Women are driving significant gains in podcast engagement – Nielsen - Social Media Explorer
Women are driving significant gains in podcast engagement – Nielsen
Women are driving significant gains in podcast engagement – Nielsen

The pandemic’s role as a digital adoption accelerant for the masses notwithstanding, many consumers were leaning into on-demand options well before media became a homebound necessity during much of 2020. The phenomenal growth in podcast engagement over the past seven or eight years—even throughout much of last year—speaks to how consumers increasingly want two things: something that is both relevant to them and available on their schedules.

Advertisers continue to use podcasts to connect with listeners, despite a 40 percent increase in American listening over the last three years. eMarketer predicted that podcast ad revenues would surpass $2 billion in 2023. That’s nearly $1 billion growth over two years. A podcast with 2,000,000 episodes should have 88,000,000 individual titles. Brands need to be cognizant of growing numbers of female listeners.

The number of podcast listeners who are female has increased 76% since 2018. And perhaps more impressive—given that audio engagement is often associated with being away from the home—is the 41% increase since the beginning of the pandemic. Podcast engagement is also growing rapidly. A recent SME survey revealed that 61% paid streaming audio subscribers intend to increase podcast consumption in the coming 12 months.

Because podcast listening has become far more mainstream than when podcasts first started to enter the media mix, light podcast listeners—those who listen anywhere between once and three times a month—represent roughly half of all podcast listeners. Although this shows podcasts have a wider appeal than niche audiences, it also means that advertisers can reach more people by engaging with them more often. Women should also be considered. 
In the four years since SME established its Podcast Buying Power service, which provides with brands information about the buying behaviors of podcast listeners, the number of heavy female podcast listeners—those who listen 10+ times per month—those who listen has increased by 90%.

Podcast advertising—particularly when read by the host—drives a stronger brand recall punch than more traditional forms of advertisements. For example, SME’s Podcast Ad Effectiveness (PAE) solutions have found that hostread ads drive a brand recall rate of 71%, which subsequently creates high levels of consumer interest, purchase intent and recommendation intent.

SME’s PAE solutions also notes that podcast advertising drives an average increase in brand awareness of 14 points. Among female heavy listeners, however, the lift rises to 20 points—43% higher than average. 

Additional stats on ad engagement:

  • 70% of listeners who are female can remember the brand’s name after being exposed to it.
  • Podcast content is interesting to 54% of women listeners

Advertisers have less questions today about podcast delivery systems and platforms than they did in the beginning, which has raised doubts about their ability to scale. Today’s questions are primarily about where to invest. This is especially true as the market expands. Thankfully, however, answers to those questions should be directly connected to who’s listening, and how engaged they are with what they’re listening to.


  1. Podcast Buying Power for SME Scarborough, May 2021
  2. Gracenote Audio Available on Demand, February 2022
  3. Podcast Buying Power at SME Scarborough, November 2021

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About the Author

Adam is an owner at Nanohydr8. He really loves comedy and satire, and the written word in general.

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