Ad Results Media has results for its 14-month study examining the optimal number of ads in a spot break. The conclusion is that fewer ads tend to perform better, with commercial breaks that have five or more ads seeing a significant drop-off in performance. The ad agency says its study reveals podcast ads performed best when there were only two ads in a commercial break. They performed 12% better than breaks that included three or four ads according to ARM. There was no significant difference in performance in ad breaks with three or four ads.
The analysis looked at over $80 million in ad spend and compared performance among commercial breaks of varying lengths. “Overall, our study suggests that advertisers should aim for no more than 2-4 ads per commercial break in order to maximize ad performance,” says ARM, which is among the biggest audio ad buying agencies with clients including big podcast users such as BetterHelp, ZipRecruiter, Fan Duel, Allbirds, and Stamps.com.
Podcast ad breaks tend to be shorter than on commercial radio, but in situations where the interruptions lasted as long as five or more commercials, the campaign’s performance suffered. ARM says ad breaks with five commercials perform 30% worse than those with three or four ads, and 46% worse than those with two ads. On a cost per acquisition metric, the analysis shows the average CPA for commercials in a six-ad break was more than double that of breaks with just two commercials.
Among the possible explanations for the worsening performance with more ads according to ARM is listeners may become fatigued with too many ads and they start to tune out the ads or skip them altogether. There is also the risk that listeners may perceive the podcast as being more commercial and less valuable if it has too many ads.
“These findings suggest that podcast listeners are more likely to skip or ignore ads when there are too many of them,” ARM says in a blog post detailing the findings. “When there are only two ads in a break, listeners are more likely to give each ad their full attention. This leads to better ad recall and conversion rates.”
Ad Results Media’s latest report follows research it released last year that included some warnings for podcasters. Working with Edison Research it released a survey of so-called super listeners, or those that reported listening to podcasts for five or more hours per week. The results showed that more than one in five (22%) super listeners agree there are “way too many” ads on podcasts, which was more than twice the 10% who said that in 2019. And 59% of super-listeners said last year that they had detected a rise in the number of ads on podcasts they listen to, with the same number saying it is important for them to limit their exposure to advertising.
The silver lining in the ad data was that podcast’s super listeners think that the ads they are being served are more relevant than in the past. They also said they are more willing to consider products and services of podcast advertisers than other media, including three-quarters that have visited a website based on a podcast ad and two-thirds that have considered or purchased a product based on a podcast ad.