhat funny. Another great aspect of podcast on top of the topic was that we spent the majority, if not 98% of the podcast, talking about the content. Episodes ranging from an hour to almost two hours you’d expect advertisements quite often, but in reality, there were only a few and very short advertisements that weren’t a “stranger’s” voice. It was Mallory’s, the co-host, voice which wasn’t as invasive or annoying. Of course, the podcast has to make money with at least one sponsor, but the messaging was relevant to the podcast, it was calming, and felt like a friend sharing some insight into a product they really like rather than a random advertiser working off of commission!

For example, here is one advertisement: “Binge Mode is brought to you by DirectTV Now. Live stream your favorite channels virtually on any device, plus you can subscribe to HBO and you can start watching Game of Thrones, today.”

Another example, “Alright guys we’re going to take a quick break to hear from one of our sponsors: Blue Apron is the number one fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service in the country….” Jason and Mallory go on to tell us the positive experiences they’ve had and why they love Blue Apron. Again, it seems like a friend is letting you know about these awesome products.

Not only do listeners see value in this form of advertisement, marketers do too. This article from The Atlantic does a great job breaking down the audiences companies hope to attract through podcasts. Podcast listeners are not afraid of trying something new, and they are tech-savvy. Therefore, companies like DirectTV Now, Blue Apron, etc. that are selling services or products ideally purchased or used on the internet or go find an incredibly, targeted audience on podcasts. Then marketers can tailor the ad to the specific topic, as you can see with DirectTV Now with talking directly to GOT fans about subscribing to HBO.

Another consequence of these non-invasive ads, is that users build connections with brands. The Atlantic offers this awesome quote that really drives this point home:

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As you can see, there are plenty of different reasons why companies should consider advertising podcasts, but there are also plenty of reasons users should start using podcasts as a way of entertainment. This continually rising new audio form is taking storm and seems like a win-win for both users and marketers.


*Okay clearly,  I am obsessed.











  1. andrewmanginelli · ·

    I tried listening to podcasts both while on planes traveling abroad and at work this summer. What I found in both scenarios was that I prefer music. In order to properly listen to a podcast, you have to be actively listening (otherwise you’ll miss the vast majority of the jokes/content). I feel like this makes them perfect for a commute, but not for multitasking at work (or trying to sleep on a flight). Where I can mindlessly listen to background music to improve my work day, I’ve struggled to integrate podcasts into that environment.

  2. chloeshepard18 · ·

    Over the summer, I too got very bored listening to music on my commute and at work. My coworkers would always talk about podcasts so I decided to try them out but I never found any that I liked. Many of them had a lot of advertisements that didn’t flow and it just felt like an annoying interruption. I guess I just hadn’t found the right one and I’ll definitely try them out again. Thanks!!

  3. mattwardbc · ·

    This is one of the best blogs I’ve read all semester! Podcasts are awesome because they can cover such a wide variety of topics. I religiously follow the podcast Pardon My Take and find myself waiting for it to release. I think its extremely interesting that Apple has had this feature for a long time( I think very soon after the iPod) and just recently in the last 2 years it has exploded.

  4. alyssacasale4 · ·

    This was a great blog post! You definitely changed my opinion on Podcasts and have made me want to explore all of the different ones on Spotify. I often am bored of listening to the same playlists on Spotify and think that Podcasts are a great way to break up the repetitiveness. It surprises me that users are listening to an average of five shows per week, I didn’t realize how popular podcasts are. With the amount of podcast listeners growing everyday, I wonder if Amazon is going to try to tap into this industry through their Amazon music platform?

  5. Dang this was an amazing post! It’s so funny, because reading this a lot of the stats fit me. I definitely listen to 5+ per week, and find myself constantly refreshing when its around the time a show releases its newest segment. I think it is a combo of having to do some data entry/and the bus commute from Harvard to BC. You links are amazing: the Atlantic article spelled out something I had been wondering about: the cost of ads on podcasts. Interesting to learn they are 2 to 3 times higher than radio! I do wonder if more advertisers will get in on this, because I had never really thought about it but the fact that my favorite co-hosts on Pod Save America (an amazing podcast run by former Obama speechwriters) are reading the ads makes me have a good feeling associated with the products they talk about, because I “know” and trust the podcasters.

