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  • Writer's pictureOlly Hutson

How to Reach Untapped Audiences With Podcast Advertising

By Olly Hutson

A new study by Sounds Profitable and Signal Hill Insights, The Medium That Moves the Message, (March 2023) has demonstrated that podcast audiences are more receptive to ads than broadcast radio and television audiences. The study comes at a time when ensuring that your advertising budget is working hard for you is more important than ever in the constantly-shifting economy. What is driving the shift for audiences? Which medium gets the best reach? Read on to find out the key learnings from the study and how they can optimise your media strategy.

The Medium That Moves The Message study surveyed 2,002 Americans 18+. As the US is the most mature podcast market, findings tend to be indicative of global trends. The study is unique as it looks at four key brand health measures (awareness, favorability, consideration, and taking action/purchase behavior) for five of the largest advertisers by share of voice in each of the three platforms (TV, radio and podcasting).

Exclusive Audiences

One of the most interesting findings from the study is that heavy podcast listeners are 16-18 years younger than heavy TV/Radio listeners. This means that a large portion of podcast listeners do not watch linear TV or commercial radio at all, providing a podcast ad buy with a unique audience. “The younger you go with the podcast audience, the more likely these are additive net new consumers that are not currently being reached by TV and radio,” Sounds Profitable Partner Tom Webster said.

The audience is moving. Behaviour is shifting. There was a time when we all sat down and watched the same TV show across the nation, at the same time. But as Netflix, Spotify and their competitors emerged and got more and more sophisticated, consumers are opting into entertainment that they want to see rather than tuning into whatever's on. This means that the audience is more engaged for a deeper and more intimate and emotional connection.


But TV and Radio have the advantage of wider reach numbers right? Wrong. The study found that podcasting’s weekly reach 18-34 in the US is nearing that of radio and TV. Monthly podcast listening hits 40% among Australians 18+, up from 37% in 2021. (The Infinite Dial 2022.)

It’s also worth noting that podcast audiences are in growth and TV and radio audiences are declining. In Australia in 2022, around 20% of free-to-air viewers in primetime last year went elsewhere, in what Pearman Media’s Steve Allen described as “the biggest audience decline in the history of TV” (Mi3).

However, there is more headway for growth in podcast audiences. The PwC Entertainment and Media Outlook Report 2021-2025 has estimated that the Australian streaming audio and podcast ad market was worth $599 million in 2020 and forecasts that the sector will experience a very healthy CAGR of 12% between 2019 and 2025, to reach $921 million in 2025 (IAB Audio Buyer’s Guide 22).


Another interesting aspect of the study looked at how consumers view the ads they consume on each medium. 60% of podcast listeners agree that they would go out of their way to favorite podcast, compared to 48% of TV watchers and 43% of radio listeners. You could credit the intimate, audio nature of podcasts for this finding, but couldn't the same be said of radio? How do podcasts achieve this? One possibility may be that podcast listeners are more likely to subscribe to premium, ad free content options across their media consumption. They are likely to use ad blockers when they browse the internet and pay for subscription services to escape ads. This could make them more receptive to the podcast ads that they consume as they are not bombarded with ads generally.

Respondents also said they’d be much more likely to buy something they hear advertised on a podcast (43%) than on TV (33%) or radio (26%).

Another reason for podcast ads achieving the highest brand support and consideration is that the best performing podcast ads are host-read. As the average podcast listener will often listen to most or all of the podcast, that’s a lot of time spent allowing a bond of trust to form with the host. Of course, the same could be said of radio, with some radio shows having the advantage of hosts that listeners have got to know for a much longer period of time. This is where the opt in aspect comes into play as podcast listeners can choose their favorite host rather than it coming onto their radio by default. Another factor that plays into this is relevancy.

Thanks to new innovations in programmatic advertising, podcasts can deliver more relevant ads to listeners. If you use programmatic advertising for your podcast, no two listeners will hear the same ads. Programmatic uses technology to fill podcast ad slots based on a listener’s browsing data and other data, making ads more contextually relevant.

Case Study

For example, The Queen Vic Market, an iconic Melbourne institution, created host-read pre and mid-roll ads that appeared on podcasts such as Imagined Life, Stories Podcast, Good Life Project and Business Wars. We were able to use some of the most high-profile podcast talents in the world for a highly localised campaign to showcase the benefits of shopping at the much-loved Melbourne market.

The ads were targeted at progressive, inner-urban professionals, and geo-targeted in the market’s catchment areas. When the target audience tunes in, the ads are dynamically inserted, increasing efficiency of the campaign and reducing wastage.

Multi-channel Buys

Traditional brands and marketers may still be nervous to invest in a relatively new medium and reluctant to stop investing in legacy media. However, the study also gave interesting insight into how podcasting enhances a TV or AM/FM buy with increased mid-and lower-funnel benefits. “Podcasts are emerging as a must-have complement to radio and TV.” says Jeff Vidler, Head of Signal Hill Insights.

The Medium Moves the Message demonstrates podcasting is an increasingly important addition to any TV or radio buy, especially in key advertiser demographics. Podcasts are joining the ranks of mass media, yet their personalized nature offers brands a targetability advantage over traditional media, while still offering ever-growing scale. To find out how to tap into this exciting industry, get in touch.


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