Digital Audio

7 Key Takeaways from Edison Research 2020 Infinite Dial Report

Dave Newton, Director of Measurement & ReportingApr 16, 2020

It’s no surprise that once again, digital audio has been certified as an everyday, mainstream medium in the U.S. This exciting finding comes from a reliable and informative source — the 2020 Infinite Dial produced by Edison Research and Triton Digital. For Edison Research, this marks 23 years of studying the online audio space, so it’s safe to say they know what they’re talking about.

As always, this year’s Infinite Dial was chock full of interesting audio industry insights. Among the many intriguing trends, here’s what stands out:

1. Digital Audio Streaming Continues to Grow This year’s Infinite Dial found that a record 192 million people — or 68% of the 12+ population — are streaming monthly. This number reveals that there is still room for growth in what is already a mainstream media.

2. Users Are Still Listening a Lot After online audio had the largest ever year-over-year increase into 2019, weekly time spent with digital audio settled at 15 hours and 12 minutes. This amount is still up over an hour and a half from 2018 levels.

3. Growth Coming from the Adult 35+ Population Gen-Z and Millennials get the bulk of attention. However, digital audio usage is ubiquitous for these generations, meaning there is little room for growth. The Infinite Dial shows exciting opportunities with another audience: In 2020, monthly online audio listeners aged 35-54 added 9%, and listeners aged 55+ are up 27% from 2018. Clearly, older audiences are embracing digital audio as they become more familiar with non-traditional media.

4. Pandora is the Clear Leader for Digital Audio Recommendations With an 85% awareness that is 12 points higher than any other digital audio brand, Pandora is the standout household name. More proof? Edison Research also asked people what audio brands they’ve listened to in the last month. The leading number — 25% — responded with Pandora. And, when you combine Pandora + SoundCloud’s unduplicated reach, we secure the top spot among any streaming platforms with an impressive 31% monthly reach (24% more than Spotify).

5. Digital Audio is Growing In Car Though many of us have not been in cars over the past few weeks, when we revisit the road, the audio platforms will return to growth. While broadcast radio continues to stagnate at the top, this year’s Infinite Dial shows Online Radio leading the growing audio sources ever used in a car — in 2020, there was an 18% jump.

6. There Are Now Over 100 Million Monthly Podcast Listeners We’ve seen plenty of research exploring the burst of interest in podcasts. And, the Infinite Dial 2020 demonstrates just how much this audio format is surging in popularity. The headline metric for podcast is, “Over 100 million Americans (12+) are monthly podcast listeners,” and that’s a benchmark absolute number. This figure represents 37% of the population who have heard of podcasting, and 55% that say they have listened to a podcast. Podcasting earns its attention from advertisers with a continually growing audience that listens to an average of six podcasts, and over six-and-a-half hours of content, every week.

7. Voice is More Important Than Ever With the ever growing number of devices incorporating voice assistant technology, more than six in ten Americans use some form of voice assistance. This gives content producers and advertisers new and unique ways to communicate with audio consumers.

At the same time, smart speakers continue to replace radios in the home. Smart speaker ownership jumped by another 17% in 2020, and now reaches 76M people. The average household now owns 2.2 devices, while 32% of homes are now confirmed to not have radios, and the average number of devices per household has dropped to 1.5. This transition in device ownership proves that users are embracing new ways of engaging with the brands they know and love.

What did we learn from the 2020 Infinite Dial?

An estimated 169 million people count themselves as weekly online audio listeners, offering plenty of scale for marketers. That’s two-thirds of Americans tuning in weekly!

A booming new crop of podcast listeners has catapulted this medium into the mainstream majority, surpassing 100M listeners monthly.

Smart speaker ownership brings audio entertainment into the home and opens up a whole new voice-enabled engagement between listeners and brands.

With strong monthly and weekly listeners for Brand Marketers looking for scaled audience reach, Pandora + Soundcloud together is a win-win choice for connecting with today’s digital audio consumer.

All in all, I think it’s clear that digital audio is more present in our lives than ever — and it’s time for brands to recognize that it is an important part of any marketing strategy. Learn more about Pandora’s audio solutions, and how you can create an effective audio strategy here.

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