Digital Audio

From Classic Rock to Crime Junkie, Audio is Filling our Daily Routines

Dec 2, 2021

A unique study, in partnership with Edison Research and GroupM, on daily audio consumption habits.

Audio is everywhere, reaching 96% of Americans 13 or older on a daily basis (who listen for an average of 4 hours of their day). As the audio landscape expands and grows more and more complex, we wanted to  understand how different types of audio content fit into a person’s daily life—and dive into the roles of each audio platform. Through a partnership with Edison Research and GroupM, here are four key findings we learned in our “Audio Content Day in the Life” study: 

1. Digital Audio content is replacing other forms of linear/traditional media

Gone are the days when AM/FM Radio was the only game in town. Consumers are increasingly choosing digital audio options now, while AM/FM radio’s share has decreased by 22% in the past five years. Now, 64% of all listening time is spent with some form of ad-supported audio, and Americans are replacing traditional forms of AM/FM radio time with more personalized, less cluttered advertising, and premium audio platforms.

Like many old-school obsessions, there has been a resurgence in vinyl records over the past couple of years, but the majority of consumers care less about owning the music they love. As listeners toss out their CD collections and delete their iTunes files, they would now rather “rent” their favorite audio content through an on-demand subscription, or simply enjoy free audio content through ad-supported platforms.

It’s not just other forms of audio that are taking a hit—​​digital audio is replacing time that consumers used to spend with visual media, too. This is particularly true for podcasts, with almost 2 in 3 listeners saying they are replacing time previously spent watching TV with podcasts. It’s not just potential screen fatigue setting in, either—many digital audio listeners are spending less time reading books. Why read up on a topic when you can hear your favorite podcast give you the rundown?  

TO RECAP: Not only are consumers increasingly tuning into digital forms of audio over traditional formats, they’re also mixing up their entire media routines. 

2. Music powers people’s daily soundtrack (still!) 

Although Americans’ audio content consumption has diversified over time (more on that later), the truth is that music still reigns supreme. Over half of audio listeners only listen to music in their daily lives. It’s a constant companion throughout the day, powering people’s routines from morning to night. 

What does vary throughout the day, however, is the device, platform, genre, and location of listening. People’s needs and desires also change, so they seek out various content to fulfill this. We break it all down for you in the chart below. 

TO RECAP: People weave in and out through various touchpoints, platforms, and genres depending on where they are in their day (both in terms of location and need state). 

3. Spoken word consumption changes throughout the day based on mindset

While music is still the most popular type of audio, the audio content people are listening to is diversifying at a fast rate—41% of consumers listen to multiple content types (+11% more than 2016). Non-music audio, such as sports, podcasts, talk/personalities, and audiobooks are making their way into Americans’ daily audio routines. 

Just like music, listeners also consume spoken word audio differently in their daily lives. Check out how music genres and spoken word content vary throughout the day, alongside platforms, devices, locations, and need states.

*Note: table refers to what peaks for each category in comparison to the other dayparts. Callouts are not necessarily ranked #1 in that day part.

TO RECAP: Listeners turn to spoken word audio for different needs—from starting their day with the news & info they need, to unwinding from their day with entertaining content like comedy & true crime. Podcasts and chill, anyone?

4. Audio is prime for multitasking

In today’s ever-connected world,  audio is so accessible that it can always be on, providing listeners surround-sound wherever they are, through whatever they are doing. Audio has the unique ability to break through and take center stage in leaned-in moments, yet also take the backseat and provide the soundtrack to leaned-back moments. From household chores to exercising to shopping online and everything in between, listeners’ daily routines are complete with audio in their ears.

TO RECAP: Listeners’ favorite audio fills their ears throughout their day. Depending on the device they have available, and the task at hand, listeners can find the perfect complement to their activity.  Going for a run? Tee up that workout playlist. Running an errand in the car? Satellite radio has you covered. Pouring a glass of wine after a long day at work? Pairs well with a true crime podcast.

Meet Your Listeners in Every Moment

From morning to night, audio is an essential part of Americans’ daily lives and routines. There is a role for every platform to fulfill listeners’ need states throughout the day as listeners navigate across multiple devices, various content, and platforms—maximizing every moment with your listeners. Marketers have the potential to reach a massive and engaged audience through audio, and by understanding the different nuances of mindsets and motivations, they can more thoughtfully connect with listeners in a way that adds to their experience, not disrupts.

This research helps us better understand the evolving role audio plays with audiences. Understanding how specific need states and motivations influence audio content choices during each day-part allow GroupM’s strategy, planning, and investment teams to have a competitive advantage when guiding clients on how to connect and engage with consumers in more meaningful and memorable ways.

Jen SochExecutive Director, Channel Solutions (DR, Publishing, AdvancedTV, Audio & Local Video) GroupM

Want to learn more about how an ad adapts to listeners’ busy days? Download A Day in the Life of an Audio Ad to see and hear a new perspective on your advertising strategy.

Study Methodology

Phase 1 - Edison Research's Share of Ear (4,000+ interviews updated 2nd Quarter 2021; National sample age 13+; Tracked since 2014; Offered in English and Spanish)

Phase 2 - Audio Day in the Life custom survey (564 online interviews; all respondents participated in Q2 2021 Share of Ear study)

Phase 3 - In-Depth Interviews (16 interviews conducted and recorded over Zoom; All participants completed Share of Ear and Day in the Life studies)

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