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Listeners Have A Message To Ad Buyers On Where To Put Their Commercials.


Marketers may have their preferred position for where podcast ads work best. The Interactive Advertising Bureau says mid-roll advertising continues to be the top source of industry revenue. In 2021, nearly two-thirds of podcast ad dollars were funneled into mid-roll ads, compared to about a third that went to pre-roll ads. But what do listeners think? Just-released data from MRI-Simmons finds 29% of podcast consumers prefer to hear the commercial before the show begins rather than in the middle of the episode.


Listener preference for where ads are located can have consequences for ad buyers. According to the annual MRI-Simmons Podcast Study, four in ten (39%) say they skip podcast ads because the commercial interrupts an important part of the episode. And one in five skips because the tone of the ad does not fit into the context of the show they are listening to.


Placement of the break is not, however, the biggest make-or-break for listeners. The MRI-Simmons study finds the length of the commercial interruption brings the biggest ad-skip risk as half of those surveyed said if the ad is too long, they reach for the controls. Half as many say they will skip if the ad is of poor quality.


A bigger issue is relevancy, with 42% of listeners surveyed saying they will skip if the commercial is for a something they don’t care about. And 22% will do so if they do not support the brand being marketed.


One bright spot in the data is that a vast majority of listeners say they listen to some commercials, although it is not universal. Nearly three in ten (27%) said they skip ads no matter what.


Beyond commercials, more than half – 54% – of podcast listeners say they financially support their favorite show. But in what may be a sign of a tougher economy, a growing acceptance of advertising, or a combination of the two, that is down four points from a year ago.


MRI-Simmons says the biggest reason that people do choose to financially support a podcast is to show their appreciation for the content. But while 36% cite that as their top reason, that number tumbled six points from last year. And there was a three percent drop in the number of people who say they subscribe to keep the podcast ad-free. This year, 28% cite that reason compared to 31% who said that last year. Others say they paid for a podcast to gain access to exclusive content (27%) or to be able to hear new episodes early (23%).


The MRI-Simmons Podcast Study shows nearly 72 million Americans have listened to a podcast in the past 30 days. That is up from 67 million last year. And while 28% say they listened to a podcast in the past 30 days – a 12% increase in the past two years – a quarter (24%) of those surveyed say they listened to a podcast in the past week.


The survey finds 87% listen to at least one podcast in a typical seven-day period as weekly podcast consumers average six hours of listening per week. But heavy podcast consumers – defined as listening to six or more shows each week – average 10 programs and 12 hours of listening time per week.


As media habits have changed post-pandemic, MRI-Simmons says the number of casual podcast listeners has grown while heavy consumers have declined. In its latest report, the research company says half of those surveyed listened to one or two shows a week, and about a third listen to three to five podcasts.


The profile of podcast listeners remained consistent from last year, however. The survey finds the ranks of heavy podcast listeners are 55% male; they tend to be younger with a median age of 38; they are better educated with 55% holding a bachelor’s degree; and they are more affluent with a median household income of $130,000.


Overall, MRI-Simmons says podcast listeners are heavy internet users, spending 33 hours a week online. They are heavy radio listeners too, consuming 17 hours of AM/FM during a typical week. Podcast listeners are also heavy social media users, spending as much time with social media as radio during an average seven-day period.


Those media habits help determine where podcast listeners discover new shows. Nearly four in ten say they find out about new podcasts from social media. And 15% credit ads on the radio for turning them on to new content. But like other surveys, MRI-Simmons says recommendations from others remains the biggest source of discovery. It says 39% say word-of-month is how they are most likely to find new shows.


The MRI-Simmons Podcast Study is based on survey data collected online between Feb. 16 and March 6 among 4,844 nationally representative adults aged 18 and older.

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