The ad tracking firm MediaRadar reviewed advertising in 500 top podcasts, across multiple content categories. According to the data, podcast advertising revenue increased 20% in 2021 versus a year earlier. The gains came as more marketers turned to podcasts. MediaRadar says its tally shows the number of companies purchasing podcast ads increased 14% in 2021. And it says the retention rate of companies returning to advertise in 2021 stood at 42%.
Advertising dollars followed listeners. MediaRadar says podcast listening hit an all-time high in 2021 with a majority 57% of the U.S. population reporting they had listened to at least one podcast.
“As podcasts’ consumption grows exponentially, brands are optimizing this medium to reach across their listeners,” said MediaRadar cofounder and CEO Todd Krizelman.
Host-read ads continue to be a dominant ad creative format, but MediaRadar’s data shows pre-recorded ads are making inroads. In 2020, 82% of Comedy genre podcast ads were host read. But that rate decreased to 66% in 2021. It was a similar story among True Crime podcasts where 59% of ads were host-read in 2021. That was down from 73% in 2020. There was less movement on News podcasts which in 2021 had the lowest rate of host-read ads within its programming at 35%.
All three genres had the most ads running as mid-rolls last year -- True Crime (58%), Comedy (52%) and News (56%). News podcasts included the shortest ad spots with 47% running 30-second spots. It was the reverse on True Crime and Comedy where 57% of spots were one minute or more.
With a heavy female reach, MediaRadar says True Crime podcasts exhibited 15% year-over-year growth in ad investment from more than a thousand different advertisers. It says mental health and counseling service advertisers were the most common on True Crime shows with the category’s spending up 57% last year on True Crime podcasts driven by brands like BetterHelp, which increased its ad spending 41% from 2020.
The analysis shows home security companies also leaned into the crime-laden podcasts.
Overall, MediaRadar says News podcasts had a 20% increase in ad revenue last year as the number of brands on those shows grew more than a third to top 1,400. Financial services companies upped their News podcast ad spending by 45% versus 2020. The biggest growth came from credit card companies (+212%) led by Bank of America, Capital One and American Express, with banks (+18%) and investment firms (+17%) also growing their podcast ad budgets.
MediaRadar also notes that financial services brands were not among the top ad categories for either True Crime or Comedy podcasts.
In fact, there was no single dominant ad category on Comedy podcasts. MediaRadar says counseling services, food subscription boxes, web design and software services, insurance, dietary supplements, and CBD brands were all among big users of Comedy shows. Overall, the Comedy genre had a 20% increase in ad spend last year as its roster of advertisers grew by more than a quarter from what it had in 2020.
One common big ad category among all three was Media & Entertainment, although it dipped slightly from 2020. MediaRadar says that may represent a “leveling out” after the pandemic led to a surge in ad spending in the segment. Even so, it was still the second-largest ad category for News podcasts.
Tech advertisers were also big across Comedy, News and True Crime podcasts. But there were different products marketed on different shows. On Comedy podcasts, the tech spenders focused on wearable tech, web design and development software – while on News podcasts the big tech ad spenders were cellular providers, which MediaRadar estimates spent nearly eight-times last year compared to 2020.
“With so many different types of podcasts available to suit your interests, there seems to be a podcast genre for every taste. As such, advertisers are strategically considering where their ad dollars are best spent that translates to a higher engagement rate and loyal audience base, especially within True Crime, News and Comedy podcasts,” said Krizelman. “It’s evident from our findings that these podcasts have seen substantial growth in the past year and continue to see ad spend increasing to cater to their audience.”