Meeting the Facebook and Google Challenge: New Opportunities for your Next Podcast Brand Lift Study

Podcast brand lift study

Facebook, Google and the like have changed a big part of the conversation around buying and selling advertising.

At some point as you negotiate the ad buy, the agency or advertiser will say: “We need a Brand Lift Study.”

That hasn’t typically been an easy ask for podcasts. With a lot of listening happening outside the digital realm, it’s been tough for podcasts to go toe-to-toe with a Facebook or Google who can manage it all (conveniently) inside their walled garden. How do you give the client who’s testing the medium the ROI story that will bring them back for another campaign?

That said, podcasting is far from the black hole of measurement that it used to be. As more ad dollars flow into podcasts and audiences continue to grow, so are new metrics that provide proof of ad effectiveness.

Attribution helps

In the past few years, attribution metrics from companies like Podsights and Chartable have helped to move podcast ROI beyond promo codes and vanity URLs. By serving pixels as podcasts are downloaded and tracking listeners to site visits or sales, they can give you a clean read on the ability of an ad to generate short term action.

Brand Lift Studies reveal the full picture

Attribution studies measure activation—what’s happening at the bottom of the marketing funnel.  But when advertisers ask for a “Brand Lift Study,” they want to see how their campaign is performing at the top of the funnel.

Big brand advertisers are coming into the medium looking to understand how podcasts can help them build brands. According to the IAB’s latest U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study, 45% of 2020 ad revenues went to brand awareness campaigns, up from 38% two years earlier.

Is the campaign building awareness, consideration, favourability and purchase intent. Is it shaping brand perceptions?

You can’t answer those top-of-funnel questions simply by tracking digital behaviour. For true brand lift, you need survey responses from listeners who’ve been exposed to the campaign and compare their responses to a matching control sample who hasn’t.

There’s a brand lift option that’s right for every campaign

Podcast brand lift can be measured in a variety of ways. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Among the things we consider when we develop a Brand Lift Study: the publisher’s assets, the client’s objectives, the size of the buy, the length of the campaign, the target demographic and the nature of the marketing initiative (branded podcast or ad campaign).

Possible approaches include:

  • Pre-and-post studies
  • Controlled exposure studies: podcast listeners recruited to listen to a podcast and asked a series of brand questions, with responses from a control group compared to a test group of listeners who heard the ad
  • Listener surveys: listeners to the podcast are invited to complete a survey where we can check the impact of the campaign
  • First-party database surveys: tapping into a publisher’s listener database

New opportunities for Podcast Brand Lift Studies

Here’s where it gets exciting.

With more ad revenue coming into podcasting, the number of impressions and the dollar value of each campaign is increasing. That in turn opens the door to Brand Lift Studies that capture podcast listeners in a natural listening environment.

If you have a campaign that delivers at least a million ad impressions, you can apply pixel tracking to listeners who have downloaded a podcast then follow-up with a survey. This allows you to confirm lift on awareness, consideration and other top-funnel measures by comparing survey responses of listeners exposed to the podcast to a matching control group. The larger the campaign, the more opportunity there is to dig deep into the impact of the campaign.

Combine the deep listener engagement that podcasts bring to advertisers with grown-up brand lift measurement and—hey Facebook and Google, you better watch your back!


At Signal Hill Insights, we love talking audio. And we love working with publishers and agencies to customize the brand lift solution that makes clients happy and coming back for more. Let’s set up a time to talk Brand Lift Studies: email Jeff Vidler or Joanne Van der Burgt. We’ll share what we’ve learned from the different types of studies we’ve done and talk about how we can help you.