Let’s Talk About Podcasts: Data, ROI, and More

Podcast Advertising

Why are podcasts relevant to my media strategy?

It’s past time our blog covered a media channel that’s been growing in popularity by leaps and bounds: podcasts. Podcast ads are a different breed of audio placement, but they have potential to drive high value exposure for desirable audiences. As someone who just got into the podcast craze (yes, I know I’m late to the game), it continually amazing me how effective the host-read advertising is for any given podcast’s sponsors. If my favorite podcasts are partnering with a specific product or service – especially if it’s relevant to the subject they cover – I pay attention.

Let’s explore some of the data associated with podcast advertising to get a better idea of its potential, beginning with a little straw poll from our agency itself:

 

Internal podcast survey results:

Do you listen to podcasts? Yes (69%) No (31%)

How frequently do you listen to podcasts? Daily (33%), Once per week or more (33%), Less than once per week (33%).

 

Even in our agency’s microcosm, it’s clear that podcasts are a force to be reckoned with. Listeners make up most of the office, and a majority listen to them either daily or once per week. The frequency numbers turned out to be a bit spooky (1/3rd for each tier of frequency). One daily listener noted: “I listen to podcasts daily, on my commute to and from work and over my lunch break too.”

The commute piece stood out to me because that’s a time when you’d have a captive audience (if the listener is driving a car, that is). If the advertising/sponsorship portion of the podcast comes on, the driver will be listening to it whether they’d normally skip it or not. Working out is another time—and guess what? Lots of people noted to me that they listen to podcasts when they jog or walk.

So how effective is podcast advertising?

Nielsen data reveals that most podcast listeners (78%) don’t mind when their podcast moves to the sponsorship message portion of the program, which means they’re less likely to be annoyed by advertising.1 This is reflected in low ad skip rates. Edison Research’s “Super Listener Study” data reveals that most podcast listeners aren’t rushing to skip ahead when they hear advertising, with 34% rarely or never skipping advertising, 33% skipping only some of the time, and 21% skipping most of the time, but not always. Only 12% always skip podcast ads.2

Not skipping is one thing, but having listeners truly pay attention is another. And yes, data suggests podcast listeners are paying attention. 48% of Edison’s study participants said they pay more attention to podcast ads than those of other media types.2 Recall is high too, with 86% of participants reporting they remember specific podcast ads.

So we’ve established this audience is friendly towards ads (at least some kinds of ads) and is largely paying attention. But how many of them are there? 2021 Pew Research revealed that 41% of Americans 12 or older had listened to a podcast in the past month.3 28% had listened to a podcast in the last week, up from 7% when data was first gathered in 2013. The audience is massive, and it’s growing.

ROI for podcast advertising seems to be favorable too, with 38% of marketers surveyed by HubSpot saying podcast advertising is their media channel with the highest ROI.4

Is all podcast advertising the same?

Not all ads are created equal. Intrusive ads that are automatically inserted on an ad platform like Spotify aren’t the same as a native host-read ad, which tends to be the more effective choice. Host-read ads have been shown to increase brand affinity by 67%, according to Nielsen data.5 43% of US podcast listeners surveyed by Acast said they were more likely to buy a product or service after hearing a podcast host promote it.6 According to Morning Consult data, 52% of podcast listeners say they’ll take recommendations directly from podcast hosts.7

Why are host read ads so effective? I’ll put aside the data and offer my own experience here. As a regular podcast listener, I feel like I “know” the hosts of programs I subscribe to. If they’re credible people and I like their content, a relationship forms (even if it’s one-sided). I’ve personally responded to ads because of podcast sponsorship because a) I’m happy someone is supporting the content – and content creators – I value, and b) the hosts who read the ads typically have something authentic and nice to say about the brand. Good podcast hosts find brands they want to align with so they can preserve their own personal brand while benefiting from sponsorship. Listeners can tell when corporate shilling is inauthentic or perfunctory just as much as they can sense enthusiasm. That’s why choosing a podcast to sponsor is more like a courtship than a simple transaction—and that’s how it should be if you’re looking for the most effective pairing.

What about podcast advertising for B2B?

While the podcast conversation tends to focus on consumers, there’s a great B2B opportunity for podcasts as well. Today, there are nearly 3 million podcasts in the world across various platforms and websites.8 Plenty are targeted at specific professions and industries, or specialized topics such as medicine, finance, or tech. Playing the odds, it’s likely that at least some of the decision-makers at the businesses you want to target are listening to podcasts. Another thing to remember: your clients are also consumers.

Ready to explore what a podcast strategy would look like for your business? Get in touch so we can help you find ways to incorporate both traditional and non-traditional media choices into your outreach efforts.

References:

 

  1. Handley, L. “There’s a new online ad format that doesn’t annoy people.” com. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/30/podcasts-audio-seen-as-an-online-advert-format-that-isnt-annoying.html
  2. Super Listeners Study 2020. Edison Research. https://www.edisonresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Super-Listeners-2020.pdf
  3. Audio and Podcasting Fact Sheet. Pew Research. https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/fact-sheet/audio-and-podcasting/
  4. Bump, P. “38 Podcast Stats That Advertisers Need to Know in 2022.” com. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/podcast-stats
  5. “Host-Read Podcast Ads Pack a Brand Recall Punch.” https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2020/host-read-podcast-ads-pack-a-brand-recall-punch
  6. Brenton C. and Gordon H. “Back to basics: Why host-read podcast advertising continues to be the most powerful form of influencer marketing for brands.” https://www.acast.com/blog/advertiser-stories/back-to-basics-why-host-read-podcast-advertising-continues-to-be-the-most-powerful-form-of-influencer-marketing-for-brands
  7. Meyers, A. “From the Host’s Lips to the Audience’s Ears: the Power of the Host-Read Podcast Ad.” Morning Consult. https://morningconsult.com/2020/11/09/podcast-hosts-advertising/
  8. “Podcast Stats: How many podcasts are there?” Listen Notes. https://www.listennotes.com/podcast-stats/

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