NPR Finds New Audiences Through Spotify and Amazon Partnerships

Podcasts and smart speakers have been good for National Public Radio

Gina Garrubbo at Brandweek
National Public Media's Gina Garrubbo was one of Brandweek 2019's keynote speakers. Sean T. Smith for Adweek
Headshot of Ryan Barwick

PALM SPRINGS, Calif.—”Alexa, play Morning Edition.” While maybe a bit jarring to hear one of National Public Radio’s staple shows alongside a disruptive tech company like Amazon, the partnership is evident of NPR’s strategy to find new audiences through other companies, which also include Google and Spotify.

“Legacy platforms like radio are stronger than ever because apps, streaming and voice activation have made them more personal,” said Gina Garrubbo, president and CEO of National Public Media, the sponsorship subsidiary of NPR.

In her keynote speech at Adweek’s 2019 Brandweek summit, Garrubbo addressed how NPR is finding success in the age of streaming.

According to a survey by Edison Research, 51% of podcasts listeners are more likely to consider brands that advertise on podcasts. That’s why NPR has made its content available across iOS and Android’s podcasting platforms, as well as Spotify and the Amazon Alexa smart speaker.

These partnerships are also getting NPR access to a younger demographic. According another Edison Research survey, 49% of podcast listeners are between the ages of 12-34, 53% have a college degree or higher, and 41% have an annual household income of $75,000.

“Before podcasts, the majority of NPR sponsors were Fortune 500 companies, finance and tech companies,” Garrubbo said. Now, NPR sees more opportunity from direct-to-consumer brands like Squarespace and Mailchimp.

Of course, NPR does have specific requirements for its sponsorships in order to maintain a consistent tone and voice across all platforms. Consumers won’t be hearing brand endorsements, either.

While Garrubbo did not address how much these new platforms have diversified or increased revenue, she said revenue was growing and that NPR is “absolutely seeing the benefit.”

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@RyanBarwick Ryan is a brand reporter covering travel, mobility and sports marketing.