For Pod’s Sake

“What podcasts do you listen to?” is often the question nowadays as opposed to “Do you listen to podcasts?”. The podcast industry has been consistently growing over the last decade, with global podcast advertising revenue following the same trend (see figure 1).

With this forecast to continue, it’s time we get to grips with podcast advertising – in particular how it works, why it works and how we can go about measuring effectiveness.

Figure 1

How it works

There are two types of podcast ad: the live read and the recorded read. A live read involves the host(s) integrating the ad in a relatively authentic way, potentially improvising as they go. The recorded read is then pretty self-explanatory and can be inserted in different slots within the episode (to be explained shortly).

There are also typically two types of delivery: ‘dynamic insertion’ or ‘baked-in’. The former is when an ad is served through an ad server and inserted within the content on-demand. ‘Baked-in’ refers to ads which are part of the podcast content and therefore live within the episode for its lifetime.

Finally, ads can also run across three possible timeslots: pre-roll (before episode properly starts), mid-roll (during the middle of the podcast) or post-roll (at the end of the episode). As you may have guessed, the mid-roll slots are generally the most effective, as listeners tend to be more engaged at this point and are much less likely to skip, in case they miss part of the episode.

Why it works

We’re seeing an increase in global podcast advertising, which would suggest the medium is working… but why?

  1. Ads tend to be highly engaging, with more than half of listeners listening to the entirety of an episode (source The Podcast Consumer – Edison Research)
  2. Podcast host(s) certainly sit in the influencer bracket, with the audience often listening purely for them, hanging on their every word. As a result, live read ads are an exciting prospect for advertisers
  3. Ability to target consumers better – advertisers are also able to target audience by podcast category e.g. tech, business, sport etc. The ability to target certain age groups then follows off the back of this

It is important to keep a bit of perspective though. While podcast popularity and advertising revenue is growing as we have seen, it is still a ways off similar mediums such as Radio and Music (see figure 2).

Figure 2


So, we have some pretty good reasons for why podcast advertising works, but how do we quantify this through measurement? Well, in truth, this is the element that needs most improvement. A large part of this is due to the fact that users often download podcasts onto their device which makes it difficult to track how much of a podcast a listener has actually listened to, how many times they have listened etc. The number of platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud etc.) makes the problem worse as well, as data becomes harder to collate.

Other than collecting and analysing data such as number of downloads, there are a few other measurement opportunities for brands looking to use the medium:

  • Vanity URLs – create a unique URL for a specific podcast which allows tracking of visits / sales via that podcast
  • Promo codes – similar to the above, mentioning a specific promo code in a podcast, allows easy attribution of sales back to the episode(s) in question
  • Surveys – the usual ‘how did you hear about us?’ question may also help

So, while the podcast world is growing, there are still plenty of improvements to be made before it is sees advertising revenue anywhere near the figures seen across Radio and Music.

Thanks for tuning in!

The Brightblue team have decades of experience helping clients understand media efficiency by truly digging into the drivers of sales and revenue. We have experience across automotive, retail, travel, entertainment, telecoms, FMCG, white goods, financial services, health and many other sectors. Our unique way of modelling the entire client journey truly helps marketeers understand what they can do to shine in their organisation by driving business and making a real difference to their bottom line. Get in touch if you have any questions on this article or any of the ways Brightblue can help.

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