Carmakers are among the biggest ad spenders, but the automotive category remains relatively small for podcasters. The latest Interactive Advertising Bureau report shows the category contributed just 2% of podcast industry revenue in 2019, the same as in 2018. But for the car companies that do use podcast to spread their message, the medium has become a secret marketing weapon.
The appeal for carmakers, it turns out, is similar to what a lot of other marketers have discovered – the ability to use host-read ads to help get their message through in an unobtrusive way. Phil Hruska, American Honda's manager of media strategy, told Automotive News it is why they used iHeartPodcast Network’s Stuff You Should Know to promote the CR-V Hybrid during 30-second and 60-second pre-show and mid-show host-read ads. "The reads were scripted in-line with the tone of the podcasts, highlighting key features of the CR-V to fit naturally within each of the episodes," he said. There is also reach at play with Stuff You Should Know reaching more than 30 million people.
It is a similar strategy for Chrysler which, in an effort to reach young parents with ads for its Pacifica minivan, has embraced advertising on podcasts such as Anna Faris is Unqualified and Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend. Chrysler reps told Automotive News that podcasting offers "more flexibility” and “a more meaningful message” when host-read ads are used, as well as benefitting from the host's personal experience.
“The brand's sponsored ad reads are always informative yet conversational, matching the feel of the episode,” said the Chrysler statement, adding, "The host shares the latest features for the Pacifica, while also adding their own experience and reactions to the Chrysler Pacifica minivan's features in their own words.”
According to a new analysis conducted using Nielsen’s Podcast Listener Buying Power service, some 35.8 million people were shopping online for vehicles at the height of stay-at-home restrictions in the U.S., and 10.5 million of them were listening to podcasts. Those engaged podcast fans represent a $302 billion opportunity for marketers and advertisers. “As the future of auto consumption unfolds, more and more marketers are finding out that podcasts might just be the next great advertising frontier,” Nielsen said.
Podcasting’s growing popularity and audience engagement offer marketers “significant opportunities” to reach engaged car buyers, Nielsen concluded in a report released this month. Its study this year found that 50% of internet vehicle shoppers visited a website for more information about a product after hearing about it on a podcast, which is five percentage points higher than the average podcast listener. Similarly, more internet vehicle shoppers (26%) visited a website to purchase/order the product advertised than did the average podcast listener (23%).
The report found Comedy podcasts had the most appeal to auto shoppers, with other categories such as News, Society & Culture, Business, and Education also showing promise for car advertising.