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How the Vox Media Podcast Network is engaging with audiences

Insights from Vox Media’s SVP of Insights and Innovation, Edwin Wong on the growing network

Alyssa Ringler

For the smart marketers investing in the podcast space, you must evaluate the premium nature of content and the connection to the user – and find partners who are capable of giving you audio scale across audiences.

No one in the space is better equipped to achieve engagement and action for brands than the Vox Media Podcast Network. As revealed at The Lineup, a night of exciting news and announcements, we’re one of the fastest-growing podcast networks in the world with over 200 active shows – and we continue to see our audience consumption grow by more than 100% year-over-year.

What’s responsible for this success? Our ability to expand upon on-going shows, launch new ones, and build narrative franchises that audiences love. And we will continue to launch new shows with original formats, as seen with the launch of Ezra Klein’s new show ‘Impeachment, Explained.’ live this Saturday, October 19, and on every following Saturday.

Alyssa Ringler

How our audiences are engaging

Earlier this year, we surveyed our listeners and heard from more than 12,000 people.

We asked them some of the basics: who they are, how they found us and more. We also asked them questions about their relationship to us, such as, how many times a week they were listening.

We found engagement with our shows is higher than ever. 70% listened 2-3 times per week or more. And in just 6 months, that number has grown to 89%, per our most recent survey in October 2019.

Our research also provided a glimpse into how our audiences are listening to our podcasts. For instance, 49% listen to podcasts in their car at least 3x a week.

When we asked them open-ended questions, listeners weren’t shy to describe our podcasts as “the best thing that’s ever happened [to them]”and how they see our podcast hosts as role models.

Who our audience is

For marketers looking to target the influencers, the strivers, the high income and those who want to drive change in society, here’s a glimpse at our audience:

  • 86% are college graduates
  • 70% are in the 25-44 age group
  • 45% make $100K+ and one in five listeners make $200K+
  • Lastly, 23% have or are about to go through a life change in the next 6-months (like having a baby or moving)

The demographics would suggest a very attractive audience for any advertiser.

To further contextualize who they are, some would say podcasts are for city slickers, as nearly half live in the suburbs or rural areas. But our listeners are world travelers, with two out of three planning to travel the world multiple times in the next year, and nearly two-thirds being sophisticated spirit drinkers. Which raises the thought: are they pairing their favorite podcast with whiskey night?

How our audience activates

This is also not an audience that is fleeting. We’ve seen our audience grow with us, with 56% starting to listen over two years ago.

Our audience sticks around.

Most importantly to marketers, we offer the opportunity to reach audiences who activate around what we are saying on our podcasts, including recommending them to their own networks. In fact, 96% have done something because of podcasts.

Here’s how our audience’s are activating:

  • 82% have looked for info based on what they’ve heard on podcasts
  • 82% have recommended a podcast
  • 72% visited website/page mentioned on a show
  • 33% bought something (e.g. product, movie ticket) recommended on air
  • 27% used a promo code
  • 21% have recommended a product/service
  • 13% have visited a place/event (e.g. concert, restaurant)

It’s obvious our audiences trust our podcast voices, so it makes sense that we are also seeing our audiences activate directly with the brands who advertise on our podcasts. 84% of our listeners find companies who support Vox Media more favorable, making our shows transitive property to marketers.

We also see our podcasts translate to local activation, with one in five listeners attending a live event heard on a show.

Early payoff for brands

The initial results for brands that work with us have been incredible.

Dropbox leveraged Vox Media’s authority and credibility by working with our network to bring a fresh take to branded podcasts with “Flow Thinking,” a four-episode series within The Ezra Klein Show . Instead of traditional ad reads throughout the episodes, unique branded segments created by Vox Media in collaboration with Dropbox are featured in each episode, like a mini-interview with a neuroscientist dissecting the psychological state of flow that fit seamlessly into the larger podcast episode.

The brand saw incredible performance from the campaign with a 17 point increase in brand favorability, a 14 point increase in purchase intent and a 21 point lift in brand awareness of Dropbox as a thought leader for work (Kantar Millward Brown, 2019).

So marketers, take note: those first to market with new ad formats see dividends as early innovators.

The strength of this medium is not the format, but the expression. Podcasts are expressions of our deepest passions. They reveal our desire as humans to grow, and come as a badge of honor of how we want our friends and families to perceive us.

As a media format with uninterrupted access to consumers, how can marketers not be excited to invest more in the space?