Podcasting’s Winning Combination For Ad Buyers? High Attentiveness And Low Ad Skipping Rates.


Nearly half of ad buyers surveyed say ad skipping rates factor into their decision on where to place their media dollars. That plays well for podcasting, which according to a Media Attentiveness and Ad Skipping Report from the Cumulus Media Audio Active Group scores high not only on listener concentration but on a lower rate of ad avoidance.


A MARU/Matchbox survey found that no audio option did better than podcasting when it comes to attentiveness. Six in ten surveyed in 2019 said they concentrate a lot on a podcast. Illustrating the so-called “lean forward” medium of podcasting, that figure compares to 45% who said the same for the “lean-back” AM/FM radio.


“First in attentiveness and concentration, by far, is podcasting. It’s spoken word, people are learning, and they are really super-engaged,” said Cumulus Media Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard. “Next is AM/FM, both over-the-air and streaming, and their attentiveness is twice as big as Pandora and Spotify.”


Cumulus teamed up with Signal Hill Insights to look more closely at how that media attentiveness plays out when ad skipping behavior is examined today. The survey finds that most digital forms of media have high rates of avoidance -- nearly half of people surveyed said they skip all pop-up ads while online. And four in ten said they always avoid social media ads. But podcasting is different.


The survey found that four out of five podcast listeners consume the ads on a show at least some of the time. And while 20% said they always avoid podcast ads, that rate is among the lowest of any media surveyed as podcasts tied with TV ad skipping rates and were roughly on par with broadcast radio (19%) and streamed AM/FM radio (18%).


More common behavior is probably occasional ad skipping, and there the survey found that podcasts score near the top. Three in ten (29%) of those surveyed said they either never skip the ads, or do so less than half of the time. And while ad loads are significantly higher on broadcast radio, the survey found that AM/FM had the lowest rate of ad avoidance as 35% said they never avoid a radio ad or do so less than half of the time. The data shows they were more likely to avoid ads on TV and on digital media.


“The ads that consumers say they are skipping a lot are digital ads -- pop-ups, social media banners, online video. The ads that people are skipping the least, the stickiest ads, are traditional media -- print, AM/FM, and podcasts,” said Bouvard. “AM/FM is actually No. 1 in ad stickiness with the least amount of ad skipping,” he said in a video detailing the findings.


A factor in podcasting’s success is likely tied to the reason people listen to shows. When asked where they turn to learn something new, a majority 51% said they listen to a podcast. That is more than triple the rate (15%) for broadcast radio.


But while getting information is a big appeal of podcasts, it is not the only one. Half of those surveyed said they listen to be entertained. Nearly a third said they listen to podcasts to pass the time, while roughly a quarter said podcasts inspire them. One in ten said podcasts also help them connect with other people, a figure that may seem surprising considering it’s a medium that is still mostly done one your own with a pair of headphones.


An Advertiser Perception survey in December found that one in five ad buyers said they are using consumer attention metrics to measure the effectiveness of their media investments. And 47% said it was “somewhat” important to them.


“Attention is growing in importance. People are seeing it as a bridge to marketing effectiveness,” said Bouvard. He thinks the data shows why adjustments should be made in the amount advertisers pay for audio ads. “For sure, traditional media impressions are worth more than digital impressions. Linear TV, print, and audio enjoy much stronger audio concentration and attentiveness versus digital platforms. In short, consumers notice the ads more,” he said.


Podcasting CPMs are higher than what advertisers pay for AM/FM radio. But they are “absolutely warranted” according to Bouvard. “People are leaning in, they’re learning, there’s high attentiveness, there’s great information,” he said.


The MARU/Matchbox survey was conducted among 1,520 U.S. persons aged 13+ from Sept. 28 to Oct. 14, 2021.


Download the Cumulus Media’s Media Attentiveness and Ad Skipping Report HERE.

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