The podcast industry did more than endure the unusual business climate last year. It thrived as advertisers and listeners continued to embrace on-demand audio. AdsWizz, the digital audio advertising company owned by SiriusXM, has released its annual Podcast Trends Report which shows that among the publishers and podcasters it works with there was an 81% increase in advertising impressions between January and September 2020.
“Podcasts, audio’s digital darling, also saw phenomenal growth in 2020,” the report said. “All signs are pointing to podcasts playing a bigger part in the overall audio buying ecosystem.”
The report offers a mix of internal AdWizz data and surveys it conducted among advertisers and publishers. “The News genre, unsurprisingly, is where advertisers found audiences this year,” said the report.
Based on data from 20 major brands and agencies, AdsWizz said podcasts now represent 19% of digital audio buys. “Since COVID-19, 64% of advertisers are spending more or about the same in podcasts – with more coming,” its survey showed.
When asked how they thought their company or client's podcast advertising strategy would be different in 2021, half of buyers predicted that their podcast spending would increase by at least 25% while 18% said their podcast spend will increase by 50% or more. Nearly two-thirds said podcast advertising would become a significant portion of their audio buys in 2021.
One element that could boost ad spending is making programmatic buying easier. Already 23% of buyers said they are placing digital audio ads programmatically. And among those that aren’t, 60% said they expect do so by the end of this year. “It could be said that advertisers are eager for advancements in podcast advertising technology to help them expand and enhance the ways they touch their audiences,” the report said.
Yet even with the high-tech buying platforms, human nature is still a force. For all the oddities of 2020, one constant that remained was at the end of each quarter buyers embraced a “use it or lose it” attitude with their budgets. “So, podcasters, get ready to see fresh waves of demand at the end of each quarter,” AdsWizz said.
Podcasters Focused On Growth
The report also draws on data from Simplecast, the podcast hosting platform that SiriusXM bought last June making it a sister division to AdsWizz. It reported the number of new podcasts hit a monthly record last March during the start of the COVID lockdowns.
“Shelter-in-place orders expanding across multiple states likely played a role. More creators staying home may mean they have more free time to invest in creative endeavors,” the report said.
AdsWizz data backs that up. The company reported there were two “significant bumps” last year with a 28% increase in April 2020 in available podcast inventory at the beginning of shelter in place orders and a growth rate of 51% between January and September.
In the months since the pandemic began, 36% of podcasters said they have launched more episodes or debuted new shows. “These creators aren’t just shouting into the void. They are finding and retaining an audience, despite 2020’s many upheavals,” the report says. Two-thirds of the podcasters they surveyed said they have found more listeners since the COVID pandemic began, compared to 9% that reported losing listeners.
As part of the report, AdsWizz surveyed independent podcasters. It found they will use the momentum of the past year to push for more growth in 2021. Half (49%) anticipate releasing more episodes or new shows this year, while 46% expect their production level will remain about the same. Just five percent predict they will scale back production this year.
The biggest worry for creators is coming up with ways to grow their show, something cited by six in ten surveyed. That compares to two in ten that said their biggest worry is monetizing their podcast. “Of the creators surveyed who were not currently monetizing their show, only 16% said figuring out monetization kept them up at night. And of those who were currently monetizing, monetization concerns kept 27% of them up at night,” the report said.
When asked how they measure success, downloads still reign supreme. A majority (54%) of podcasters said that metric is most important to them compared to roughly a third who said their unique listener numbers were the most critical metric. Just 8% said completion rate.
Download the full AdsWizz report HERE.