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Podcast Advertising – The Safest Bet in a Risky Landscape

Podcast Advertising – The Safest Bet in a Risky Landscape

Written By

Tom Webster

Know the Author

May 2, 2024

Clear your schedule and grab your Oyster card, The Podcast Show London kicks off Wednesday, May 22nd. If you’ve not registered yet, grab your tickets here! Sounds Profitable is thrilled to be a part of this year’s show and we can’t wait to see you there. Don’t forget: Partners of Sounds Profitable get a discount on Podcast Show 2024 tickets. Get in touch to find out more.

We made a thing for you this week that I hope you get a lot of practical use out of!

If your business AT ALL touches the advertising world, from brands to agencies to publishers, you have probably heard all kinds of objections and “received wisdom” about why a client didn’t invest in podcasts. So, we put together a deck of the “greatest hits” of our advertising-related research over the past couple of years that you can use to make the case for podcasting to ANY audience of prospective buyers, internal teams, or even champions.

I called it “Podcast Advertising – The Safest Bet” because in a time when advertising and investment seem to be cautious about where they allocate their resources, podcasting actually represents one of the least risky ways to reach a segment of the public that is harder to reach today than ever, and to motivate them to act. The deck is available here, and I want to walk you through how I would present this data, which I encourage you to make your own.

The podcast version of this newsletter contains the actual audio of a recent presentation of this deck that I gave for the Brand Podcast Virtual Summit. A replay of the video, which includes 20 minutes of extra Q&A, is available here. I encourage you to get the replay! But I wanted to give you the meat of my presentation here, in audio form, so you get a sense of how I would step through The Safest Bet. But if you just want to go through the deck, that’s fine too – I want you to at least have this framework for stepping through the story so that you can make the most compelling case for podcasting that you can!

Before diving into the research, I want to highlight three key points about the current state of podcasting.

  • First and foremost, the podcast audience has never been larger and continues to grow year over year. This is what I hang my hat on, regardless of what happens in the advertising and business space as companies figure out their optimal size.

  • Second, many of the entities writing disparagingly about podcasting are not faring any better themselves.

  • Finally, podcasting continues to deliver returns for advertisers that surpass any other form of media.

As a partner-supported trade association for the podcast industry, Sounds Profitable has published an incredible body of work over the past two years – ten studies, to be exact. Our goal is to make careers in podcasting possible so that one day if your children express interest in becoming podcasters, it’s a viable and sustainable career path. All of our research supports this mission.

Today, I want to share some highlights from those studies, demonstrating why podcast advertising is currently one of the safest places to invest your ad dollars. While once considered an experimental spend, podcasting now offers better metrics than many other media, particularly radio and television. It provides more precise attention metrics than online display ads and is highly targetable.

Study after study shows that podcast advertising delivers for advertisers. Our most recent study, “The Ad Bargain,” revealed that consumers are more willing to consider products and services they learn about through podcasts compared to other media platforms. Podcast listeners are curious, likely to seek more information about advertised products, and more likely to recommend and purchase these products.

Our 2023 study, The Medium Moves The Message, demonstrated that compared to traditional broadcast media like television and radio, podcast ads significantly outperform in lower-funnel measures, such as driving favorability, consideration, and purchase action. On average, podcasting led to a 16% positive differential in taking action, compared to just 1% for TV and 6% for radio. We see similar results when comparing podcasts to online video platforms like YouTube and CTV, which is also from this year’s study, The Ad Bargain.

Branded podcasts can be particularly effective, even more so than advertising in some cases. They create a special connection between the content and the company, making consumers more positive about the people behind the brand. According to The Power of Brands in Podcasts, 41% of Americans – about 106 million people – say they’d be likely to listen to a podcast about a favorite brand or product. That’s almost as high as the percentage who would listen to a show by a favorite celebrity! And I bet you have a brand or two that you would personally say that about, as well.

So why does podcast advertising work so well? We talk a lot about the “intimate nature” of podcasts, but that’s become a cliche and even a drinking game for some. So instead, here are three audience-driven reasons why podcasts work:

1. People are generally very positive about podcasting, even those who don’t listen to podcasts themselves. In The Podcast Landscape 2023, we learned that Americans find podcasts entertaining, interesting, and informative. Podcasting as a career is viewed as respectable, valuable, and skilled.

2. The podcast audience is also becoming more exclusive, attracting a younger, more positive audience compared to broadcast media. The average age of heavy podcast listeners is 37, a full generation younger than the mean age for heavy consumers of AM/FM radio and television. Why does this matter? Because younger Americans are more positive about brands, and more receptive to advertising in general than older Americans – so podcast ads are already starting off with a friendlier crowd.

3. Podcast listeners are also less likely to hear a lot of ads, as they report hearing fewer ads in podcasts than the users of other media channels. Podcast consumers are also the most likely group of media consumers to subscribe to one or more ad-free music platforms AND ad-free streaming TV services, which means they are simply not hearing as many ads as other American media consumers.

As a result, even consumers who pay to avoid ads find podcast ads compelling. In our study on video podcasting, Sound You Can See, we found that YouTube Premium subscribers, who pay to skip ads, actually like and appreciate the ads read by podcast hosts. 87% of these subscribers either like or don’t mind the ads in the podcasts they consume.

Podcast advertising is particularly effective in lower-funnel measures, changing people’s hearts and minds about brands, appealing to an attentive and receptive audience, and offering a human connection to content and creators. Brands today aren’t looking to buy ads; they want to earn attention. And that is precisely what podcasts deliver: attention. In a media landscape littered with noise, podcast advertising emerges as the safest bet.

New Partners

Sounds Profitable exists thanks to the continued support of our amazing partners. Monthly consulting, free tickets to our quarterly events, partner-only webinars, and access to our 1,800+ person slack channel are all benefits of partnering Sounds Profitable.

  • NumberEight is a pioneering behavioral intelligence company that transforms data from sensors, ad requests, and content information into meaningful insights.

  • Atlanta-based production company Tenderfoot TV is known for its stable of content, ranging from award-winning true-crime podcast, Up and Vanished, to the genre-stretching Radio Rental.

Want to learn more about partnership? Hit reply or send us an email!

About the author

Tom Webster is a Partner at Sounds Profitable, dedicated to setting the course for the future of the audio business. He is a 25-year veteran audio researcher and trusted advisor to the biggest companies in podcasting, and has dedicated his career to the advancement of podcasting for networks and individuals alike. He has been the co-author and driver behind some of audio’s most influential studies, from the Infinite Dial® series to Share of Ear® and the Podcast Consumer Tracker. Webster has led hundreds of audience research projects on six continents, for some of the most listened-to podcasts and syndicated radio shows in the world. He’s done a card trick for Paula Abdul, shared a martini with Tom Jones, and sold vinyl to Christopher Walken.

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