The impact of COVID-19 on the podcast advertising ecosystem
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shifted the way users consume audio. Long morning commutes became rolling out of bed and listening to detailed daily podcasts turned into flipping on CNN. In a world where podcasts have seemingly been pushed aside, listening trends suggest otherwise. Advertisers were thrust into an uncertain landscape as daily habits changed. But despite these unsure times, podcasts have continued to be a viable option for reaching consumers, whether it be while on a walk in the neighborhood or working from home.
Podcasting listening trends tell a story of growth
An estimated 155 million Americans considered themselves podcast listeners in 2020. This is up 26% from 2019 and 76% from 2018. Both monthly and weekly listenership grew as well, with 37% of Americans listening to podcasts in the last month and 24% of Americans listening to podcasts in the last week (Podcast Insights).
It’s no surprise that advertisers have been capitalizing on this growth. 41% of Americans have stated that they are more likely to buy a product or service if it’s advertised to them in a podcast. Top podcasts have acquired sponsorships from large brands to maximize brand recognition and growth. Coupled with ad reads from podcast personalities, this type of marketing tactic can connect with the listener on a more personal level.
The two E’s of podcasting: Education and Entertainment
With more people quarantining and working from home, podcast enthusiasts are leaning further into leveraging them either as a form of education (learning new skills) or entertainment. Consumers can search Spotify for podcasts on how to play the guitar, bake a cake, for opinions on the best Netflix shows right now, and so much more. There’s really no limit to what’s available for consumers.
This is great news for advertisers because it means there are virtually no limits on contextually relevant placements available to brands. And since seamless ad reads from podcast hosts have proven to be an effective way to keep listeners engaged with a brand’s sponsored content, there is measurable upside to these placements.
What opportunities are there for advertisers?
For advertisers, podcasts open up a world of scalable opportunities.
- If you are looking for scale, any DSP gives you the ability to secure podcast inventory across a plethora of relevant vendors. In the case where your DSP does not have this ability, all relevant podcast inventory is available through a direct buy.
- Premium inventory that includes live ad reads and inventory on premium podcasts can be negotiated through a private-marketplace deal.
- Contextually speaking, most of these podcast companies allow you to layer on targeting based off the listener consumption habits. This is similar to any digital media buy in which marketers can reach their exact target consumer (or, in this case, listener).
The podcast ecosystem will continue to grow
In a world filled with uncertainty, advertisers can count on podcasts to reach their target consumer. With the abundance of genres (according to The Podcast Host, there are 990,000 active podcasts on Apple’s network alone), consumers are able to find their niche. As opposed to standard audio ad insertions, podcast ad reads and sponsorships convey a personality that allows users to connect with them. So, whether your target audience is listening while online shopping, updating an excel spreadsheet, or watching the big game, podcast advertising can reach them.