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Is Podcast Advertising the Right Play for Your Brand?

If we experience life over a long enough period of time, we soon discover that history is often repeated. Devices and practices once thought to be obsolete or diminished in comparison to new discoveries and designs find a way back into practice and popularity. When Guglielmo Marconi first turned radio waves into a wireless communication system in the late 19th century, radio dramatically altered the ability of humankind to communicate and pass on information. No longer dependent on the written word, people could gather around the radio and be entertained and inspired by the spoken word. The conversation was mostly casual, personal, and appealing to listeners. Television and eventually digital and virtual communication networks overtook the popularity of radio programming.  The AM and FM frequencies that carried fireside chats between speakers and audiences across the airwaves appeared relegated to history, or so it seemed.

While the physics of Marconi’s discovery are vastly different than today’s digital counterpart, the old-style programming that permeated the radio waves for decades is new again and becoming very popular among listeners. The Oxford Dictionary defines a Podcast as “a digital file made available on the internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

Audio is quickly becoming the ultimate learning medium once again when communicating a clear and concise message is desired. Unlike email or text, the audio format offers the ability to communicate multi-dimensional, comprehensive messages that can eliminate misunderstanding and confusion. Radio remains the most popular audio source while driving but podcasts broadcast over the internet have been becoming increasingly popular since 2013. In 2021, Podcast Insights reported that there were more than two million active podcasts broadcasting over forty-eight million episodes. More than 78% of Americans are aware of podcasting and almost 60 percent of Americans listen to a podcast regularly, more than double the audience just a decade ago. With the public’s popularity in podcasts, marketers are eager to explore the medium’s opportunities.

Revenues from podcast advertising are expected to surpass $2 billion by 2023 according to eMarketer, with US marketers expected to spend more than $1.3 billion on podcast ads in 2021. Podcast advertising is popular among marketers because of the diverse selection of programs that offer unlimited access to a wide variety of consumers that identify with a brand. Podcast advertising also yields leads with a conversion rate seven times higher than leads from regular website traffic.

While podcast advertising is not ideal for advertisers in the awareness stage, the medium performs well with consumers who are already familiar with the brand. Available in various formats, podcasters bring back an era when the “Star” writes and reads the ad content, giving the message a personal and authentic ring. Podcasters are becoming the ultimate influencer. Can podcast advertising be right for your brand?

As with any marketing strategy, planning and due diligence will prepare a campaign for success. Establish clear objectives and goals at the outset and spend the time to identify the appropriate podcast format and influencer relative to the product or service that will be promoted. A multi-faceted campaign across digital channels will improve the likelihood that a diverse but targeted audience is reached and motivated. “According to a recent Ad Results Media and Edison Research study, podcast listeners exposed to an ad are 74% more likely to visit a company or product’s website and 65% more likely to purchase a product or service.”

As with other media campaigns, know where your best customers are listening and meet them where they listen the most. Create compelling ad content that resonates with your potential customer. Reaching the correct listeners, optimizing the quality of engagement, and achieving increased conversions demands a careful understanding of some basic but important factors of content formation. The best content is original, conversational in tone, and authentic.

Podcasts come in all sizes and dimensions and often smaller audiences can yield higher customer engagement. The popularity of the host may impact the campaign’s success and result in better return on investment of marketing spend which can cost $29 for every 1,000 listeners the podcast attracts.

Once an overlooked opportunity, podcast advertising is making up for lost time. According to the WARC report, the podcast advertising industry is currently worth $855 million, and is expected to reach $1.6 billion by 2022. While a small portion of digital’s overall ad revenue of $130 billion, podcast advertising may be an important strategic addition to a brand’s marketing playbook.