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Those are the initial, top-line findings out from a survey commissioned by Podtrac, a podcasting ad-serving upstart. The survey is part of Podtrac�s effort to begin to get at podcasting�s demographics -- adding a qualitative �who� measurement to the �how many.�
TNS conducted the 1,000-person survey this month and found about three-quarters of those who�ve ever listened to a podcast are male. When it asked about podcasting behavior in the last week, however, it found women are just as likely as men to have listened to one.
'Beginning to make sense'
�We�re beginning to make sense of podcast audiences and provide the data advertisers need ... to make podcasting advertiser ready,� said Mark McCrery, Podtrac's co-founder and CEO. So far there have been varying estimates of podcasting�s audience and market potential and the information on the medium�s demographics has been anecdotal.
But despite the lack of market information, podcasting continues to attract a number of mainstream advertisers, including Volvo, General Mills and Nestle Purina. Podcast aggregator Podnova.com lists 24,000 podcasts, and Forrester Research estimates podcasting will reach 12.3 million households by 2010. In addition to Podtrac, a number of other companies are hoping to connect advertisers to podcasts, including RadioTail, Audible WordCast, Fruitcast and Castfire. Former MTV VJ Adam Curry, credited with inventing podcasting, has launched his own company, Pod Show, with $9 million in venture capital.
Intuitive ad buys
�This is the first step,� said Matt Feinberg, senior VP-radio at Zenith Media. �We�re a year into podcasting and we�d like to get empirical data.� When a podcast has a broadcast component, like NPR does, the broadcast demographic info provides direction, said Mr. Feinberg. For stand-alone podcasts, ad buyers have to rely on a good bit of intuition when deciding where to place the ad dollars.
Still, podcasting is a relatively inexpensive gamble, and few advertisers interested in podcasts have delayed entry based on the lack of demographic info. �It�s not like we� re betting the farm on this,� Mr. Feinberg said.
In addition to the TNS survey Podtrac commissioned, Podtrac conducts its own consumer surveys. Podcasts participating in the Podtrac Audience Insights Survey direct their listeners to a Web-based questionnaire, the results of which are meant to give advertisers a better picture of who is listening to individual podcasts. So far, 22,000 consumers have completed the survey, which is compiled quarterly.
The Podtrac Audience Insights survey suggests the demographics of individual podcasts range widely. For example, the Harry Potter-themed Muggle Cast, which regularly appears in iTunes top 100 podcast rankings, attracts an audience that�s 75% female and younger than 24.
�That�s a very targeted podcast,� Mr. McCrery said.
While the year-old medium isn�t expected to reach the Internet�s almost ubiquitous usage levels, its overall male-female audience split mirrors early Web adoption. In 1994 Georgia Institute of Technology found 95% of Internet users were male but today TNS pegs that number at 48%.
�We expect the female population to adopt [podcasting] far more quickly because it has fewer adoption hurdles than the Web initially presented,� Mr. McCrery said.
Mr. McCrery said Podtrac was already working with some advertisers to set up podcasting media buys and expects to announce some of its clients in January.