Listen Up! Podcast Reach is on the Rise
Audio content on demand is not new, but increasingly the frontier territory known as Podcasting appears to have taken root as a platform suited for the masses. There are over 100 million podcast listeners in the US. Last year, 12 million people listened to a podcast for the first time. And why not? It doesn’t require a high degree of technical know-how to track down and listen to a show about any number of very special interest topics. There are some reasonably well-known names in the industry including NPR, iHeart Radio, and PRX, but Google is the biggest player making noise about the potential of audio. Unlike most of the relative newcomers, Google is more interested in consumers who have never listened to a podcast than making a play for the existing listener target. Launched in June 2018, Google Podcasts anticipates that the true potential market lies in the 56% of people in America who have yet to discover the world of audio on demand via podcasts. The chances of recruiting new listeners is even higher in other countries, and Google can reach the furthest corners of the globe with its superior tech. Exerting dominance through their search tools, Google can instantly direct a searcher to a relevant podcast and effectively capture them. Google Play has over 1 billion active users so connecting their existing user to podcasts via the topics they’re exploring isn’t much of a stretch.
There are other directories like Spotify and iTunes. As one of the most popular podcasting apps, Apple Podcasts surpassed 50 billion podcast downloads early in 2018, demonstrating that the potential is there for those who know how to leverage it. That same year, $600 million in advertising revenue was generated by podcasts. It’s a relatively small number for plenty of industries, but since most shows are barely making it on extremely limited budgets, it may mean the outlook is looking up. Fan-funded smaller shows use a subscription model to stay afloat. Survival is the immediate objective determining whether longer-term programming is even an option.
Trust and Engaged Audiences
Those shows wielding the largest audience arsenals, with hundreds of thousands, and even millions of listeners can more comfortably collaborate with advertisers on how to monetize their programs. Reach is still key to advertisers, and podcasts. Even though they are less mature than other mediums, they provide advantages that other channels can’t. It may be natural then, that advertisers are willing to consider podcasts as an alternative to more expensive and less effective strategies that they recognize need to be replaced. Banner blindness and the general tendency of consumers towards ad-avoidance of visual messages don’t factor into podcast advertising. Trusted hosts and interest-based topics in society and culture, business, comedy, news and politics, and health presented in a range of formats including educational, fictional and inspirational all garner deeper engagement with audiences.
It’s no secret that podcasts draw listeners into their programming in the latest and greatest ways! They’re a medium where the consumer is literally all ears and hanging onto every word, therefore a perfect forum for creating brand awareness! Because listeners see the advertisers who provide the support structures ensuring the survival of a trusted host, or much-loved show, as more friend than foe, there is a receptivity to ads that is unheard of in the hyper-competitive fight for eyeballs that advertisers face every day. In fact, 78% of polled listeners reported that they are okay with podcast ads and understand that shows need this sort of funding.
Equally significant is the statistic that 67% remember brands and products from their podcast show ads. Podcast listeners are typically gender-balanced and fairly educated, always looking to learn more! Additionally, the most exciting statistic to sponsors is that 63% of listeners made a purchase as a result of exposure to an ad during a podcast. There are other advantages, particularly for advertisers wishing to reach the elusive millennial audience who go out of their way to avoid ads that interrupt their flow. The most ardent podcast fans are aged 25-34. Podcasts are convenient and accessible by smartphone, and the ads are embedded in the content, making them less obtrusive to the listener on their way to work, or working out, or relaxing. 49% of podcast listening is done at home. There are half a million-plus shows and more being added all the time. It’s this sort of topical diversity that has turned 67 million Americans into podcast listeners. This number is forecast to continue growing, forecast to increase by 81% by 2022.
Podcast Ads Drive Sales
So are advertisers seeing a return on investment? The simple answer is yes, but it’s more complicated than that. Effective campaigns that leverage the medium, created with a good understanding how it works and who the audience is, have seen a positive impact of podcasts on marketing goals. Although podcasts don’t offer pay-per-click analysis of consumer behavior in real time, according to Forbes the measurement methods available are solid enough to provide real insights. Because direct-response ads are the most common type of podcast advertising, there is a paradigm for what has a good chance of performing in the podcast channel. Using promo codes, vanity URLs and checkout surveys means ROI can be tracked. Additional monitoring via social media has also been used successfully for brand awareness campaigns. Because podcast listeners are much more active on every social media channel, marketers can look at increases in likes and shares linked to their podcast sponsorships.
Successfully leveraging podcast advertising also gets down to understanding the sweet spots and messages that synch up with the target audience. A mid-roll spot is considered the ideal placement in a podcast with :60 of time in the middle of the show when audiences have achieved a degree of flow with the show. The :15 pre-roll slot also has value. When delivering an ad in this place, there’s a lot to be said for letting the host do their magic.
With proper education and some actionable points, hosts can help frame up and interpret ads in a way their audience can relate to. Since hosts are a large part of the reason listeners tune in and follow a show in the first place, it just makes sense to leave the heavy lifting to the host doing the live read. Podcasts may offer more opportunities to drill down on audiences organically, and to listen and understand what a show is all about before devising the best way to approach the audience. If sponsorships continue to be seen by consumers as supportive and integral to the achievement of ongoing programming, podcasts may become an untapped place for advertisers to find a new welcome.
If you are curious about how to expand your reach through podcast advertising, contact us to discuss a media strategy for your brand.