Harnessing the Power of Podcasting

A SeeHer Series

Lizzie Widhelm, SVP, B2B  Marketing and Ad Innovation at SXM Media, Advertising Hall of Achievement inductee and Pandora’s first salesperson, dives into new research highlighting the rise of female podcast listeners, the opportunities for advertisers to reach this audience, and how the SiriusXM Podcast Network (the No. 1 podcast network with women over 18) is helping level the playing field for women behind and in front of the mic. 

When I was coming up, in the early days of Pandora and the streaming audio industry, personal and professional development came in the form of buying a book, paying for a class, or enrolling in secondary education. Today, we have podcasts, and women are flocking to them.

Podcasts have revolutionized the way we engage with content that shapes and enhances our personal and professional lives. Women respond more to experts on a podcast versus TV because the audio format is so much more descriptive, with more depth. Podcasts are also more casual, more relatable, than their video counterparts.

And the number of women listening to podcasts is growing. We just produced a deep dive into the rise of female podcast listeners in partnership with Edison Research. Our research revealed that 35 percent of U.S. women over 18 have listened to a podcast in the past month, up 67 percent over the last five years, representing an estimated 47 million women. While women are starting to close the gender listening gap, there is still room for more representation. Among monthly listeners, 57 percent of multicultural women (and 67 percent of all women ages 18 to 24) wish that there were more podcasts that focus on women of color.

Women listen to podcasts at home, on the go, in the car, and via mobile devices. They also engage with podcasts way beyond just listening. They may never meet the podcasters they are listening to, but they will take something from that conversation that will give them context to build a plan. And 73 percent of female listeners discover new podcasts from friends and family, recommending shows for deep, emotional reasons — oftentimes to create a deeper connection with someone.

We joined SeeHer to turbocharge our efforts in diversity and inclusion and to get more women listening to podcasts, and more women behind the mic, to help eliminate gender bias in audio and advertising. Tapping into that, whether it’s happening experientially or via written formats, through a partnership where we establish our own event, or through creating our own cogent piece, is essential if we are to succeed in creating a better environment for podcast listeners, creators, and advertisers.

Women in the critical stages of balancing the personal and the professional still can’t see her because society remains so male-dominant. But they can see her through the powerful lens of podcasting, which is growing more diverse. For women present and future, podcasting can truly be the voice of change.

New SeeHer member SXM Media is the advertising powerhouse behind Sirius XM Holdings Inc., spanning SiriusXM, Pandora, and the expansive SiriusXM Podcast Network, including exclusive premium content publishers across streaming and podcasts.  Under the leadership of Senior Vice President, B2B Marketing and Ad Innovation Lizzie Widhelm, SXM Media reaches a national audience of 150 million monthly listeners. Of note, five of the top 25 shows among women are SXM Media podcasts, with Crime Junkie at No. 1.


About SeeHer

SeeHer is a global coalition of committed marketers, media leaders, agencies and industry influencers united in the mission to increase the accurate portrayal of women and girls in marketing, advertising, media, and entertainment, so they see themselves as they truly are and in all their potential. Led by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), in partnership with The Female Quotient (The FQ), SeeHer has become the industry’s leading global voice for gender equality in advertising and media. To help benchmark success, in 2016 SeeHer developed the Gender Equality Measure (GEM®), the first research methodology that quantifies gender bias in ads and programming. GEM® has become the global measurement standard, measuring 200,000+ ads, representing 87 percent of worldwide ad spend. SeeHer also developed #WriteHerRight Guides to encourage content creators to address potential blind spots and unconscious biases and integrate more authentic and nuanced depictions of women into their work. To address the specific inequities in the sports and music industries, SeeHer launched two verticals: SeeHer in Sports and SeeHer Hear Her. Gender equality and intersectionality in advertising and media is an imperative. It is good for business and good for society.


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