The year ended as it began, even with the traditional flood of holiday targeted advertisers. Better Help, the online mental health service provider, remained podcasting’s biggest advertiser during December. Despite trimming its budget by five percent from a month earlier, Magellan AI estimates it spent more than $8.2 million, making it the largest advertiser for a 16th consecutive month. Better Help bought ads on 764 shows, with the biggest share going to podcasts in the catchall Society & Culture genre.
Looking to capitalize on holiday gift-giving, Amazon raised its spending nine percent month-to-month to an estimated $3.5 million on 988 podcasts. That was on top of a 77% jump for its ad budget in November. The increase pushed Amazon up to second place in December as SimpliSafe slid back to third place as it cut is spending 22% compared to a month earlier. Express VPN increased its spend by 18% to $3 million, rising to fourth. While HelloFresh cut its ad budget by five percent to $2.3 million but rose to fifth place.
A new addition to Magellan’s top ten was Meta – the former Facebook – which finished at No. 6 with $2.1 million in advertising. Meta spent its ad dollars on 729 podcasts, most of which were in the Society & Culture category.
Magellan says NBCUniversal was once again the brand that turned up on the biggest number of podcasts last month. Its estimated $1.9 million in ad spending was spread across 1,153 different shows – compared to 1,012 different podcasts used a month earlier. Comedy series continued to be where most of NBCUniversal’s ad dollars went.
Overall, Magellan estimates the top 15 podcast advertisers spent a combined $35.05 million in December. That compares to the $40.59 million that the top 15 advertisers spent in the medium in November, or a 14% decrease month-to-month.
Magellan’s list of movers and shakers – the brands that increased their podcast spending during the month – was led in December by Candy Crush Saga, which spent $992,000 last month on podcasts after spending nothing a month earlier.
But a more interesting entry comes at No. 2 where Pfizer-BioNTech appears. It spent $722,000 on podcast ads last month after the FDA granted full approval of their coronavirus vaccine. With that approval, Pfizer-BioNTech gained the ability to advertise the vaccine. Magellan says Pfizer promoted their drugs Eucrisa and Ibrance in 2021 but Magellan AI first detected Comirnaty and the joint Pfizer-BioNTech branded ads last month. The brand awareness ads were most concentrated in the sports genre and can be heard on Irish Breakdown and Jim Cornette’s Drive Through.
The fast-food chain KFC also delivered a 427% increase in its podcast spending last month after it rolled out a new order-ahead service in an effort to decrease the time consumers typically spend waiting in a drive-thru line. Magellan says in its monthly update that it first detected the brand in October 2018 but their investment in the channel has remained low in the years since. Prior to last month – when it spent $145,000 on podcast ads – KFC’s spend was highest in March 2021 when they promoted a new chicken sandwich. Last month Magellan said KFC’s brand awareness ads were most highly concentrated in the TV & Film genre. The ads averaged :38 and were split between pre- and mid-roll ads.
The end of the year also brought a rise in spending from GiveWell, the nonprofit that assesses and recommends charities. It had a 1,213% increase in spend between November and December in 2021. But more importantly, Magellan points out that its investment last month was nearly four-times higher than a year ago. The ads were most detected in the News, Business, Society & Culture genres. The direct-response ads featured a call to action to have donations matched by entering the podcast name at the time of donation.
Magellan analyzes podcast advertising data from the top 3,000 podcasts in the U.S., as ranked by Apple Podcasts. Magellan’s proprietary model is used to estimate advertising spend. It includes factors such as the number of ads and variation in ad load detected for a given episode, number of downloads for each episode, and estimated CPMs as reported in select media kits and estimated based on popularity.