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Driven to Action: Podcast Listeners are a $302 Billion Opportunity for the Auto Market

4 minute read | July 2020

No industry has been spared from the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the auto industry has been hit particularly hard. In the U.S., plant closures, combined with global supply chain challenges, have wreaked havoc on production. Additionally, the economic impact of the health crisis will reduce annual sales for 2020 and likely 2021 as well. Despite the murky road ahead, however, recent Nielsen research found that more than 35 million Americans  are online shopping for a new car.

With July underway, all 50 states in the U.S. are at least partially re-opened, and the auto industry is back to work to appeal to those potential buyers. Detroit’s big three automakers re-started their assembly lines in the third week of May—right after auto marketers began ramping up their local TV ads in the last week of April. Importantly, ad units increased almost 6% during the week of April 27. So with production now resumed and new ads hitting the airwaves, who should marketers be engaging with?

Across consumer groups, podcast listeners should be high on any auto marketer’s list. According to a recent analysis conducted through Nielsen’s Podcast Listener Buying Power service, 35.8 million people were shopping online for vehicles at the height of shelter-in-place restrictions in the U.S., and 10.5 million of them were listening to podcasts. Those engaged podcast fans represent a $302 billion opportunity for marketers and advertisers.

While podcast popularity among consumers has been growing for the past few years, its appeal among brands is accelerating, largely because of the ad engagement that the medium commands. A Nielsen study last year, for example, found that top-of-mind brand awareness for many popular brands was nearly 70% among podcast listeners. Plus, podcast listeners tune in for more than 10 hours each week. This  presents marketers with significant opportunities to reach engaged car buyers. Our study this year found that 50% of internet vehicle shoppers visited a website for more information about a product after hearing about it on a podcast, which is five percentage points higher than the average podcast listener.

As auto marketers continue to ease into the world’s new normal, they’ll need to be mindful of the proper sentiment to use when communicating with interested auto shoppers, and they’ll need to know what shoppers are in the market for. Notably, a growing number of podcast listeners are green-minded, and therefore they’re more likely to be in the market for a hybrid vehicle than the average American.

And when it comes to which podcast genres marketers should be most focused on for their advertising, comedy takes the cake, followed closely by news. 

Podcast listeners also present opportunities for auto marketing beyond vehicle sales and leases. Even though many consumers are opting to stay close to home these days, podcast listeners are not do-it-yourselfers when it comes to car upkeep. Compared with the average U.S. consumer, they’re 11% more likely to pay for an oil change, 16% more likely to buy new tires and 16% more likely to get a brake job.

There is no doubt that marketers are facing a wealth of new challenges as we approach the midway point of 2020 and we know the importance of advertising through a crisis as well as the need to reach the right audience on the right platforms. And as the future of auto consumption unfolds, more and more marketers are finding out that podcasts might just be the next great advertising frontier.

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