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Skippable Ad Engagement, Pivoting to Long-Term Branding, Podcasting x SXSW, & More

Skippable Ad Engagement, Pivoting to Long-Term Branding, Podcasting x SXSW, & More

January 19, 2024

This Week in the Business of Podcasting

Hello hello, one and all, I come to you in the frozen tundra of the Midwest. Which is to say, the snow has already mostly melted and we’re back to only needing windbreakers. Here’s the week’s podcasting news to keep you warm this weekend.

Podcast Download: Disconnect Between Ad Creative and Audience Expectations

This week from Pierre Bouvard at Westwood One: new analysis of the Fall 2023 Podcast Download focuses on disconnect between audience expectations and the content of podcast ads.

The Podcast Download, a report by Signal Hill Insights and Cumulus Media, surveyed 608 weekly podcast consumers with MARU/Matchbox last October. Of those respondents, 71% said they are interested in ads that are funny or entertaining. Meanwhile, they’re largely getting ads that communicate features or benefits of the product or service, 78% of the time compared to entertaining ads at 72% and funny ads at 68%.

Bouvard points to two contrasting advertising strategies: converting existing demand, versus creating future demand. The former focuses on the short term, creating a lead and trying to generate sales immediately with tightly targeted messages. Meanwhile, creating future demand focuses on generating a memory that influences future sales, has broad reach, and emotionally primes the recipient to have positive associations with the brand.

Podcasting is a unique medium in that audiences have a tendency towards positive feelings about brands that financially support their favorite shows. If brand marketers leaned more towards creating future demand and brand-building instead of the direct-to-consumer strategies that lean more towards converting existing demand, they could harness those positive feelings for the long term.

TikTok on Skippable Ads, Becoming Search Destination

Last Thursday from Nicola Agius at Search Engine Land: a new study from TikTok and Magna Media Trials reports 73% of surveyed TikTok users feel having the ability to skip a video ad makes them more engaged in the viewing experience. 56%  of respondents are more likely to actively watch videos sponsored by a brand if they have the option to skip. Good news for TikTok’s scrolling video app that allows infinite, immediate skipping of sponsored content. And it re-affirms what podcasting has known for years: when users are given the ability to skip advertisements, the ones they do listen to will have more engagement potential than a forced ad.

On the subject of TikTok: this Wednesday Jeremy Goldman of eMarketer covered new data from Adobe on the subject of TikTok search. According to the findings, nearly 10% of Gen Z users on the app now prefer TikTok’s search function over established search engines like Google. This suggests the app is gaining trust and usability as a reliable source of information for young adults. A similar study by HerCampus found 74% of Gen Z respondents use TikTok when searching for information.

TikTok itself has leaned into the increased usage of the search function. Back in September the app began testing third-party implementations of Google search results and Wikipedia articles as potential search results in addition to relevant TikTok videos. Even before that, searching on the app has been promoted with a feature that causes the most-searched term people type while watching a video to appear over the video’s description, leading to further engagement as commenters discuss the suggested search term as well as the contents of the video.

TikTok may have retired their official podcast integration feature while it was still in beta, but the platform remains a powerhouse of engagement and content for podcasting to find engaged younger audiences.

Communication is Key in Podcasting

This week Semafor’s Max Tani covered Apple’s change to Apple Podcasts auto-download behavior, first rolled out with the launch of iOS 17 in September. In speaking to podcasters and publishers alike, including some working for publications like The New York Times, Tani found the change surprised and concerned quite a few in the industry.

The article serves as an excellent example of why inter-communication is key for the industry. Over sixty podcasting companies were at least partially involved in identifying the bug in Apple Podcasts that caused users who had stopped listening for several weeks to auto-download every missed episode when they returned to that podcast.

In broad strokes the article makes good points, as Tani did due diligence and talked to several people who work in the podcasting industry. In the short term, podcast download numbers will possibly drop for some, but the overall move strengthens the download as a metric. Still, a journalist operating in good faith was able to slip through the cracks and come away with the impression Apple surprised podcasting with this update, and the update was to change an intended feature Apple had developed, not a bug fix.

Podcasting Grows at SXSW

2024 is becoming the year podcasting makes a bigger splash than normal at South by Southwest. This week iHeartmedia has announced the 2024 iHeartMedia Awards ceremony will take place Monday, March 11th, at the Fairmont Hotel in Austin, Texas during SXSW.

The award ceremony announces winners selected by a panel of judges composed of podcast industry leaders, creatives, and visionaries. In addition to the usual categories like comedy, crime, and news, this year will feature the Icon Awards, which pay tribute to creators, organizations, and podcasts that have made groundbreaking industry contributions.

Guest presenters will cover a wide swath of celebrity podcast hosts, from Conan O’Brien to Martha Stewart.

The awards ceremony caps off a more podcasting-heavy SXSW, following Sound’s Profitable’s first official full day Business of Podcasting event on Saturday, March 9th. The series of four panels, nestled within the Advertising track, will remote discussion that elevates podcasting as an industry.

Quick Hits

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