Should You Still Be Advertising On Podcasts? Industry Experts Weigh In

UPDATED: May 7, 2024
PUBLISHED: March 10, 2024
brunette haired woman speaking on a podcast

In the media’s evolving landscape, podcasting has slowly built up its momentum as a powerful medium. Podcast listenership is experiencing an unprecedented surge with 31% of Americans (approximately 89 million people) stating they have tuned in to at least one podcast in the past week. It’s only natural for companies to consider podcast advertising as a place to target new and existing audiences. 

Sharon Taylor, the senior vice president of podcast strategy and product operations at Triton Digital, says podcast advertising revenues continue to grow by double digits each year, a level of growth not seen in other mediums. 

She says this surge in popularity is due to the engaged and highly loyal audience of podcast listeners who seek out and consume content week after week. The connection podcast listeners have with their shows translates to a deep level of trust—a critical component that impacts how listeners view ads that may appear in the episode. 

Kim Marshall, co-founder and host of the Global Wellness Summit podcast, agrees, emphasizing that, “Listeners choose to hear that podcast. They typically trust and enjoy the host, so the ad is accepted on a different level.” 

Podcasts build trust

The trust podcast hosts foster with their listeners translates directly into the advertising. According to Edison Research, a staggering 65% of “super listeners”—individuals who consume podcasts for more than five hours per week—revealed they typically purchase products after hearing an advertisement on a podcast.

On top of that, 51% of podcast super listeners indicated that their opinion of a company is more positive when it is mentioned during a podcast they regularly listen to. Edison Research’s report also underlines the exceptional recall power of podcast ads, as 86% of respondents recalled hearing podcast advertisements in the previous week.

How to advertise on podcasts

With access to such a hyper-engaged audience, when does advertising on a podcast make sense? Mitch Bluestein, CEO of podcast production company MODRY, says podcast advertising isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for brands looking to share their product or service. 

“One thing podcasting really does work well for is brand awareness and kind of loyalty in that category,” Bluestein says. “Podcasts can get extremely specific in the niches that they speak about. If a company is trying to speak to a very specific type of audience, there are ways to find podcasts that can really effectively get in there and speak to the exact type of audiences that a brand is looking for.”

However, advertisers need to recognize that not all podcasts are created equal. Marshall recommends paying close attention to the quality of the podcast and staying away from podcasts that sound homemade or have low production values. 

“Think about who the audience would naturally be,” Marshall says. “Another question to ask is to find out if the podcast ever hosts live events and what kind of audience those events draw. It’s a three-dimensional way to gauge the vibrancy of a podcast’s followers.”

Consider brand alignment when advertising

Bluestein also says to consider the host’s personality and how engaging they are. 

“Is that host charismatic?” he poses. “Can that host put an interesting spin on this ad read? [Or give] an authentic spin on it that is really going to resonate with the audience or make them laugh or make the ad memorable? I would really encourage brands to lean into that.”

He recommends marketers give the host some creative freedom to work the script to be more natural for them. Taylor also offers this advice: “A good brief and some creative freedom will go a long way, as will being clear on your KPIs so that the team can guide you and ensure it’s measurable for you.”

Finding a podcast that aligns with your product increases the chances of sales conversions and makes the ad more authentic. 

Taylor explains that ad reads, mainly “baked in” ads recorded by show hosts, allow brands to leverage the relationship between the talent and their audience. Bluestein agrees, explaining that “host-read ads can be really effective for listeners because they have that trust already built into the host and the podcasts.”

Measuring the results of podcast advertising

While research has been done to show how effective podcast ads can be, advertisers themselves can run into difficulty tracking down those metrics. 

“It can be hard to track the conversion of a sale from a podcast ad,” Bluestein says. “One of the biggest challenges for podcast advertising is that the metrics just seemingly are not as good as TV and radio, where advertisers have traditionally spent dollars and are used to a certain way of collecting data and seeing success through analytics. I don’t think that has totally translated to podcasting yet.”

When it comes to tracking metrics, Taylor’s recommendation is to pay less attention to the downloads. 

“Whilst the download is our unit of measurement across the industry, it’s not necessarily what you’re buying when advertising,” Taylor explains. “Impressions, bought and sold as a CPM cost per thousand, also known as cost per thousand impressions or cost per mile, is what to get comfortable with.”

She also mentions that not all advertisements have to be baked in. Advertisers can control their targeting even more with dynamic ad insertion, geographic targeting and frequency capping. 

Despite the challenges of the relatively new field, Bluestein is optimistic about the future of podcast advertising. As the industry evolves, he anticipates more data-driven approaches that align with listener preferences, making ads feel seamlessly integrated into the podcasting experience. Taylor agrees, predicting that podcasting as a medium and advertising market will continue to grow.

Photo by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com

Ionna-Brannon

Iona Brannon is a freelance journalist based in the U.S. You can read more of her work at ionabrannon.com.