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  • Writer's pictureRanieri & Co.

Advertising on Podcasts - How to get Measurable Results

Podcast advertising has exploded in growth over the last few years. Adding podcast advertising to your media mix is exciting and has the potential to deliver strong results. But it’s a common struggle for media buyers to identify which tools, platforms and metrics are the most relevant to making informed, data-driven decisions.

Which metrics are most meaningful? Reach? Downloads? Completion rates? Where do pixels come into this? Never fear, the podcast industry has adapted to provide detailed and insightful data to take podcast advertising from guesswork to science. Read on to get the full lowdown on maximising your podcast campaign’s profitability and success.

Impressions vs downloads

The IAB has really made this a lot easier for all involved in podcasting. For a long time there was quite a bit of angst around how impressions / downloads should be counted.

First let’s break down downloads. Downloads can be measured in two buckets -

  • progressively downloaded (streamed)

  • or downloaded which are stored on your device and don’t require an internet connection to listen to.

The only difference between the two is whether the listener is actively playing the file as it is downloaded or being saved for later listening. This is extremely important when it comes to ad delivery and impression reporting.

In terms of reporting downloads - total downloads measure the number of times a series has been downloaded. There are also unique downloads, or the number of unique IP addresses that have accessed the podcast. For example a series may have 4 total downloads and 2 unique downloads. This means, on average a unique person has downloaded twice from the series, most commonly because there are multiple episodes. Reach is interchangeable with unique downloads.

In terms of reporting impressions - in most cases, when a user listens to their favorite podcast on Spotify or Apple, the podcast progressively downloads as you’re listening. Each progressive download has a number of ad markers within the podcast itself eg: pre, mid & post roll and are served as the user listens. Impressions are counted if/when the ad is delivered. So if a user listens to the pre & mid roll (but drops out before the post roll) - there are two impressions counted. For any podcasts that are physically downloaded, an impression is counted at the time the podcast is downloaded.

With physical downloads, the impressions are still counted, but as the recent Apple Bug and consequential drop off in download statistics showed us, we rely on users progressively streaming the podcast to ensure efficacy of the reporting. Apple has cleaned up its download process and begun sharing analytics with publishers, thereby improving measurement on its own platform. When you buy dynamically inserted ads in contextually relevant shows on a CPM basis the wastage is at an all time low, this is due to the audience being able to be geographically targeted and in turn means maximum exposure for your campaign.


Attribution platforms can now provide brands with a pixel to be implemented on the brand’s website. These can track call-to-actions, whether those are sales or add to carts. Wondery uses Podsights which aims to “take podcast advertising from guesswork to a science.” With these tools in place, you can measure podcasts the same way you measure digital advertising – linking podcast ad exposure to online events like web visits, purchases, or even a lift in brand perceptions like awareness and purchase intent. That combined with the highly impactful nature of host read ads makes for an exciting time in the podcast landscape.

Brand Lift

The introduction of brand lift studies allows us to gain important insight into top of funnel metrics such as awareness versus lower funnel metrics such as brand favorability and taking action. As a refresher, a brand lift study means that two different audiences are served a podcast, one with ads and one without. The one that heard the ad receive follow up research to see what action the ad generated. A brand lift study undertaken by meal kit company HelloFresh showed those exposed to HelloFresh podcast ads had a 164% increase in unaided awareness and a 44% increase in aided awareness. Brand favorability grew by 51% and there was a 16% lift in those that said they would take an action based on the ad. (Inside Radio)

Neilson has revealed that campaigns with the strongest brand lift skew heavily towards audio. The top 10% of brand lift campaigns tend to have nearly three-quarters of their impressions tied to audio.


Using pixels can allow brands to access powerful business & performance marketing metrics such as the cost of acquiring a customer (CAC). For example, if a membership service advertises across a suite of podcasts with pixel tracking set up, we can record how many people go to the website and sign up as a direct result of hearing the podcast ad, plus the revenue attributed to that activity. Pretty amazing, especially when the podcast experience is screenless. Digital ads have a direct click through, but podcasts being a more premium medium have been proven to have the power to allow the listener to recall and type in a website address days after hearing the ad.

Offline Outcomes

Podcast advertising can also be effective in driving offline business outcomes including:

  • In-store visits: Audio drives consumers down the path to conversion. Audio-only campaigns drive a 10.1% lift for in-store visits, compared to 5.3% for multi-format campaigns.(Placed Powered by Foursquare)

  • CPG sales: Audio enables more offline CPG sales through effective and efficient media. Campaigns with a majority of audio impressions tend to outperform the rest, driving higher sales lift, ROAS, and greater reach and frequency.(NC Solutions & Oracle CPG Offline Sales Lift)

To conclude, these metrics we can now access simply confirm what we already knew about the effectiveness & power of podcasting, great stories and what they do for the brain. With these great stories it creates the perfect environment for brands to talk directly to deeply immersed listeners on a scalable level. Yes, the lack of data in podcast advertising was once foreseen as a major issue for the industry but with the addition of companies like Podsights & Chartable, podcast ad measurement has never been so robust and will only continue to mature.

We have exclusive access to the market-leading Wondery portfolio of shows including Dirty John, Even the Rich and Business Wars. Get in touch to find out how you can harness the most immersive platform.


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