But the number of people who have ever listened to a podcast remains small, according to just-released survey results.
The early-adopter returns from the podcasting front indicate that what has been a male-dominated audience is shifting as more women tune in. Survey findings released Tuesday by Podtrac, which last month launched a podcast-advertising matchmaking service, show that while 78% percent of those who have ever listened to a podcast are male, more than one half (51%) of those who say they've listened to podcasts during the most recent week are women.
The study, commissioned by Podtrac and conducted by custom research house Taylor Nelson Sofres, provides one of the most detailed glimpses yet of the podcasting audience, based on a sample of 1,000 adults surveyed in December. And despite the growing hype around podcasts--downloadable audio recordings that listeners can hear at their convenience via their PCs, iPods, or other MP3-playing devices--the audience remains small.
The survey found that one-third of respondents are familiar with the term "podcasting," and about one-third of those (or one-ninth of the total sample) have ever listened to a podcast. Moreover, about two in five of those (or less than 5% total) had listened to a podcast in the preceding week.
But those numbers are music to the ears of Podtrac CEO and co-founder Mark McCrery, who says the survey findings suggest that podcasting is poised to become a powerful advertising medium sooner rather than later. "To have 10% of Internet users listening to a podcast and finding podcasting content that's meaningful to them in such a short period of time is remarkable," says McCrery, who obviously has motivation to talk up the advertising potential of podcasts. "Podcasting is still in its very early stages, but we're finding that the listenership and viewership in many podcasts is signifciant and targeted and worthy of advertiser interest."
McCrery also says that the gender balance of the podcast audience looks like it will correct itself much quicker than the Internet at large, which attracted a male-dominated audience for several years. Already, he says, females are dominating some podcasts that are emerging as attractive advertising options. Case in point: MuggleCast, a weekly podcast of Harry Potter-related news and analysis that's attracting 300,000 downloads a month with an audience that's three-fourths women under the age of 24. Says McCrery, "That's a great advertising environment."
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