Audio advertising for older audiences

Your parents listen to podcasts

When you say ‘podcasts,’ you might think of millennials. We even spoke earlier about audio advertising’s power to reach younger people in a booming landscape. But what about everyone else? Can audio ads go beyond mass appeal and speak to niche audiences?


Truth is, digital audio is becoming so widespread that even smaller percentages of total listenership represent big opportunities for brands of all sizes. The way audio gets consumed also gives your ads a better chance to capture attention. Let’s learn more…

Age is only a number, and so are listener stats

First off, if we’re talking about older audiences, we need to define what ‘old’ means. Your average millennial is now pushing 30, the oldest are past 40. Time marches on, the earliest adopters of podcasts have gone from nightclubbing and festivals to gardening and wine tasting. You might already be advertising to that older niche without even realising.

The numbers certainly back up this idea. Ofcom’s 2021 podcast survey suggests that 49% of Brits aged 45-54 and 47% of those aged 55-64 listen to at least one podcast each week. Population data from Statista tells us that this translates to about 6,952,394 people. A huge audience which could be going largely unserved as advertisers clamour for the young money.

It’s not only that older audiences listen to podcasts regularly; they also tend to consume more than younger demographics. That same Ofcom data shows people aged 45-54 listen to as many as seven episodes every week (7.16 to be exact), the most out of any group. Those aged 35-44 listen to almost as many (6.79 episodes). Whippersnappers aged 25-34 ‘only’ manage 6.19.

Finally, the evidence might suggest that older audiences stay loyal. The largest group who say they ditched podcasts for other media are actually those aged 16-24.

A looming boomer boom for UK podcasts

This is all very encouraging, but is it going to scale? Yes, according to The Infinite Dial 2021 report from Edison Research. This survey of listeners in the US observed that the number of Americans aged 55+ who listen to podcasts went from four million in 2011 to 24 million in 2021.

This happened for a variety of reasons:

  • Devices capable of playing podcasts became more widespread
  • A surge in podcasters provided more content to appeal to wider demographics
  • Listeners aged into the upper brackets over the course of the past 10 years

As we’ve observed in other blogs, the UK audio landscape in general is a few years behind that of the US. Our listening culture is no different. We can keep an eye on trends across the Atlantic and use them to predict what’s going to happen here. Even though the UK population is about 20% of America’s, the same kind of proportional increase still means a huge influx of new old listeners.

Helpfully, Edison also produces a UK version of the Infinite Dial report. We can use some of the data in there to support the idea that the UK is catching up to the States in podcast penetration:

  • 24% of Brits aged 55+ listen to a podcast at least weekly, compared to 29% of the overall US population
  • 34% of our over-55s listen in the car using their phones, vs 49% of the whole US
  • 21% of our over-55s own a smart speaker, compared to 33% of the whole US population

So even if we take our one specific demographic and compare it to the entire USA, the difference still isn’t that enormous. There’s room for growth, but that growth is a pretty safe bet.

Audio advertising gets you heard

If you’re thinking about audio advertising for older listeners, the numbers certainly suggest you’re onto a winner. But it’s not only the stats that speak volumes; the way in which digital audio gets consumed makes it ideal for capturing a niche audience.

The average podcast lasts up to 40 minutes, many run for an hour or more. The average commute to and from work in the UK is 59 minutes. Very rarely will a podcast episode line up perfectly with travel; listeners will end up finishing most episodes on another device or in another setting.

One episode might cover a car journey using the onboard audio system, a short walk using a phone, and home listening via smart speakers. All, for the most part, screenless. That lack of visual and tactile interaction might account for the fact that listeners generally listen to about 90% of each episode and don’t skip adverts as much as they do with other media.

For advertisers, this all translates to a wealth of opportunity. You have enough raw traffic to make any demographic worth targeting. If you work with the right people, you also have the technology to make that targeting as effective as possible, even without cookies. We use mobile network data, for example.

In short: be optimistic! Say you want to target men aged 40+ with ideas for Father’s Day gifts, or offer holiday options to retired ladies who lunch. You can do all that at scale by using audio to support your programmatic campaign.

Talk to us about programmatic audio