• Nick Randall

Advertising on Podcasts VS Radio - What You Need to Know

By Nick Randall


Podcasts and radio - how can you utilise each platform to get the best results as part of your media plan? Should you use both or only one at a time? What kind of audiences prefer live or pre-recorded content? Whilst there are some similarities, each medium should be treated as unique to get the best results from your ad campaign. Read on to get the lowdown on how to optimise audio ads to your advantage.

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Podcasts: radio reinvented?


As recently as five years ago, podcast advertising didn’t commonly sit in either traditional or digital budgets. Now, podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums, with 36% of agencies reporting podcast advertising as a significant or regular part of their activity. *

Similar to the way that streaming services like Netflix have disrupted linear television, podcasts have created a new way to consume audio content that involves making a choice in the content piece you want to consume. This marks a shift from passively listening to whatever is being broadcast live from a radio station. Because the audience has sought out and actively selected the content they want to consume, they are more likely to be engaged and focused.

It is fair to say that podcasts have borrowed some aspects of radio (and also audiobooks) such as a consistent host, an audio driven conversational style and a recognisable format. However, podcasts have created their own unique platform, creating a new form of communication and connection.


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Mass appeal vs niche


Radio aims to appeal to the masses. Whilst certain stations may be more youth focused (for example, Triple J) or skew to an older crowd (like Gold FM), most aim to engage large audiences for as long as they can. Podcasts on the other hand, are less generalistic and explore particular topics. You can find podcasts on dental hacks, the “Unusual History of Gnomes” and Bigfoot.

This impacts audience. Whilst a lot of people across all demographics tune into radio, its wide range of relatable topics offering digestible background noise, podcasts attract a smaller, but more engaged group of people, offering more opportunity to pinpoint your targets.

The two mediums are not incompatible in media plans. Brands have seen success getting mass reach on radio and also targeting a niche audience on specialised podcasts.

As podcasts gain in popularity, mass reach is also achievable on this medium. Australia has among the highest rates of podcast listening in the world, meaning it can draw the same kind of audience volume as mainstream radio.**

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Live broadcast Vs opt in


Another distinction for radio and podcasts is that most radio is delivered live and podcasts are pre-recorded. Each style has its own advantages and disadvantages for advertisers.

Live content offers an ability to tap into the current conversation that is capturing the nation’s attention - for example, the latest pandemic news or sporting event. However, this means that the content is only relevant to the particular day (or week at a stretch) that it ran on. Some radio stations will edit their shows online for consumption at a later date, omitting the timely relevance, but most listening will happen live. This offers an opportunity to tap into the pulse of the moment for advertisers.

Unlike radio, podcasts are geared towards evergreen content. Serial started in 2014 and has been downloaded over 340 million times, establishing an ongoing podcast world record. Podcasts have the benefit of the listeners starting from the beginning and often being engrossed until the very end of the episode (with 93% of listeners listening to most or all of the podcast.***) Radio is structured differently, due to the audience tuning in and out at different times. This means ad frequency needs to be higher on radio to ensure that the audience gets the message. Podcasts can be more tactical with their ad placement with pre, mid or post-roll on offer. Dynamically inserted ads offer the opportunity to pinpoint audiences at a particular time and in a particular area or demographic.

Some radio lovers will lean towards the ease and routine of tuning into radio. The morning show may automatically switch on during their commute - a habit they have enjoyed since childhood. The Infinite Dial research says that AM/FM radio is still the No. 1 audio source in cars by a wide margin: It’s dropped only from the mid-80% range to the low-80% range over the past several years.

However, the same report suggests that new podcast listeners are coming from radio, not digital music. As well as the quality range of content available, this is largely because of the rise in the use of smartphones for spoken word audio listening and smart speakers. According to the report, over the past two years, smart speaker ownership has risen 50% while radio ownership has dropped slightly.

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The power of the host


One thing that both radio and podcasts have in common is the host that will often be one of the main sources of appeal for the audience. This is evident in the recent rise of the celebrity hosted podcast, which has been a great boost for the industry. Some popular radio personalities have departed from mainstream radio to pursue their own successful podcast, such as Byron Cooke.

Host-read ads are a great way to tap into the intimate relationship that builds between the radio/podcast host and the audience. This format is excellent for brand awareness, with Nielsen reporting that host-read podcast ads achieve 72% brand recall, compared with 62% for non-host-read ads. Additionally, host-read ads on podcasts produce an average of 50% increase in purchase and recommendation intent among listeners when compared against non-host-read ads.


Podcast engagement in the audio space can work with, or separate to radio. As more and more consumers flock to podcasts, there is an ever-expanding array of quality podcasts to advertise on. What marks podcasting out from radio is the way that audiences engage with the medium - which in turn influences the effectiveness of advertising positively. To find out how best to harness this power, drop us a line anytime.



* IAB

** PWC

***Edison, The Infinite Dial