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Podcast Listeners Continue To Be Action-Focused When It Comes To The Ads They Hear.

A new survey from Acast offers fresh evidence of why podcast ad campaigns could be the solution for a more cash-strapped consumer in 2023. It finds 95% of U.S. podcast listeners have taken some action as a result of podcast advertising. That figure is even higher among frequent listeners even as the universe of podcast fans expands. In that group, 97% had bought a product or researched a brand they heard mentioned on a podcast.

A big factor in that return on investment for marketers is that a majority of podcast listeners say they listen to the ads either all the time or more than half of the time. And despite the ease of skipping past them, fewer than one in five people surveyed said they listen to ads less than half the time.

The survey also points to a growing acceptance of pre-recorded ads. Acast found they did better than host-reads and longer, editorialized messages. Four in ten surveyed listen to pre-recorded ads all of the time, which is higher than one third (34%) who listen to host-reads all the time. Where host-reads outperformed recorded ads is among people who were more likely to skip commercials.

Driving this effectiveness, according to Acast, is the intimate relationship formed between podcasters and their listeners. According to the research, 82% of U.S. podcast fans agree listening to ads is a way to support their favorite podcasters. The study also found three-quarters of listeners who said their favorite podcasters feel like their friends are far more likely to listen to ads all of the time.

The report also shows that host-reads still have an edge when it comes to several of the most comment actions taken after someone is exposed to a podcast ad. The biggest difference impacts a brand’s social media. The survey found seven in ten people who heard a host-read checked out a brand’s social media, which is four points higher than for those who heard a traditional recorded ad. But generally the differences were just a point or two higher for host-reads across the other metrics, including looking at a brand’s website and talking to friends or family about the advertiser.

Christiana Brenton, Acast’s Director of Sales and Brand Partnerships in the U.S., says host-read ads benefited from trusted influencer advocacy in podcasting’s early days, but as the medium has matured, advances in technology and audience data, alongside new planning tools, have allowed the industry to demonstrate the combination of host-reads and pre-recorded ads can effectively scale the medium.

“We can now deliver the best of both worlds – we can reach listeners authentically via host-reads as well as accurately and contextually via hyper-targeted pre-recorded ads,” Brenton said. “Further, podcast measurement advances across both attribution and brand uplift means we can deliver the final demand from the industry – transparency and measurable ROI.”

The growing desire for programmatic buying and selling is “inextricably linked” to the targeting advancements according to Brenton, who points out that 80% of all digital ad budgets are transacted based on audience addressability in the U.S. Marketers also expect to triple their programmatic spend in podcasts during the next five years.

“It’s only logical that automated demand would follow via the pre-recorded format,” Brenton said, pointing out that not all pre-recorded ads are bought programmatically. Even so, she thinks programmatic will inherently contribute to the growth of the pre-recorded ads.

Acast’s survey also shows that being in the right place at the right time is just as important when it comes to podcast advertising. In the case of podcasts, the right place is the show with the right audience where content is in the correct context for the ad.

The survey finds that 95% are more likely to consider a product in a podcast that captures their interest. And 92% of listeners said the content of the podcast matters when they consider a product.

The survey was conducted in December by Attest for Acast. The sample included 600 podcast listeners aged 18 to 64, evenly split between men and women.

The results confirm earlier research pointing to the growth of podcast advertising and programmatic. But Brenton thinks consistent industry education is still needed since media buyers still have a lot of common misconceptions around ad formats, targeting, and measurement. She points to the recent research Acast released showing just 39% of US marketers could correctly define programmatic. Still, podcast ad spending is growing.

“Since Acast exclusively launched our new first party data onboarding capabilities in Q4 2022, we've continued to see increased interest from new advertisers and agencies looking to invest in podcasts in the first half of 2023,” Brenton said.

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