Digital Audio

5 Reasons Brands Shouldn’t Sleep on Co-Listening

Oct 13, 2022

We refreshed our landmark co-listening study with Carat and Edison Research—and the results are even better for brands! Let’s get into the five key learnings for marketers in the audio space.

Whether you listen to SiriusXM with your family in the car, throw on Pandora when you’re hosting a backyard BBQ with friends, or choose the perfect comedy podcast to listen to while you prep dinner with your partner, chances are you regularly share audio experiences with others. For brands, that means ads reach—and influence—more listeners. It’s the co-listening factor, which is significantly undercounted in the face value of digital audio.

Thanks to the landmark study we conducted with Carat and Edison Research back in 2018, we already know co-listening is a common activity, one that media plans and campaign reports are unable to capture. But is it just us, or does 2018 already feel like a few lifetimes ago? We thought it was time to update that data for Pandora to see where things stood. And this time, we threw podcasts into the mix to uncover first-to-market data on co-listening for this ever-growing medium.

For this year’s study, we brought our A-team of Edison Research and Carat back together to revisit and refresh the topic. Leveraging the same national online diary study methodology, we increased our sample size to 1,850 Americans ages 13 and older to allow us to dive into both Pandora and podcast listeners.

Let’s get into the five key learnings—and reasons brands shouldn’t sleep on co-listening—from the new study to contextualize just how important co-listening is for marketers in the audio space.

1. Pandora’s Co-Listening Factor is Bigger than Ever

Our 2018 study showed us that listeners often have shared audio experiences with Pandora, but, with so many changes in the past few years, we had no idea if or how co-listening has shifted.

We found that just under 4 in 10 Pandora listeners reported any co-listening in their diary day, which is quite consistent with our original study. Looking at who is most likely to co-listen, women, Hispanic Americans, adults 35-54, and parents are more likely to listen with others–almost 6 in 10 parents 25-54 co-listen to Pandora!

Where we did see an incredible shift was in Pandora’s co-listening factor, which factors in how many people are listening at a given time. This new study found that for every 100 paid advertising impressions purchased on Pandora, advertisers receive 52 additional impressions from co-listening. This represents an impressive 15-point increase from 2018.

+52% co-listening impressions with Pandora

2. Podcast Co-Listening is Emerging, and May Surprise You

Compared to 2018, podcasts now account for a much greater (and still growing) share of both consumers’ media time and brands’ advertising budgets. Podcasts are traditionally thought of as a solitary activity and there isn’t much data available on what co-listening frequency and behaviors look like there, so we knew that adding them to the study would be valuable data for the marketplace.

We learned that 12% of podcast listeners reported any co-listening during their diary day, and while this is unsurprisingly lower than Pandora co-listening, it’s likely a higher number than most would expect. Women, Hispanic Americans, and parents are more likely to co-listen here as well–1 in 5 parents 25-54 who listen to podcasts do so with others.

When factoring in how many people are listening at a given time, we are now able to share the first-ever co-listening factor for podcasts. We found that for every 100 paid advertising impressions purchased on podcasts, advertisers receive 5 additional impressions from co-listening, which is not trivial.

Co-listening ads +5% impression to podcasts

3. The Car Now Leads for Co-Listening, but the Home is Still Key

While the home was the top location for Pandora co-listening in our original study, this year’s results show the car moving into the #1 position. Just under half of those who listened to Pandora in the car on their diary day were listening with others, up +4 points from 2018. Not only does the car lead for streaming audio co-listening, it came in the #1 position for podcasts as well—16% of those who listened to podcasts in the car on their diary day were listening with others.

Despite the car’s lead in co-listening, the home is still crucial for shared audio experiences. Four in 10 Pandora listeners and 13% of podcast listeners who listened in the home during their diary day were doing so with others. The home is really the cornerstone of our daily lives, and audio is a constant companion that can be our soundtrack, whether we’re listening alone or with others, but more on that later.

Apart from location, we also dug into shared listening by device types. For Pandora, connected devices like smart speakers, connected TVs, and game consoles continue to lead in co-listening–almost half of those who listened to Pandora on connected devices were doing so with others. We did see an interesting shift in mobile; while smartphones are a great device for solo use, they also power shared listening experiences. In fact, over 4 in 10 who listened to Pandora on mobile were listening with others, up by +11 points from 2018. For podcasts, mobile devices came out on top for co-listening.

4. Co-Listening Powers Both Everyday Moments and Special Occasions

Audio content is the perfect companion to our everyday routines, whether we’re listening alone or with others. Given its flexibility and accessibility, digital audio is ripe for multi-tasking moments.

Co-listening with Pandora and Podcasts

In addition to powering these everyday moments, co-listening enhances special occasions. Over 3 in 4 Pandora listeners say they co-listen to audio during holidays, over 7 in 10 co-listen during road trips, and over half co-listen during outdoor or indoor social gatherings. These are memorable moments for listeners, and audio is a key element that enriches those memories.

5. Co-Listening Is a Positive Space for Listeners and Brands Alike

It’s clear from the factors shown above that co-listening is valuable for brands in extending reach–but there is so much more to the story than simply hitting additional ears. Beyond the numbers, the mindsets and moods of listeners during these shared audio moments is important to keep in mind. While listening with others, people feel a host of positive emotions, with relaxed, happy, entertained, productive, and carefree topping the list. We have long known that audio is a great mood-booster for listeners, and that’s great news for brands in this space, as listeners are more receptive to advertising when they are in positive moods.

In addition to mood-boosting, people listen to audio with others for a variety of reasons, whether that’s to set a specific vibe, to spend quality time together, or to share content they love with their loved ones. The excitement of sharing music and podcasts you love with others transcends all genres. On the Pandora side, top co-listening genres are pop, alternative, classic rock, hip hop, and R&B. For podcasts, the top genres for co-listening are comedy, news and information, true crime, history, and science. Podcasts aren’t just a great source of knowledge and learning, they’re also a growing form of pure entertainment, where friends, partners, and families alike can turn for shared laughs.

Offering unique opportunities both in quantity—incremental reach, anyone?—and in quality—cherished moments and positive mindsets—co-listening should be music to every brand’s ears!

At Carat we pride ourselves on Designing for People, by knowing them and connecting them to brands better than anyone else. Being able to measure co-listening patterns and observed behaviors with SXM illuminates the added value of investing in audio. This new understanding will enable us to create even more effective media plans for our clients and inform more meaningful ways for them to connect with audiences through audio."– Diana Bojaj, Chief Media Officer, Carat US

Ready to reach more listeners? Let's talk.

    Meet the largest ad-supported audience in audio.Advertise with us

    Stay ahead of industry trends

    © SiriusXM Media. All Rights Reserved.