Editor’s Note: As more publishers get into the podcasting game, the below benefits of podcast advertising should serve as selling points for publishers trying to entice marketers to wade into what will be new territory for many clients.
Over a decade ago, podcasts became a new medium of entertainment and information with the great potential ability to reach audiences in various markets. Advertisers were unsure if they would succeed or be destined to fail as other innovative visual and experiential content disrupted the advertising industry.
However, podcasts have surprised audiences and advertisers alike with their success and relevance. According to a 2018 Infinite Dial consumer survey from Edison Research and Triton Digital, 64% of Americans aged 12-years-old and over are familiar with podcasts, and 26% have listened to podcasts in the past month. Overall, 48 million Americans turn on a podcast each month thanks to the prevalence of streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and Alexa-based Amazon Music.
As a result, a 2017 study published by Slate Group Studios in partnership with Prudential Financial Inc. research found that podcast units were more than twice as successful than banner ads in significantly improving brand awareness and ad recall. How and why are podcast ads changing the advertising world and connecting consumers?
With new emerging smart speakers and mobile devices, streaming podcasts is more accessible than ever before. But there are many other traits that allow advertisers to target audiences of all ages.
1. The Three-in-One Rule: Leverage Ads as Story, Education and Entertainment
Podcast advertisements can provide their audience with a continuous, intriguing story. For listeners, modern podcast ads are now a defining part of the auditory experience. Since podcast ads are native, they can become easily integrated into the story. Experienced hosts often create ads that seamlessly fit into the story’s framework or timeline. In addition, what usually hooks listeners to pay attention are the entertaining and engaging ways in which these ad spots inform listeners and add to or reveal about the story. As a result, the audience doesn’t skip ads because they want to continue listening to the show, discovering new and intriguing information in the process. In fact, a 2016 Midroll Media study found that 90% of all podcast respondents reported listening to the targeted ad, and did not skip or fast-forward through it.
According to Nielsen’s Podcast Sponsorship Effectiveness Study, 70% of podcast listeners reported that ads brought a new product or service to their attention. As audiences take time to invest in the podcast, they can also gain more than just entertainment value; they gain awareness or insight into a product that can physically improve their lives too. The opportunity to listen to a fulfilling story while learning about an innovative service or product through an integrated ad can help listeners feel like they’re being afforded guidance or even a slight education. Plus, as each ad read remains unique and entertaining, readers won’t tune out like they do during radio ads. Combining story, information (educational or otherwise) and entertainment empowers listeners to respond. PR Newswire offers a breakdown of the characteristics that make global consumers consider branded content as more appealing:
- Thought-provoking — 64%
- Imaginative — 58%
- Humorous — 55%
- Innovative — 51%
2. Utilize the Two-Ad Model
To gain ad efficiency, a strategic advertising plan needs to be identified — and a two-ad model can be an advertiser’s golden ticket to brand relevance. TWiT.tv’s annual survey, for example, showed that their ad model which provides two host-read ads per advertiser per show episode was more effective than a one-ad model.
Other media outlets have had success, too. Midroll Media’s brand recall study showed 80% of listeners were able to recall ads for at least one brand advertised during one podcast episode. Their study also showed that campaign effectiveness improves significantly when multiple ad spots are run with repetition or more than one type of ad. For instance, a short billboard and one to two-minute interstitial ads over one pre-roll or interstitial placement in an ad campaign can help boost memory and recognition as listeners get to learn about products early on, and this is the same model that TWiT.tv follows.
In addition, the effectiveness of ads is increased when podcasts don’t overrun the program. It’s advised that fewer interstitial ads (one ad per half hour) during each episode increase effectiveness. Research by Midroll concludes that ads that run over five episodes result in 39% more listener recall.
3. In Podcast Hosts We Trust
Authentic, relevant, and timely ad sharing allows the audience to connect with the host and the information provided in the podcast advertisement. Live host-read ads enable listeners to feel that ads for products and services are recommendations from the people they trust. Often, podcast ads act as endorsements by the hosts. Personality is a big part of selling a podcast ad as listeners don’t want to hear a mundane ad, but one that is original and unique. Live ad reads also give co-hosts and guests the opportunities to express ideas and experiences while information on a product/service is shared. Conversational tone can help feature a personalized touch that helps us consider purchasing an advertised product. In fact, podcast hosts’ live ads can have a substantial positive influence on potential buyers. Fifty-one percent of all respondents said they were somewhat or much more likely to make a purchase from the target brand after listening to the ad.
Brands can steadily benefit from the trusted relationships and influence that hosts provide listeners. Purchases have been recorded at 61% after Midroll podcast listeners learned about a service/product through a podcast ad. Overall, it can improve brand perceptions and message awareness so that people can build relationships with brands in more trustworthy, sustainable and meaningful ways due to its timeliness and relevance through an authentic source. Nielsen indicates that 83% of audience listeners say that a podcast host offers information with both a natural and authentic delivery, which is only a plus for brands who wish to advertise on podcasts.
Last year, advertisers invested $314 million into podcast ads in the United States and IAB expects that number to grow by 110% to $659 million in the next three years. Brands are now reaching listeners who skip ads in other forms of media or those who don’t interact with ads on a daily basis due to subscription OTT content or DVR. With podcast advertising disrupting the way we discover useful products and services, we can build a more informed society that works for us — and advertisers can be at the center of it all.
Lisa Laporte is the CEO and co-founder of Artisanal Agency and TWiT.tv, companies focused on new media and technology. Laporte brings over 30 years of experience in business development, media and advertising sectors. With expertise in fostering successful startups, she has built diverse teams and successful partnership. Follow her professional blog and her personal website for her thoughts and travels at Life of Lisa.