In many ways it feels like the radio era is back—except we’re not listening to broadcast radio like our parents and grandparents did—we’re listening to podcasts. According to the New York Times, more than half of people in the United States have listened to a podcast, and nearly one out of three people listen to at least one every month. From true crime, to politics, to exercise, in the podcast world there is something for everyone—and that’s why they’re so important to the world of advertising.
Advertising is playing a big role in the podcasting industry, and vice versa. A study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PwC on advertising revenue in podcasting reveals that podcast ads brought in $479 million in 2018, and estimates that number will grow to $1 billion by 2021.
The reason more companies are investing advertising dollars into podcasts: it actually works. IAB reports that 67 percent of podcast listeners could recall products and brands featured in podcast ads. Even better: 61 percent actually paid for a product or service they learned about on podcasts. The convenience of podcasts means that advertisers can reach people during their daily errands or on their commute. The intimacy of podcast audio makes listeners feel like they have a relationship with the hosts and ensures whatever new information they’re learning sticks. Podcast hosts manage to build a strong, trusting relationship with their listeners that benefit the brands sponsoring the different episodes.
Another benefit of advertising through podcasts: easier audience targeting. The huge variety of podcast topics allows advertisers to hyper-target specific demographics of listeners. This is a win-win situation, because advertisers are able to target their specific audience and the listeners get to hear about products/services that they are actually interested in buying.
Both B2C and B2B companies have had success advertising through podcasts. MailChimp is an example of a success story from the earlier days of podcast advertising in 2014. MailChimp sponsored the first season of a nonfiction podcast called “Serial”—and that investment paid off when 31 million episodes were downloaded and MailChimp’s unique ad went viral. Another example: ZipRecruiter, an American employment marketplace for job seekers and employers, is one of the leaders in podcast advertising. ZipRecruiter has managed to build smart partnerships with podcasts like “Rise and Grind,” hosted by famous “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John. “ZipRecruiter is all about finding good employees and good people and Rise and Grind is all about that, too,” says John. “Because how do you have someone work for you who doesn’t believe in those types of things? Who doesn’t get up and bust their ass every day? So, ZipRecruiter was a natural fit as a sponsor.”
However you feel about podcasts, they appear poised for good, long run in our lives; with advertisers, as usual, chasing not far behind. Maybe someday this era will be known as the “The Golden Age of Podcasts,” and you’ll have a story to tell your grand kids.