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Podcast Ad Spend Up 5% YoY, Branded Kids’ Podcasts Prove Popular, & More

Podcast Ad Spend Up 5% YoY, Branded Kids’ Podcasts Prove Popular, & More

August 31, 2023

This Week in the Business of Podcasting

A busy week, both in podcast news in general and here at Sounds Profitable. Our largest study yet has launched, The Download is back in full swing now that I’m not producing it live from the floor of Podcast Movement. Let’s go over the essentials from this first week back from being in Conference-Mode.

Track behaviors, trends, and insights: Download Magellan AI’s podcast advertising benchmark report for Q2

Word of mouth is still the best podcast promotion tool, study shows

This Thursday Podpod’s Reem Makari covered the newest Sounds Profitable study. Titled The Podcast Landscape in America, the research is built from a survey of 2,400 U.S. residents age 18 and up. The study found 55% of respondents discover new podcasts through a recommendation from someone in their close social circle. From the article:

“As personal recommendations prove to be an effective way to promote a show, advertisers can take advantage of this by investing in podcast influencers with host-read campaigns, as 25% of respondents said they find new podcasts through a recommendation from another podcast host.

The survey also indicated it’s more efficient to promote podcasts on the social media channels of other well-known influencers through paid advertising, as 67% of respondents are more likely to discover new shows that way, as opposed to sponsored posts and ads through companies’ own social media accounts.”

As is no secret to regular readers of The Download, podcasting continues to perform well. A new Digiday article from Sara Guaglione aggregates several recent studies into podcasting’s performance. The piece, titled “New podcast studies showing growth in ad spend, listeners suggest the bubble hasn’t burst” cites reports from Westwood One and MediaRadar. According to the Westwood One and Cumulus Media Advertiser Perceptions study, nearly 60% of agencies and advertisers currently advertise in podcasts, up from 24% in 2020.

MediaRadar finds U.S. podcast ad spend has increased 5% year-over year, with ad revenue from business podcasts growing 30% from last year. Crime podcasts saw a 26% growth, and comedy grew 10% in the same period.

Podcasting is doing well, and with new research the industry can begin to build strategies around why it’s doing well and aim  to continue that growth.

Branded Kids Podcasts on the Rise

Last week during Podcast Movement Denver, Disney announced an upcoming audio drama series titled The Disney Frozen Podcast: Forces of Nature. Narrated by ABC chief meteorologist Ginger Zee, the 12-part podcast will tell a story set between the ending of Frozen 2 and the upcoming Frozen 3.

That Friday, Nickelodeon announced a new kid’s fiction podcast of their own: Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Official Podcast. The Audible exclusive is set to debut at the end of September, just in time for parents who grew up with the original television series in 1992 to get their kids interested in the franchise. Instead of a rewatch podcast, something Nickelodeon has done for flagship shows like Spongebob Squarepants and Avatar: The Last Airbender, Nickelodeon is adapting the concept into a Halloween-appropriate audio drama. An easy choice, as the original series’ premise of kids telling scary stories around a campfire easily translates to audio fiction.

It’s also worth noting that the podcast is the only new content coming out for this franchise this year. Instead of acting as a value-add for a new season of the series or a rewatch podcast to generate interest in the back catalog, this new series is timed to get new audiences interested in the core premise of the IP during the peak month for horror content.

And on the younger end of the spectrum: this week Wondery announced a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises to produce a slate of podcasts based on Seuss characters and books. The first podcast, The Cat in the Hat Cast, will be a fictionalized variety show. The podcast stars actor Andrew Barbato as the titular Cat and improv comic Brandon Zelman as the rules-abiding Fish. The show targets kids 3 and up with sing-a-longs, tongue-twisters, and wordplay. The first episode premieres mid-September on Wondery+.

Since writing this section for the podcast version of The Download Recap, PBS Kids has also announced a third season of The Arthur Podcast, which takes stories originally told over the TV series’ 20+ year run and turns them into podcasts with new narration from Arthur.

While traditional rewatch podcasts are popular and work well as-is, this new burst of kid-friendly fiction content using established IP further demonstrates the power of podcasting. Kids dying for new Frozen content get a new story between movies, and both parents and kids looking for kid-friendly Halloween content now have a podcast from a beloved property.

TV’s Nielsen complaints get louder

Football season is upon us and TV networks are steamed at Nielsen’s plan for measuring Amazon Prime’s “Thursday Night Football” streaming block. According to reporting from Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand from this Monday, the core issue lies in Nielsen’s proposal to use Amazon’s first-party data to supplement viewership numbers for the Thursday Night Football programming block. From Ourand’s article:

“The crux of the networks’ complaints is that the proposed move only will help Amazon’s viewership numbers for NFL games. TV network viewership will not be helped at all. Ad Age reported that if this change was in effect last December, Amazon’s ratings would be 18% higher.”

This move could also set a precedent for other streamers to do the same and further undermine Nielsen’s position as an objective, impartial ratings data aggregator.

The Video Advertising Bureau has objected to the Nielsen change and the Media Rating Council is expected to rule on the decision this week. Yet another reminder that impartial measurement options are a critical component of any media industry.

Nearly 3 out in 10 U.S. Households Cancel Streaming Platforms to Save Money

Last Friday Jeremy Goldman, writing for Insider Intelligence, covered a new study from Parks Associates that examines subscriber churn on streaming services. According to the report, 29% of US internet households are canceling video streaming service subscriptions to save money. The study also found 47% annualized subscriber churn rate on streamers.

Several explanations are offered, ranging from the rising popularity of free ad-supported TV streaming services, inflation-based finance concerns, and price increases. As of July 23% of Netflix subscribers are on the new ad-supported tier, up 4% since June. In bids to add enough value to ensure they’re one of the select few services consumers drop other platforms to continue paying for, Warner Bros. Discovery is adding a CNN stream to Max in late September, and Disney has announced plans to add unscripted original titles to bolster Disney+ in the UK with sports, music, and fashion content.

Podcasting, on the other hand, started as a free medium. While podcasts are starting to offer paid subscriptions, entirely paywalled podcasts are few and far between. Now that video streaming has started to rival the cable packages in cost and podcasts have begun to embrace higher quality video content, podcasting could be in a position to convert jaded video streaming customers.

Industry Insights with Magellan AI

In Q2 2023 the average podcast episode had 2.4 advertisers, across 2.9 ads on average. By contrast in Q1 2023 episodes had on average 2 advertisers across 2.5 ads. In Q2 2023 the most common spots were 30s mid-rolls.

Looking to get a handle on podcast advertising metrics? Book a demo with the Magellan AI team.

Quick Hits

While they may not be top story material, the articles below from this week are definitely worth your time: