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Studies Show What Listeners, And Marketers, Want From Podcast Ads.

Results from recent research studies offer a closer look at how podcast consumers respond to advertising, and how important podcasts have become for advertisers themselves.

“It is safe to say podcast advertising has hit the mainstream among national marketers and media agencies,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says in the Westwood One weekly blog's analysis of these studies, including the latest in a series conducted since 2015 among 300 participants by Advertiser Perceptions showing significant growth in podcast advertising consideration and activation.

The results show likelihood of considering podcast advertising – and actually doing so – in the next six months hit all-time highs of 62% and 58%, respectively. “Generally, there are more agencies and brands who say they will 'consider spending' in a media versus those who say they 'actually intend' to spend,” Bouvard notes. “From 2015 to 2021, this was the case for podcasting. This past two years, the gap has narrowed.”

Those brands and agencies would be well advised to listen to how consumers feel about current podcast advertising, based on the latest in a series of MARU/Matchbox surveys of more than 600 consumers for Cumulus and Signal Hill Insights. One major finding is that seven in ten (71%) say they would rather hear a podcast ad that is funny or entertaining above all else, even though what they're hearing most often are ads communicating the features or benefits of products or services.

Along those lines, 68% of weekly podcast listeners agree that they like when a host has fun with ads they read, and 57% agree that host-read ads are more engaging than traditional ads, while more than half (55%) of consumers like when the host recommends a product they use. Additionally, when weekly podcast consumers are given a choice between different types of podcast ads, 62% prefer those read either by the host or by someone other than the host, while just 15% prefer ads that sound like those heard on streaming music or AM/FM radio.

Appealing to consumers on an emotional basis is what podcast hosts do best, and they should extend that method to their ad reads,” Bouvard says. “Podcast hosts can make use of their time on air by thinking of ad reads as additional time to connect with consumers emotionally.”

The study also finds that even as more podcast ads have run over the past five years, listeners remain receptive to them, with the average number of ads weekly consumers feel is appropriate staying fairly steady since 2017, currently at 3.8 for an hour-long podcast and 2.6 for one running 30 minutes. What's more, listeners are invested in the success of their favorite podcasts, with half (50%) of weekly podcast consumers saying they wouldn’t mind a couple of extra ads per show if it means their favorite podcasts could continue.

Noting that brand marketers have passed direct response brands as the largest podcast advertisers, according to IAB/PwC, the blog cites a report from the World Advertising Research Center pointing out the differences between the advertising goals of each. “The goal of direct response advertisers is to convert existing demand and make a sale right now, [while] brand marketers seek to create future demand and build memories,” Bouvard says. “Both require different creative/copy approaches and different media strategies. Sales event or promotional copy does not work on the large group of consumers who are not in the market and not ready to buy now. The podcast creative strategy of brand advertisers does not have to imitate the dry and rational copy of approach of podcast direct response advertisers.”

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