For the ninth edition of the Podcast Download series, Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights retained MARU/Matchbox to conduct an in-depth study of 603 weekly podcast listeners in October 2022. The Fall 2022 Report highlights trends from prior studies and examines new topics such as co-listening among parents with children and listener perceptions of brand safety and content appropriateness.
A focus on podcast advertising
Previous highlights of the Podcast Download – Fall 2022 Report examined the growing podcast viewing experience and watchers. Today, the focus is on podcast advertising.
Among podcast listeners, brand safety is less of a concern compared to other media
Podcast listeners actively choose which podcasts they want to listen to. This means that they are generally aware of the content they are about to consume.
73% of weekly podcast listeners have no problem listening to podcasts with language or content that might be considered unsuitable or objectionable. As such, advertisers can feel safer about listeners approving the content of their ads.
The podcast audience is in full control of their listening experience. If podcast listeners encounter language they find objectionable, 27% say they will turn it off.
The same goes for True Crime podcasts. Although True Crime podcasts often include graphic content, only 7% of weekly podcast listeners said that they would turn a True Crime podcast off if there was a disclaimer about graphic content/language.
Podcast listeners don’t mind listening to ads to support their favorite podcasts
Podcast listeners are uniquely receptive to ads. The average number of ads weekly podcast listeners think is appropriate has remained stable since July 2017.
Over the last five years, podcast advertising has exploded with many more ads being run. Despite this, podcast listeners indicate they are still willing to hear the same number of ads. For a 60-minute podcast, listeners say four ads would be appropriate.
Podcast listeners are invested in the success of their favorite shows. Over half (56%) of weekly podcasts listeners said they wouldn’t mind a couple of extra ads per show so their favorite podcasts could continue.
Podcast listeners prefer fun host-read ads over pre-produced ads and love when hosts have fun with the creative
Given a choice between different types of podcast ads, the top choice by far for weekly podcast listeners are host-read ads (48%).
The majority of weekly podcast listeners like when a podcast host has fun with ads they read (76% agree) and feel host-read ads are more engaging than “traditional” ads (61%).
Listeners like when the podcast host recommends a product they use (60%). Heavy podcast listeners are even more receptive to fun host-read ads and recommendations from podcast personalities.
Podcast listeners prefer funny and entertaining ads but say they currently hear more ads that communicate dry features/benefits
There is a creative opportunity for advertisers to create funny and entertaining podcast ads. The top two types of podcast ads weekly podcast listeners are interested in are funny ads (74%) and entertaining ads (72%).
However, the top type of podcast ads weekly podcast listeners say they actually hear are ads that communicate features/benefits of products/services (83%). Funny and entertaining podcast ads are only heard by 76% and 75% of weekly podcast listeners, respectively.
Appealing to listeners on an emotional basis is what podcast hosts do best and they should extend that method to their ad reads. According to Howard Luck Gossage, the advertising visionary often referred to as “the Socrates of San Francisco,” “The buying of time or space is not the taking out of a hunting license on someone’s private preserve, but it is the renting of a stage on which we may perform.” Podcast hosts can make use of their time on air by thinking of ad reads as additional time to connect with listeners emotionally.
Paul Feldwick, in his book Why Does the Pedlar Sing? What Creative Reality Means in Advertising, explains, “Advertising builds brands best when it is entertaining, popular, and memorable, when it is not just a pitch, but a performance.”
Podcast ads drive listener action
The majority of podcast listeners have taken some sort of action after hearing a podcast ad. 76% of total weekly podcast listeners and 85% of heavy podcast listeners (6+ hours per week) have taken any action after hearing a product or service advertised in a podcast.
The top action taken by weekly podcast listeners after hearing a product or service advertised on a podcast is seeking information online (43%), followed by talking to friends/acquaintances about the product or service (36%) and discovering a new product or service (33%).
Among heavy podcast listeners, 50% have searched online for more information, 46% have talked to their acquaintances about the product or service, and 41% have discovered a new product or service.
Advertiser Perceptions: Podcast advertising soars to record levels
Since 2015, Cumulus Media has commissioned an annual Advertiser Perceptions study of 300 national marketers and media agencies probing four key measures of podcast advertising engagement:
- Discussion: Have you and your colleagues discussed podcast advertising for potential media investment?
- Consideration: How likely are you to consider advertising in podcasts in the next six months?
- Intention: How likely are you to actually advertise in podcasts in the coming six months?
- Usage: Do you currently advertise in podcasts?
The eighth annual study conducted in June 2022 reveals significant growth in podcast advertising consideration and activation.
It is safe to say podcast advertising has hit the mainstream among national marketers and media agencies:
- Nearly nine of our ten say they have discussed podcast advertising.
- In a first for the industry, those who say they are likely to advertise in the coming six months hit a new high of 48%. Generally, there are more agencies and brands who say they will “consider spending” in a media versus those who say they “actually intend” to spend. From 2015 to 2021, this was the case for podcasting. This year, the gap has narrowed with 51% of the ad industry saying they will consider advertising in podcasts and 48% saying they actively intend to advertise, a major sign of a coming of age for podcast advertising.
- For the first time, a majority (61%) of national marketers and media agencies say they currently advertise in podcasts. This represents major growth from 2021 (45%). From 2017 to 2020, only about a third of national brands and their agencies said they were advertising in podcasts.
- Among podcast listeners, brand safety is less of a concern compared to other media
- Podcast listeners don’t mind listening to ads to support their favorite podcasts
- Podcast listeners prefer fun host-read ads over pre-produced ads
- Podcast listeners prefer funny and entertaining ads but say they currently hear more ads that communicate dry features/benefits
- Podcast ads drive listener response and action
- Advertiser Perceptions: Podcast advertising soars to record levels
Liz Mayer is the Insights Manager of the Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group®.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.