No two podcasts are alike but as the industry becomes a go-to medium for ad buyers, Nielsen is working to create some benchmarks to show marketers the effectiveness of podcasting. It has compiled data from 325 studies to capture key metrics such as how familiar podcast listeners are with a brand. Here are the seven big takeaways from what Nielsen found about advertising and its relationship with podcast content.
Listeners Like The Hosts
Nielsen asked podcast listeners what they felt about show hosts. Overall, two-thirds (68%) rated the talent as either “excellent” or “very good.” Nielsen said 61% gave hosts high marks on being likable, while 42% found hosts highly credible and 38% gave them high scores for being relatable.
Midroll Ads Have More Impact On Content
Nielsen analyzed the impact ad placement has on the content of a show by exposing listeners with five to eight minutes of audio with a brand either placed at the beginning of the content or in the middle. “Both are really effective in the podcast space, but our analysis shows us that exposure to the midroll ad yields stronger content scores,” said Arica McKinnon, VP of Client Consulting at Nielsen.
The data showed 64% of those exposed to a midroll ad said they wanted to seek similar content in the future. That was five percent higher than a pre-roll ad. When it asked whether they intended to share a podcast, there was a 3% lift compared to those exposed to a pre-roll ad.
The Ad Message Gets Through
Even though it is easy to skip commercials in podcasts, producers say they see few people doing so. One result is the advertising message is being absorbed. “Exposure to podcast advertising increased awareness,” said McKinnon. During a webinar last week she said Nielsen found across all its studies awareness went up by an average 12% among people who said they were either “extremely” or “very” aware of a brand. But in some cases it is even higher, with a 41% jump for one emerging online retailer compared to those not exposed to an ad. There was also an average 7% increase in people who said they planned to seek more information about a brand and a 5% gain among listeners who said they either planned to purchase or recommend a brand.
Midroll Ads Help Marketers Too
It is not just podcast creators that benefit from running ads mid-show. Nielsen said its analysis found that such ad placement also helped marketers. On average, three-quarters of listeners exposed to a midroll ad said they thought a technology brand ad was a good fit with the podcast content. That is five points higher than for pre-roll ads. It is a similar story in the consumer package goods category where 60% of those exposed to a midroll ad said they planned to seek similar content in the future.
Longer The Ad, The Better The Lift
Nielsen said longer ads had stronger lifts, with the biggest impact on metrics such as purchase intent where there was a 40% increase for ads that ran between one minute and two-and-a-half minutes compared to those that are less than a minute in length.
“The longer the ad, the more time the host or announcer has to clearly convey the features, the benefits and the qualities of product or service that they’re pitching,” said McKinnon. “They also have more time to explicitly mention the brand name throughout the ad, driving higher recall scores.” In addition, the data showed the more times the brand is mentioned, the better it did to lift brand recall scores.
But Too Long Isn’t Good Either
Nielsen said it also discovered a “paradox” with host-rating scores declining slightly when an ad goes past the one-minute mark. The “sweet spot” for ads seems to be in the :30- to :60-second range. “All ads work in the podcast space and they all have varying benefits depending on your approach and your objective,” said McKinnon. “But we recommend avoiding overloading an episode with long ads because you don’t want to fatigue your audience and impact your host-rating scores.”
Host-Read Ads Do Better
The Nielsen data shows that although announcer-read ads do work, host-read ads resulted in better ad recall and scored better on most metrics that marketers care most about. “On average, host-read ads resulted in 71% of listeners being able to recall the brand which is great,” said McKinnon. Host-read ads scored 50% better on purchase intent and recommendation intent, and 60% on the metric that measured whether the listener would seek out information about the product. The data also shows host-read ads are seem a better fit with the podcast content. Nielsen found that 66% said an ad read by the host seemed in tune with the host they were listening to, versus 62% for announcer-read ads.