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Podcast Ad Spending Rose 39% In Q1, Magellan AI Analysis Shows.

After a slow start to the year, podcast advertising picked up in March and by the end of the first quarter Magellan AI says spending jumped 39% versus a year ago. The first quarter is typically one of the quieter periods of the year for marketers, and that was true in 2024 as spending during the first three months of 2024 was 7% less than what was spent in the ad-heavy Q4.

Magellan AI’s quarterly benchmarking report shows that based on its estimates the top 10 advertisers during Q1 spent $110 million. BetterHelp was the top spender, investing an estimated $24.6 million into podcast ads. It was followed by Amazon, which spent $15.6 million, and the online gaming company VGW, the company behind such games as Chumba Casino, Luckyland Slots, and Global Poker, which spent $13.4 million, according to estimates. Magellan AI says six of the top ten advertisers were repeats from Q4, with two new first-time entrants: MGM Resorts International, which spent $7.4 million, and Oracle, which spent $6.9 million.

The wide appeal of podcasting, and the range of shows available for marketers to select from, continues to attract brands to audio that may have shied away from radio in the past. Magellan says the fastest-growing ad category during Q1 was hair care, with spending up 54% quarter-to-quarter. Powered by Meta, the social networking category ad spending rose 38%. Some major ad categories also had solid gains. Magellan says the beverage category had an estimated $19.4 million in combined ad spending, which was nearly a third (31%) higher than during Q4.

It was not just spending that was on the rise during Q1. So were ad loads, continuing a trend that began last year. Magellan says average ad loads across 109,000 episodes sampled increased 9% between the fourth and first quarters. And they were up 50% from a year ago. Magellan says among its sample, 8.36% of episode time went to advertising compared to 7.68% in Q4 and 5.56% a year earlier.

Among the major show genres examined, Magellan says all had increased average ad loads. With a heavy female listener base, no genre had more ads than True Crime. Magellan says True Crime podcasts it sampled dedicated 8.9% of episode time to advertising, up from 5.8% during Q4. Society & Culture podcasts ranked second with 7.26% of episode time for ads, followed by Education (7.21%) and Sports (6.68%).

Magellan says it is not only brand advertisers that are filling up advertising avails. So is cross-podcast promotion. It says pod-on-pod promotions jumped to 11.58% of episode time on True Crime shows. It means that when combined with traditional time, more than 20% of episode time on True Crime shows it reviewed was advertising, not content.

Magellan AI’s quarterly analysis shows that despite efforts to spread ad dollars deeper into the medium, ad buyers continue to focus heavily on the top podcast. During Q1, it says an estimated $4.90 of every $10 spent on podcast advertising went to a top 500 show. That is 14% more than during Q4. And advertisers spent an average of $249,000 per month on podcasts in the top 500 versus a $27,000 average for shows ranked 501 to 3,000.

The medium does continue to attract new brands, however. Magellan says it detected 1,477 new brands advertising for the first time during Q1. That included 126 business software and services brands, 77 new financial brands, and 55 new food brands. Overall, Magellan says new advertisers spent an average $20,000 testing out podcasting during Q1, with most opting to place ads in the midroll position that ran about a minute.

“Sports continued to be the most popular genre for new brands to run on in Q1,” the report says. “About one of every four new brands included Sports podcasts in their media plan.” Other top go-to genres for newcomers included News, Society & Culture, Comedy, and Arts.

Host-read ads continue to be popular with many marketers, but shorter is the style they like the most. Magellan AI says 42% of ads run during Q1 were 30 seconds, up two points since Q4. Another 9% of ads were 15 seconds, while 19% were a minute in length.

Among the other findings in the analysis, Magellan said that in Q1 a majority 52% of ads were brand awareness spots versus 44% direct response ads. Another 3% were tune-in ads.

Download a copy of Magellan AI’s Quarterly Podcast Advertising Benchmark Report HERE.

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