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  • Writer's pictureRanieri & Co.

Unlocking Podcasting's Future: Top Insights from the 2024 IAB Podcast Upfront

This May, the annual IAB Podcast Upfront event took place, bringing together publishers, brands, agencies, and media buyers to explore the latest insights and innovations in the podcast industry. With 135 million monthly listeners in the U.S. and nearly 100 million tuning in weekly, podcast listenership remains robust, and content continues to diversify. (iAB 2024). Industry leaders from as Wondery, iHeartMedia, ABC News and Paramount presented across themes of innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to unlocking the full potential of podcasting as an advertising medium. Here are our top learnings and insights from the event and what they can tell us about the future of the Australian industry including revenue figures for 2023 and 2024, the power of social media for podcast discovery and its role in “vodcasting”, AI’s capability for measurement and targeting, the success of sports podcasts and some exciting new shows launching this year.

  1. 2024 set for a comeback

The iAB’s annual U.S. podcast advertising revenue report for 2023  has found that after years of double-digit growth, podcast ad revenues grew at a slower pace in 2023, up 5% year over year to $1.9 billion. That’s compared to a 26% growth in 2022 in last year’s report, partly due to digital advertising spend being down across the board given economic uncertainty. As the leading podcast market, the US tends to be indicative of trends in Australia.

However, podcasting is projected to return to double-digit growth (12%), with revenues of over $2B this year, and on track to reach nearly $2.6 billion by 2026.

Whilst podcasting is certainly popular, the event touched on its potential for further growth, pointing out that 1 in 3 Americans have never listened to a podcast. Some audiences (and advertisers to follow) are just starting to come to the space, with massive potential for growth.

The potential for diverse and bespoke ad formats are also evolving beyond basic pre-rolls and mid-rolls. Live podcasting, branded episodes, experiential activations, and social media integration are increasingly utilized to create a more immersive and engaging brand experience for listeners.

  1. The power of Vodcasting and social media for podcast discovery

Nick Viall, Host, The Viall Files spoke about “The Magic of Podcasting: How Brands are Finding Success with the Right Podcast Partners.” Viall noted that he has always considered both audio and video equally to be crucial from the start. Vodcasting offers a clear advantage by allowing shows like his to market themselves and expand their reach through short clips shared on social media. Fans also create their own clips to share on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, leading to an episode with nearly 2 million downloads generating 1.4 billion impressions across the Internet. And with that reach, more advertisers are seeing the clear ROI.

“People will take our assets and they’ll create it into something else and it becomes this kind of domino trickle down effect and that has been invaluable” Viall said. “There’s still a market out there [of people] who are interested in your content that might not necessarily take the time to listen to your two-hour episode.”

The line between podcasts and traditional media is blurring as hit podcasts become TV series and video shows add podcast elements. Wondery, for example, has partnered with Peacock, AppleTV, FX, and Amazon MGM Studios, highlighting the trend of cross-platform storytelling and the growing influence of podcasts.

  1. AI opens up more sophisticated measurement and ad buying tools 

Technology is catching up to the sheer volume of content in the digital audio space. Artificial intelligence is starting to transform the industry through innovative targeting methods, dynamic audience optimization, and personalized ad creative. One of the most important ways is through using AI transcription analysis which has dramatically improved brand safety and suitability assessments by analyzing context beyond isolated words, opening doors for more advertisers.

Advertisers can also get deep insights on ad effectiveness through Wondery’s premium podcasts — the company was acquired by Amazon in 2020. Ads on its podcasts can now be managed through the Amazon DSP, and measurement of purchases resulting from ads will soon be available. 

AI can also be used to track trends efficiently. According to Magellan AI, there is a surge in returning advertiser investment, with the ten largest podcast advertisers increasing their spend in the medium by nearly 50% last year alone. 

  1. Sports Podcasts are trending

Sports podcasting is experiencing explosive growth in listenership and advertiser investment. Sports podcast overtook news podcasts in 2022 to take the number one revenue genre representing 15% of the market, followed by society and culture as well as comedy both representing 14% with news following at 12%(IAB 2023). Popularity is driven by sports fans’ passionate and engaged nature and the explosion in sports content supply. Comedy and sports remain the top genres, with news, society, and culture following close behind

5. Exciting new shows coming this year

The following new shows are launching in 2024, set to bring in new and bigger audiences:

  • Co-hosted by Woody Harrelson and Ted Danson called “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” and slated to debut on June 12.

  • Paramount announced a new weekly Comedy Central podcast hosted by Jon Stewart

  • ESPN and Good Karma Brands will release a sports podcast, narrated by “The X-Files” star David Duchovny, and focused on the story of hockey player Hobey Baker.

  • Latinx podcast network Sonoro is partnering with Suma on a financial literacy podcast and with Funny Or Die on new shows. Additionally, Mario Lopez, Eric Winter, and Camila Victoriano will develop podcast franchises for Sonoro

The 2024 IAB Podcast Upfront reminded us of podcasting’s continuing success and expansion. As the industry matures, there are numerous success stories in pioneering storytelling and advertising integration, yet the medium is still relatively untapped, with great continued potential for growth. To find out more, plus insights, and commentary on the growing podcast industry, sign up to our newsletter or feel free to contact us anytime.


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