Podcasts Boost Productivity, For Both Listeners and Brand Campaigns

Aug 3, 2021

Feeling unmotivated? Plug in a podcast. That’s right, listening to podcasts can help improve productivity and help listeners be multitasking pros. Who wouldn’t like to boost their output, all while being entertained and informed?

At first glance, it might seem like podcasts are distracting, rather than motivating, right? But research shows podcasts actually help users do more and learn. According to our 2021 SXM Media User Soundboard study, 1 nearly one in five users said podcasts motivate them. 

The Connection Between Podcasts and Productivity

To understand the link between the two, we have to dig into users’ behavior. That starts with where people are listening. Coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are trying to figure out how to adjust to old (or new) routines—commutes, school, home life, all of it.

When Americans are tired (let’s be real, exhausted), audio offers them some relief. By popping in earbuds and streaming a podcast, people forget about the chaos, and zone in on topics of interest. Daily podcast listening at work has jumped 200%, and 41% of adults are spending more time listening to podcasts than they were in their pre-pandemic lives (we did a little study on work and productivity).

Leaned-in Listening Leads to Higher Ad Recall

You might still be asking, “But why podcasts? Why doesn’t music have the same effect?” The thing about podcasts is that the more you listen, the more you discover. They’re pretty rewarding, seeing that the number one reason people listen to podcasts is to learn new things. 2

The idea behind it is this: When you’re actively listening to something interesting or exciting, it activates your brain. Researchers call it the “leaned-in mind.” And the combination of a good podcast plus an engaged listener supercharges this concept.

Unlike streaming music or even a sports broadcast, podcasts aren’t background noise. They’re highly personalized audio journeys. It’s no surprise then that ad recall on podcasts is four times higher than other ad formats, according to Nielsen. Listeners love their favorite host, the stories, and the information that comes from it.

Podcasts Help Make the Boring More Bearable

Hate housework? Probably. How about housework while your mind is focused on a topic you care about? Much better. Podcasts can turn a mundane chore or activity into something enjoyable—yes, really. 76% of our listeners tune in to podcasts while doing chores. 3 Just imagine the advertising opportunities there! (More on that later.)

Now, if podcasts boosting productivity wasn’t enough, let’s not forget that there are also podcasts about productivity. (We can’t say whether or not that leads to a double increase in motivation, but, hey, it’s interesting to think about). Our platforms offer a bunch to explore, like Rethink, where host Simon Hedaux offers tips for a more successful business. On Love Your Work, best-selling author David Kadvay talks to experts about how to break through in your personal and professional life. For a lighter take, tune into Stitcher’s No Stupid Questions for answers on how to multitask like a pro.

Brands Can Align With the Productive Mindset

When listeners get hooked on a podcast, they build bonds with hosts and come back for more. That trust is good for listeners, content creators, and brands. Let’s talk about the brand side of things.

Consider the fact that one-quarter of all Americans have listened to a podcast in the last week, 4 and that these listeners are receptive to ads. That’s a lot of engaged listeners. In fact, 86% of Stitcher/Midroll listeners said they’ve taken action after hearing a podcast ad.

Even multitaskers are listening to ads! We found that 37% of consumers who stream ad-supported audio, while working, paid more attention to streaming audio than when they’re not working.

Advertisers should lean into the idea of productivity. What can you offer that makes your listeners' lives better or easier? What can you teach your audience? That’s what listeners want.

And really, who wouldn’t want to work smarter, faster, and get better results?


  1. Pandora Soundboard User Study, A18+ (n=4,285), March 2021.
  2. Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2019.
  3. Pandora Soundboard User Study A18+ (n=2,753 Podcast Listeners ), March 2021.
  4. Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2021.
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