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More Ads For Podcasts? Listeners Have Some Thoughts On That.

Good production, good writing, personal endorsements, and ads that are embedded into the content are all some of the ways that new research is showing can help overcome what remains a natural tendency to avoid advertising by many audio consumers. “There is a huge upside if you do the commercials well” NuVoodoo President Carolyn Gilbert said at the Podcast Futures conference Wednesday in New York.

A survey conducted by NuVoodoo points to the challenge that podcasters face when it comes to advertising at a time when demands of growing revenue run up against listener expectations. It finds that a majority 54% of listeners think there are too many commercials in some podcasts. But an even bigger warning comes from the data among the so-called super listeners that consume more podcasts. The survey finds among people who spend 10 hours or more a week listening to podcasts, nearly two-thirds (63%) think there are too many ads. And among those who listen for between four and ten hours per week, 57% agreed.

How people respond to the ads is driven in part to the commercials themselves. NuVoodoo EVP of Research Analysis Leigh Jacobs said four in ten listeners said they stuck with the ad when the hosts were given some freedom to joke around a bit during the spot.

Overall, three in ten (28%) podcast listeners typically listen to the commercials. The medium also seems to run counter to the notion that men are hard to reach since NuVoodoo says it is women, not men, who were more likely to skip ads across all age groups Yet skipping is not as common as one might expect despite the ease of which it can be done. The survey found 12% said they skip through all podcast ads, with 16% saying they skip – but only when the ads are pre-recorded.

Despite some podcast listeners skipping over the ads, the medium continues to show it delivers results for marketers. Among those NuVoodoo surveyed, 38% said they had been influenced to make a purchase based on a commercial they heard on a podcast. That includes 12% who used a discount code they heard mentioned.

Frequency also works in advertisers’ favor too – but it is the frequency of listening, not how many times the ad runs, that may matter most. “The more acclimated they are to being podcast listeners, the more likely they are to feeling comfortable transacting something because they heard it on the podcast,” Jacobs said.

NuVoodoo data shows a third (34%) of people who listen to ten or more hours of podcasts each week have bought something they heard advertised on a show compared to 22% of those who listen for between one and four hours per week. There is a similar 18% to 8% gap in the use of promo codes between the two groups.

“Podcasting has a way of engaging people and eliciting trust from people that other media may not have,” Gilbert added.

The data presented dovetails with an earlier data release at Podcast Movement in August. Half of those surveyed said they are interested in True Crime and Comedy podcasts, but the data shows that podcast listeners overall crave shows on just about every topic, with money management, news, sports, health and fitness, and self-help, among the most sought after shows. “There is opportunity in each and every one of these verticals, bar none,” said Jacobs.

The personal connection listeners have with podcast may be why 70% of those surveyed had a critique of what they have heard with poor audio quality, commercial volume, and content repetition among their complains.

“People notice that stuff,” Gilbert told podcasters. She said their data also shows that even with more people consuming shows on smart speakers, podcast remains a “solidary experience” for the most part. Nevertheless, heavier users listen in more places overall – half listen in the car – so that may help spur the growth of co-listening in the years go come.

Jacobs said the data also has a warning for the industry as 45% of people report they are talking less about podcasts with friends and family than in the past – with an even bigger drop-off among people who listen the most.

“Podcasting so desperately needs a Serial-sized cultural hit right now to force that conversation back up to the surface,” he said.

NuVoodoo surveyed 5,010 Americans aged 14-57. The sample included 1,691 people who said they regularly listened to a podcast for one or more hours each week. Millennials make up 55% of the sample, including 36% that was Millennial males.

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