Podcast Ad Opportunity

What Makes Podcasts a Unique Ad Medium: Two Foundational Learnings

Podcast advertising has grown dramatically over the past few years, outpacing all other digital media. The most recent IAB U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study 2023 predicts ad revenue will hit nearly $4 billion in 2025, more than 2x that of 2022.

As new advertisers come into podcasting, it’s critical that they approach podcasts with a different playbook than the one they would apply to other media. With that in mind, we’ve identified two key findings from The Canadian Podcast Listener 2023 that provide fundamental insight on the unique ways podcasts are consumed. This year’s study was conducted in early October among 1,604 monthly podcast listeners aged 18+ with support from The Podcast Exchange (TPX).

1. Podcast listening is highly personal, with listeners almost always consuming the medium on their own.

Unlike consumers of other audio or video media, the average monthly podcast listener says that more than 90% of the time they are listening to podcasts they listen to by themselves. Nearly three-in-four say they never listen to podcasts with others.

podcast consumption

The podcast listener is choosing their podcast from literally millions of other options and invests their time accordingly.

What this means for the podcast advertiser:

  • This personal connection drives deep engagement with the content, the host and potentially the advertiser.
  • Brand safety is less of an issue, as the listener knows what to expect from the content they have actively selected vs. mass media or social media content they come across incidentally.

2. Unlike radio or TV, most podcast listening is consumed through headphones or earbuds.

An extension of the personal, intimate nature of podcast listening, the average monthly podcast listener says that 55% of their listening is done over headphones. This rises to 62% among heavy podcast listeners (5+ hours a week) who, because of their long time spent listening, account for the bulk of podcast ad impressions.

This demands a distinct approach to ad creative. It also represents opportunity. Podcast advertisers don’t have to grab attention the same way they do with radio or even TV. They already have it. Rather, the job of a podcast ad is to keep the listener’s attention.

We’re seeing this reflected in the dozens of brand lift studies we’ve been conducting for podcasts at Signal Hill Insights. Depending on the ad and the podcast, radio-style ads have been effective. But more commonly ads read by the podcast host or that otherwise fit the tone of the podcast perform better. Like the loudmouth at a party, some radio ads are too intrusive for the up close and personal podcast listening experience.

With podcasts being a new ad medium, the playbook for podcast advertising is still being written. Given the steep growth in ad revenues to date, that paints a bright picture for the future.

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