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How Do Advertisers Decide Where To Place Podcast Ads? Survey Points To Quality Of Shows.


Seven in ten advertisers and ad agencies surveyed by Sounds Profitable say they plan to increase their podcast ad spending this year, even though budgets are under more scrutiny. Another 23% will hold the line on what was spent last year. But the new research on advertiser perceptions of podcasting comes with bigger revelations on how marketers are approaching podcasting, including what drives them to use the audio format.


The survey finds a majority (51%) of advertisers who are either currently buying podcast ads or who have done so in the past point to brand awareness as one of the driving factors behind that decision. Nearly as many – 47% – say audience engagement is important to them.


“Brand awareness may not necessarily be the number one goal for a lot of buyers. But the buyers that we have are very committed to podcasting,” said Sounds Profitable Partner Tom Webster. During a presentation Wednesday, he said that is largely driven by the success experienced by some key clients. “For those brands that have made their name in podcasting, they have absolutely been able to move the needle in brand awareness,” Webster said.


The survey finds that nearly half (48%) of those surveyed think podcasts are one of the best media channels for raising a brand’s awareness, double that of radio (24%) while trailing streaming music (52%). Based on that brand focus, the survey finds that a third of buyers use brand lift as the criteria to evaluate if their campaign worked.


Host-read ads remain one of podcasting’s biggest selling points with marketers. Sounds Profitable says more than half (55%) of the ad buyers it surveyed have used the format, while 58% have used announcer or producer-read ads.


But because most publishers offer host-reads, the ad format is less a consideration when deciding where marketers place their buys. While one in five said host-read availability is a factor, pricing (32%) and audience size (31%) are cited by nearly a third. The overriding factor is the quality of the creative, which 45% say is the biggest reason they go with one publisher over another, followed by its ability offer audience targeting (38%).


Webster said that quality of the ad creative is more critical to agencies than advertisers by a 51% to 39% margin.


“Publishers and networks need to continue developing creative services to develop more of an offering internally for creative campaigns that are tied to the shows that they're working with,” Webster said. “That's absolutely a competitive advantage. And it also makes use of the medium in ways that simply rerunning radio creative cannot.”


The survey also shows efforts by the industry to get across the message to buyers that they can avoid risqué content are working. Eight in ten buyers say they are comfortable with brand safety and suitability in podcasting. The numbers show buyers are also generally satisfied with targeting tools, although there is less agreement on whether the medium is easy to buy. And measurement is a sticking point for many.


“Ad tech is the biggest challenge for podcasting right now,” Webster said. But he thinks that a lot of the developments may have gone unnoticed by ad buyers and an educational effort to help change that perception is needed. “Third-party tracking and targeted podcast buying are helping solve some of these problems,” Webster said. In fact, the survey showed 46% of buyers have already used third-party tools to target audiences with podcast ads.


Podcasting’s success in attracting more brands has also delivered more ads, and with it has come the question of ad clutter. Among buyers surveyed, 61% think podcasting remains an uncluttered ad environment. But 19% said that’s not the case anymore.


The wide-ranging survey also looked at why some are not buying podcast ads in 2023. Among those that are skipping podcasts, 42% say they have no demand for clients or brands to buy the format. Plus 36% said their previous podcast campaigns were unsuccessful, while the same number blamed high CPMs. Among those buyers that have never purchased a podcast ad, one in four blame a lack of ad effectiveness and delivery measurement tools.


Webster sees that as a wakeup call for the podcasting industry.


“Many brand marketers are simply unaware of the advances – the podcasting technology, the targeting and measurement, all of the things that we have done over the last five years,” he said. “I think job number one for many of us is to get out there.”


The survey, which Sounds Profitable produced with Signal Hill Insights and Digiday, is based on data collected from 304 buyers in May and June. Download the report HERE.

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