Real Living 2021: Understanding Listeners

Posted on Monday 06 September 2021 | IAB UK

The latest findings from our Real Living study take a deep dive into the online audio market, looking at listener behaviour and key opportunities for advertisers

Online audio is a booming market that is seeing advertiser investment surge, but how can advertisers ensure that they are resonating with listeners? The latest findings from our Real Living 2021 research - released as part of Audio Week - delve into listener behaviour, preferences and key considerations for brands. 

Working with Sparkler, part of PA Consulting, we’ve surveyed 1,000 nationally representative UK adults and 250 heavy consumers of online audio about their digital listening habits. The results show that audiences have grown since the start of the pandemic, indicating that online audio was well-positioned to adapt to national lockdowns. Key findings include: 

  • Online audio is the ultimate accompaniment to everyday life: While people develop their own listening schedules - mixing podcasts with online radio and streaming depending on what they’re doing - overall online audio listening rates are very consistent throughout the day. There is only really a substantial dip between midnight and 6am, meaning that advertisers have an 18-hour window, 7 days a week, to engage digital audio listeners.
  • Don’t underestimate mood states & context: What people chose to listen to is strongly linked to their mood and advertisers need to ensure that they are considering mood states when targeting people with ads. We found that 50% of people wish brands could understand their mood so that they can integrate better with their chosen audio content, while 46% say that when an ad matched their mood it feels more personal  - which could enhance memorability. 
  • Ads need to work hard, but rewards are high:  The ad acceptance rate for premium digital audio environments is below the average for other online channels. This means that online audio ads need to work particularly hard to deliver value and be accepted, but there does stand to be high rewards. Ads that resonate in this space stand to see high rewards, but they need to understand and work with the online audio experience, rather than simply repurposing radio ads and hoping they will work. 

Find out more about Real Living here



You must be a member of the IAB UK to view this content. If you are not a member you can find out more here.

Written by



Related content

IAB UK responds to Government consultation on draft HFSS secondary legislation

Learn more
Woman listening to headphones

What audio ad opportunities are there in gaming?

Learn more
Podcast host

IAB UK partners with The Podcast Show to celebrate the growing opportunities in podcasts

Learn more
James Chandler

Advertisers, ignore geriatric gamers and it's game over

Learn more

Rediscover the joy of digital advertising

Champion connections instead of clicks. Capture audiences' imaginations, not just their attention. Boldly move to your own beat instead of letting tech set the pace. It’s time to rediscover the joy of digital.