  6. Really cool blog post! I was told to listen to podcasts by my sister and eventually gave in and tried it, however, I ran into the same situation you did where you were not entirely interested. Yet, I have still wanted to find a podcast I am really interested-you bring up a really good point regarding listening to the same voice for 30-60 minutes. With the rise in podcasts, it will be interesting to see if podcasts start to become implemented into other streaming services (Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO, etc.).

  7. kaitlinardiff · ·

    Great post, Whit! I had the same exact dilemma this summer where I was wondering how to fill the void of a 35-minute commute while still feeling semi-productive. Under the recommendation from my summer roommate who uses Podcasts to fall asleep at night, I started to listen to them during my commute! I became addicted to “How I Built This” which is an awesome Podcast that interviews founders of entrepreneurial ventures like Airbnb, Whole Foods, Patagonia, etc. to see how they launched their companies. It was great to help my brain wake up and start learning early on in my day, while also merging my love for start-ups/tech! I’ve never seen an episode of GOT purely because the sheer number of episodes seems too daunting at this stage in the show, but maybe Podcasts can help late bandwagoners like me get started!

  8. Yvette Zhou · ·

    Nice post! although I have never listened to podcasts before, you really brought up my interests! I have just claimed that Content will be the key to win users for social media in my blog post this week. I think your point is exactly aligning with mine because podcast is one type of content to attract consumers. So it is no surprised to see there are so many podcast fans in US. And the warmer feelings for ads on podcasts from users shows an inspiring attitude. Maybe the trend of digital business will move to podcasts for they can bring more revenues from ads!

  9. cgoettelman23 · ·

    I loved this post because I literally became addict to a specific podcast two weeks ago…and haven’t stopped listening to it since. I’ve listened to the podcasts you touched on in your post, and none of them stuck until I found “Straight Up with Stassi” and I’m obsessed. I listen to it when I run, when I shower, do my homework, walk to class, etc…. If you see me with my headphones in, I’m listening to it!! I think that the advertisements worked into the podcast flow easily. Yes, it’s obvious they’re advertisements, but she adds her own commentary into the “script” that she is given to make them more relatable and less awkward. It’ll be interesting to see how these type of advertisments become regulated. Overall, this was a great post!!!

  10. Hilary_Gould · ·

    This was great! I definitely wish I had thought of this on my commute this summer. I’m not really a music listener in situations like that because I get bored too quickly, but podcasts would have actually been engaging! I have a couple friends who are distance runners and they listen to them on their long runs or they listen to books on tapes (digitally of course). It’s interesting to have to listen to the same person for extended periods of time, but it is definitely more engaging than just listening to music. I also had no idea that Spotify even had podcasts on it, but I’ll definitely have to check it out!

  11. Great post. I confess that I have not gotten into Podcasts, but only because I’ve been an Audible.com member since around 2001. My commute is where I do most of my pleasure reading, and It’s going to take me at least a year to read all that I have already purchased.

  12. Great post, I love podcasts, there is nothing better than commute while listening to your favorite thing. In my case all of the Motley Fool podcast (mainly finance, trading, and stocks). They give quick info, trustworthy, and great content (sometimes not just finance). Like that, you can find podcasts now from Spotify, iTunes, audible and probably more. For me it’s convenient and a great way to get your news. Is next step listening to a book?

  13. m_thompson19 · ·

    I’ve consistently appreciated your unique insight into the advertising world through your internship experience and love this post. I personally never listen to podcasts, but am now intrigued to do so. The efficiency and effectiveness of advertising on podcasts is super interesting to me because it seems as though podcast listening is a more passive experience than say reading through a newsfeed. I LOVE game of thrones and so appreciate how theres an entire series based to the TV show – so cool.

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