First quarter is typically a lighter period for advertising, and that is no different for podcasts. But based on what it saw during the first three months of the year, Magellan AI says the trends show the medium continues to shake-off any remaining impacts from the pandemic. It detected 1,569 brands buying podcast ads for the first time during the first quarter. And while their spending was small, averaging about $15,000 apiece, it added up. Magellan says podcast ad spending in March exceeded the average monthly spend during the typically robust fourth quarter.
The quarterly benchmark report from Magellan says the top ten advertisers during the first quarter spent a combined $44 million. That was a four percent increase compared to the $42 million spent by the top ten during the fourth quarter.
The online mental health service provider BetterHelp was podcasting’s biggest advertiser during the quarter, spending an estimated $9.9 million. GEICO ranked second with an estimated $5.1 million in podcast advertising, followed by ExpressVPN with $4.2 million. The report also shows growing quarter-to-quarter stability in the industry with eight of the top ten in the first quarter also topping the Q4 list of biggest spenders.
Across the sample of shows analyzed, Magellan reports the greatest number of advertisers came from the business services and software category. It included 403 different advertisers during Q1, including 129 newcomers. Financial services ranked second with 377 different brands represented, followed by consumer packaged goods (367 advertiser) and education (278 advertisers).
In terms of dollars spent, the ad categories where the biggest gains came were in consumer services and software, insurance, automotive, nutritional supplements, and bedding.
Fiction, True Crime, and Kids & Family podcasts had the most airtime dedicated to ads during first quarter. But Magellan says it was Sports and News that had the biggest influx of new advertisers. Among the newbies, 29% ran ads in Sports podcasts and 27% ran in News podcasts, according to its analysis.
For all its growth, podcast advertising remains a story of haves and have-nots with the dividing line based on how many downloads a show receives. Based on its estimates, Magellan says half of podcast ad revenue during the first quarter went to the 500 most popular podcasts where advertisers spent an average of $121,000 per month. That compared to an average of $16,000 spent on podcasts ranking 501 or higher.
The report also points out that one in five podcasts featured a single advertiser with nearly 20% of those episodes including multiple ad units dedicated to the same advertiser. “Overall, the average episode sampled in Q1 dedicated about 5.1% of its content to advertising,” it says, noting that includes ads promoting other podcasts. Magellan also says mid-roll ads remain the most common placement regardless of how often a podcast is published.
The report is based on Magellan’s analysis of more than 55,000 episodes of popular podcasts. Magellan analyzes podcast advertising data from the top 3,000 podcasts in the U.S., as ranked by Apple Podcasts. Magellan’s proprietary model is used to estimate advertising spend. It includes factors such as the number of ads and variation in ad load detected for a given episode, number of downloads for each episode, and estimated CPMs as reported on select media kits and estimated based on popularity.
Download the full report HERE.