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A New Kind of Advertising that Reaches Customers

Let’s be honest. Consumers hate advertising. Numerous studies and surveys have consistently revealed that as many as 80 percent of the public would like to avoid experiencing digital media advertisements altogether. The most prized target of advertisers, the affluent and young, find advertisements so distasteful that they are willing to pay just to avoid the experience. Ad-blocking software is soaring in popularity and, given the reality, it’s not surprising that perhaps one of the most famous attributes of recordable streaming entertainment is the ability of the viewer to “skip over” the program’s advertisements.

It’s a sobering thought for those who make our life’s career a means to connect brands with consumers. If the products we produce are so unpopular with such a large selection of the populace, how popular are we? Can it be that we are appreciated almost as little as professional politicians? Now there’s a discouraging hypothesis.

There is a chance that the raw numbers reflect consumers’ dislike for poorly created and over-produced ads. It may also be an example of a “love-hate relationship,” one that consumers hate but, given the ultimate choice of abstention, would not want to go entirely without. The numbers also show that marketers’ advertising budgets have grown steadily over the past few years. This year advertisers will spend more than $1 billion on advertising, which is expected to increase to $2 billion by 2023. It could be said that never before has anyone paid so much to produce something so hated.

So, if it was discovered that a medium of advertising was bucking the trend and winning the attention span of a majority of consumer audiences, one might be skeptical. But recent data generated by Podcast Playbook indicates that 67% of podcast listeners could recall products and brands featured in ads, and 61% paid for a product or service they heard advertised on a podcast. Now there’s a statistic advertisers can love!

Emerging from the invention in the 1980s, podcasting has been described as the “ultimate democratization of media creation and distribution”; a sort of “finger in the eye of established media.” Anyone with a spare space at home, a laptop, a chair, a desk, and a microphone can create a podcast. As evidenced by more than a few examples, only a fraction of communication talent is necessary to attract followers. The medium has grown to an impressive 2 million podcasts producing more than 48 million episodes. With public consumption of podcasting nearly doubling over the past decade, the sector has been receiving increased attention from brands looking to experiment with attracting a specific targeted consumer through the increasingly popular medium. According to the Podcasting Audit Study by Bridge Ratings, “advertisers are expected to spend $500 million on podcast ads in 2021.”

Initially, podcast advertisers were emerging or disruptive up-start brands with limited advertising budgets and a narrow but evolving stable of products or services. Live-read ads are the backbone of podcast advertisements. The art form relies on the popularity of the host and is favorable to a niche consumer. “Spots” are inserted at the beginning, middle, and end of each show. With limited production costs, the ads are inexpensive for companies with limited advertising budgets. Well-healed legacy brands are able to “dip their toes” in the space without many risks.

Evolving out of the wild-west phase of the medium’s life-cycle, measurement and attribution methodologies and technologies are improving. The use of Promo codes, Vanity URLs, and Checkout surveys are being used to determine the effectiveness of ad campaigns as concerns for scalability continue to evolve and adapt. Without a universal buying platform or an industry-standard third-party verification provider, verification of the performance of an ad can be manually intensive for advertisers. Advertising agencies specializing in the podcast space are developing reliable and credible methods and metrics to measure campaign effectiveness and return on investment (ROI). Close attention to improving attribution, targeting, and creativity will be required if the medium is to attract an increasing share of advertising revenue.

Podcasts are becoming highly engaging venues for mostly younger, mobile audiences who listen to them on smartphones while commuting or working out. There are more than 550,000 podcasts every day on a myriad of topics for nearly every interest. More than 73 million Americans are active daily podcast listeners. It is a medium that advertisers and marketers can no longer overlook.