First survey of Serial's listeners sheds light on the Serial Effect

New survey conducted by ad agency McKinney shares how Serial newsletter subscribers listened to the world's most popular podcast

Jun 25, 2015, 03:33 ET from McKinney

CANNES, France, June 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Serial and creative ad agency McKinney shared the results of the first survey of Serial's newsletter subscribers. The results shed light on how subscribers listened to the world's most popular podcast and how their behavior differed from general podcast listeners.

The survey takeaways for marketers will be revealed on Friday, June 26, during the Festival panel, "Binge-Worthy Journalism: A Conversation with the Creators of Serial," moderated by McKinney Chief Creative Officer Jonathan Cude and featuring Serial Executive Producer Julie Snyder, Host Sarah Koenig and Producer Dana Chivvis.  

The survey was sent to Serial's 137,000 newsletter subscribers and is based on a statistically representative sample of 6,300 responses.  

"We've been humbled and amazed by the passionate response to Serial since last fall — and we were blown away by the immediate response to the survey, even on a Friday night," said Julie Snyder, co-creator and executive producer of Serial. "In just 90 minutes, more than 5,600 people completed the survey, which is basically one completed survey for every second the survey was available."

Serial changed the way people think about podcasts and how much they listen

Almost a quarter (23%) of subscribers said Serial was the first podcast they'd ever listened to, and almost all of those first-time listeners (90%) said it changed the way they think about podcasts. After Serial, almost all (89%) of the first-time listeners were inspired to try more podcasts, and approximately half (49%) are now listening to podcasts on a weekly basis.

Serial is a new kind of podcast, with more passionate and engaged listeners

Eighty-seven percent of Serial subscribers agreed with the statement, "Serial stand outs as a completely different kind of podcast." Generally, just over half (57%) of podcast listeners said that they always give their full attention to their favorite podcasts, but almost all (93%) of Serial subscribers said they always gave their full attention to Serial.

Almost all (93%) Serial subscribers talked about the podcast with friends and family, while only 44% of general listeners reported talking about their favorite podcast. While 29% of general podcast listeners looked online for more information about their favorite podcast, 78% of subscribers went online to look for more details about Serial.

"Outside of sports and one-time specials like the Academy Awards, there aren't many culturally relevant, sought-after opportunities that attract a loyal and fully engaged audience at scale," said Cude. "Serial, which became the proverbial water cooler topic, is a dream environment for brands and agencies like McKinney looking to influence through creativity."

Serial's addiction pays off for sponsors

Seventy-nine percent of Serial subscribers stated that they found Serial to be "very addictive." Almost all (99%) of Serial subscribers listened to all 12 episodes, and more than half (55%) listened to at least one episode more than once.

Of Serial subscribers who listened during the podcast's release October through December 2014, 81% correctly recalled a Season One sponsor. Of that 81%, a full 92% recalled that one of the sponsors was MailChimp. Further, 95% of listeners correctly identified MailChimp as an email marketing service.

"We all want our advertising to break through and have a lasting impact," said Cude. "The recall associated with ads that surrounded Serial content is a testament to the value of appointment listening and a minimally cluttered environment. A select group of savvy marketers took advantage of that opportunity with Season One, and it's a safe bet that more will surely look to do so with future seasons."

ABOUT THE SURVEY METHODOLOGY
For the purposes of this report, McKinney fielded one online survey to explore the differences in attitudes and behaviors toward podcasts among Serial newsletter subscribers versus general podcast listeners in the United States. McKinney was responsible for the survey design, data analysis and reporting. The survey was conducted in June 2015 among a sample 6,300 Serial newsletter subscribers aged 18+ living in the United States, as well as 500 U.S. adults 18+ with access to the Internet who listen to podcasts. The general podcast listener sample was procured through ResearchNow and was balanced to the U.S. adult podcast listener population on key demographics of age, gender, household income and region.    

ABOUT MCKINNEY
Founded in 1969, McKinney's mission is to help our clients by creating big ideas that grab people emotionally and change the way they think, feel and behave. McKinney is recognized for having one of the most innovative business models in the industry, focusing on delivering influence through creativity. The agency has been honored by the industry's most prestigious award shows, including the Cannes Lions, the Effies, the One Show and the One Show Interactive, and the IAB MIXX Awards (including two Best in Show). Named an Agency to Watch and one of the Best Places to Work in Marketing & Media by Advertising Age, McKinney is also one of One Magazine's agencies setting the standard for creativity. The agency's clients include Samsung, Nationwide, Nationwide Financial, ESPN, Travelocity, Sherwin-Williams, CarMax, Crocs, Sennheiser, Mentos, Big Boss Brewing, Dognition and Urban Ministries of Durham. McKinney is part of Cheil Worldwide, one of the world's leading marketing communications networks with 44 offices in 37 countries. One agency with two doors, McKinney has offices in Durham, North Carolina, and in New York. To learn more, visit mckinney.com and follow @mckinney.

ABOUT SERIAL
Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial tells one story — a true story — in episodes that unfold week by week over the course of a season. Each season, Serial's host and producers will follow a new plot and characters wherever the story takes them. And they won't know what happens at the end of the story until they get there, not long before listeners get there with them. Each week they'll bring listeners the next chapter in the story, so it's important to listen to episodes from each season in order, starting with Episode 1. Listeners can subscribe to the Serial podcast for free on iTunes and other audio platforms, or stream the show at serialpodcast.org. For help understanding how podcasts work and how to listen to one, watch this tutorial. Season One of Serial has wrapped, but all of the episodes are still available for free. Stay tuned for Season Two later in 2015. Serial, like This American Life, is a production of WBEZ Chicago, which also produces these podcasts. **Please Note: Serial and This American Life are not NPR shows**

Media Contacts
Janet Northen 
McKinney 
919.313.4062 
janet.northen@mckinney.com 
@jnorthen

Rachel Hammerman 
Serial 
314.322.5478 
rachel@hammermanpr.com 
@rhammerman

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