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Study: Branded Podcasts Connect With Listeners, Spur Consumers Into Action.

There’s a research library of studies that shows podcast advertising works for brands, but to date there has been limited analysis on the results branded shows deliver. Signal Hill Insights is filling in some of the gaps with a new benchmarking report on the segment. Among the findings is that branded podcasts drive many of the same purchase funnel results that traditional podcast ads produce.

Signal Hill, which has analyzed branded series for companies including Google, Dell, Ford, OnStar, Amex and US Bank, says brand podcasts drive upper-funnel and mid-funnel metrics for brands, including raising awareness, interest and consideration. That is due in part to the impact branded series have on the audience’s opinion of the brand. Signal Hill says 86% of the branded podcasts it tested saw a lift in affinity for the brand behind the podcast compared to people who didn’t hear the show. The brands Signal Hill tested had an average eight-point increase in affinity scores — or the number of people who heard the show and rated the brand either “very good” or “excellent.”

Driving that increase is what Signal Hill says is the “halo effect” that is transferred to the brand responsible for the podcast. It says 61% of listeners on average say they have a more favorable opinion about a brand based on hearing the show the brand produced. That warm and fuzzy feeling starts with the podcast itself.

The study finds that there is a strong correlation between the appeal of the branded podcast and the likelihood of listeners saying the podcast made them feel more favorable towards the brand. Signal Hill says that might sound like common sense, but the benchmarking report gives the industry the evidence to back up its pitch to marketers as well as gain a better understanding of what is going on inside the minds of listeners.

Signal Hill’s benchmarking report includes studies it has done during the past eight years. President Jeff Vidler says many branded shows are seeing results improve with time. “It obviously depends on the podcast, but the top performers have been doing better over the last two or three years,” he says.

Chief Insights Officer Paul Riismandel thinks that likely has to do with the fact that branded podcast producers continue to up their game, and ones the company works with often use study results to inform strategies.

“It shows that a great podcast is a great podcast, branded or not,” Riismandel says. “What’s not great is an infomercial. But if the content is appealing and entertaining on its own merits, then the branding by itself does not diminish that.”

To examine further what is appealing to audiences and how that translates for branded series, Signal Hill examined five different attributes. It says the top attribute that translates into listeners saying the branded series was likely to influence their decision-making was finding the show entertaining. Four in ten (39%) said that mattered most in their decision to listen to the podcast again. A third (32%) said that whether a podcast held their attention is a driving factor.

The good news for producers is Signal Hill’s research finds many shows are meeting that threshold. It says 65% of listeners say they would listen to another episode, and 64% would recommend the series.

“If the podcast delivers value, the listeners see it as a gift,” Vidler says. “Even though a lot of people come to podcasts to learn something new, when all else is equal, they’ll choose the podcast that is entertaining as well as informative. There’s a reason people call it a ‘show.’”

Further down the purchase funnel, the data also shows branded podcasts are having an impact on brand recall and purchase consideration. Signal Hill says with exposure to just a single episode, 51% of listeners recalled the brand responsible for the series without any prompting. When researchers gave people a list of brands to select from, 73% identified the correct one.

While the report is focused on branded shows, Riismandel says the data shows there are some lessons that all podcasters can take from the study.

“Every podcaster is looking for continued listening and engagement, and this research shows entertaining content, and content that keeps the listener’s attention, drive intent to listen to another episode and recommend the series,” he says. “This may seem like common sense, but a brand’s, producer’s or host’s other objectives can sometimes get in the way of retaining that focus on entertaining the listener.” 

Download Signal Hill’s 2024 Benchmark Report: Branded Podcasts HERE.

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