The Interactive Advertising Bureau has forecast podcast industry advertising will reach one billion dollars in 2021. It is giving that goal a shot in the arm this week at its annual Brand Disruption Summit, presenting podcasting as an audio media disruptor that should be given closer scrutiny in media planning.
For much of its existence, podcasting has been hampered by a shortage of data and targeting capabilities, resulting in lost revenue opportunities. But that has quickly changed as a flurry of third-party companies have moved in. The effort to ease ad buyers into the medium got a boost last year with the launch of the Nielsen Podcast Buying Power Service. It added podcast questions to the data already collected among about 200,000 U.S. adults in Nielsen’s Scarborough consumer research service. The research company re-contacts anyone who reports they listen to podcasts to ask them about their listening behavior. It then takes the responses and links it back to the rest of the information collected.
Tony Hereau, VP of Cross Platform Insights at Nielsen, said they end up with a sample of more than 35,000 adults who listen to podcasts that allow Nielsen to match up their habits with brands and more than two thousand consumer behaviors. “That’s where we are getting lots of brand detail,” he said. “There are also specific brand names that we can query against our podcast listening behavior.” Nielsen also asks how often people listen to podcasts, which shows they consume, listening location and platforms used, among other metrics.
Rachel Roberts, Senior Marketing Manager for the deodorant brand Native, said making that first move into podcasting can be “kind of scary” for a lot of brands. “Podcasts are harder to track, but when we have data like Nielsen’s we feel a lot more confident about what we are doing and make sure we are testing [podcast ads] in a smart way,” said Roberts.
Native primarily targets women 25-54 as well as men. Working with Veritone One, Native was able to dig into Nielsen data to show that podcasts reach 27.1 million women in its core demo, plus 28.5 million men. And while guys listened to seven episodes a week averaging more than eight hours, women listed to four as they dedicated about five hours to the medium. Using the data, it was also able to discover that despite being an eco-friendly brand, it did not require its ads be on Health & Wellness and Fitness category podcasts.
“Actually, our audience over-indexes in the Arts genre and music,” said Roberts. And when it comes to reaching men, Native found that it does not mean just Tech and Business category shows. “Our male audience also indexes in the History genre and Society & Culture,” she said. So that is where Native headed during its first podcast advertising test.
“We have been on podcast for a year and a half and it’s been great. The channel has been super effective for us. We see great return on ad spend and we have built out this roster of shows that we know we can rely on,” said Roberts. Based on that success, she said Native recently decided to allocate more marketing dollars to podcasts that cost more and expanded its podcast buys to include NPR in 2021.
Edison Research data this summer found that digital audio tipped to a majority with a 53% Share of Ear, compared to 47% for traditional analog audio. Brad Grealy, Head of U.S. Client Partnerships at Spotify, told the IAB conference the data backs up other research suggesting there has been a faster acceleration toward digital media this year.
“Trends are changing very quickly, and people are streaming more audio than ever before,” he said. “Listening has doubled since 2012 and weekly streaming is at a record high, averaging about 17-hours per week, or about two-and-a-half hours per day.” Grealy credits not only the new ways to listen for the growth, but also a wider range of content to select from. “I believe the data is going to be even more favorable towards digital audio toward the end of the year,” he predicted.
Grealy shared some internal survey data among Spotify users conducted in August that showed 62% said they were streaming more music and 29% were streaming more podcasts. “People looked at podcasts to be inspired, be educated or they want to be entertained,” he said. “It’s interesting how podcast listening mirrors culture and what’s going on in the world.”