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How Long Should A Podcast Ad Be? Analysis Points To A Brand’s Goal As Deciding Factor.

Half of the podcast ads sold in 2020 were longer than 30-seconds and 16% were more than a minute in length according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. A new study finds that those ads probably did better than the 9% of ads that were 15-seconds or less.

SiriusXM Media – the new umbrella group that includes the advertising teams of Stitcher/Midroll, Pandora and SiriusXM – enlisted Signal Hill Insights to conduct a brand lift study to look at whether the conventional wisdom that longer ads perform better is actually true. Paul Riismandel, Midroll Media’s Senior Director of Marketing and Insights, detailed their findings in an advertorial published in Adweek. He says the data shows the duration of a commercial matters, but whether longer is needed depends on the brand’s objective with the spot.

To test the theory, Signal Hill assembled a panel of 575 podcast listeners in March. They heard either an episode of Hidden Brain or Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations. During that 30-minute episode they were exposed to either a 15-second, 30-second or 60-second announcer-read ad for Xfinity xFi – a spot that was produced by Pandora’s Studio Resonate. Another panel of 189 heard one of the same episodes, but without advertising. At the end of the episode, participants took a survey, asking them about what they heard.

Signal Hill found nearly half (46%) of the listeners who heard the 15-second creative could remember the brand without prompting. Riismandel says the15-second spot also generated a statistically significant lift of 13 points in brand awareness for Xfinity xFi, compared to listeners who did not hear an ad. He says the 30-second and 60-second ads also performed equally well, each with significant 11-point lifts in brand awareness.

But rather than conclude shorter ads are better for clients – and arguably for listeners – the Signal Hill data points to variations in how the ads achieve an advertiser’s objective. The data shows short works just fine for so-called top of the purchase funnel metrics like awareness and interest, while longer spots performed best for lower funnel metrics such as consideration and action.

“Compared to those who heard no ad, significantly more listeners exposed to the 60-second creative agreed with all five of the Xfinity xFi features and benefits contained in the spot,” Riismandel writes in the post. “This group of listeners was also significantly more likely to say they would visit the brand’s website to learn more. Overall, the 60-second ad beat out the two shorter formats in these lower-funnel metrics.”

The bottom line, he says, is the analysis both confirms and upends the idea that longer is always better. Shorter ads are just fine sometimes, meaning not all buyers need to pick the longer mid-roll spots over what are typically shorter pre- and post-roll ad positions. And Riismandel says a well-optimized podcast ad campaign should probably use both, to motivate audiences not just to be aware of a brand, but to then consider it and make a purchase.

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