Host-read ads are at the very foundation of podcasts and are increasingly sought after by broadcast radio advertisers. Anecdotal evidence has long suggested they hit the bulls-eye for brands that use them. Now a new study shows they produce higher lifts than announcer-read ads for new and established brands at both ends of the purchase funnel.
Commissioned by podcast company Stitcher and conducted by audio researcher Signal Hill Insights, the controlled exposure brand lift study involved four brands— two established and two emerging. Signal Hill surveyed 412 listeners to a specific podcast from Midroll’s opt-in panel of podcast listeners. Midroll is the advertising arm of Stitcher. The copy points used in both ad formats were the same. Eight different metrics were tested, ranging from recall to top and bottom-funnel measures for each of the four brands.
Presented Thursday at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s virtual 2020 Reach Conference, the study showed announcer reads generated significant lifts over the control group for important brand health measures. But the host reads produced 91% more lifts than the announcer reads. Host reads performed even better for the two established brands in the study, with 66% more unaided recalls than the announcer reads and 59% more for emerging brands.
“Both kinds of ads performed well but we saw much greater lift for those host reads,” said
Jeff Vidler, President of Signal Hill Insights.
The host-read ads produced greater lifts in top-of-mind awareness, brand familiarity and total awareness than the announcer ads for both the established and emerging brands. “We saw lifts across the board and that’s nice to know that every brand was able to see that lift whether they’re going with that announcer read or that host read,” said Paul Riismandel, Senior Director of Marketing and Insights at Stitcher.
Among top-funnel purchase metrics, the host-read ads produced double the awareness of the announcer-voiced spots and out-performed in top-of mind category awareness and brand familiarity.
Homing in on the two emerging brands, host reads yielded 59% more unaided recall than the announcer reads.
While awareness is important, many brands are looking to move listeners to take an action and increase other bottom-of-the-funnel metrics. For established brands, intent to purchase was almost twice as high for host reads compared to announcer reads. Intent to take action was also higher for the host reads.
“The announcer reads worked well to stimulate someone’s curiosity to look for more info about the brand. But when it came to taking any action, especially moving someone to purchase, the host reads moved the needle a bunch more for these established brands,” Riismandel explained.
The top takeaway from the study: both types of ads generate strong lifts. The announcer-read ads perform very well but host-read ads took performance to the next level. “The lift is turbo-charged,” Vidler said. “When you have that chance to use a host-read ad you really are getting premium value on the advertiser side.”
The lesson learned isn't for podcast advertisers to buy host-read ads exclusively. Instead, the two execs said that combining announcer-reads and host-reads in a campaign can maximize efficient reach and overall effectiveness. “The key is to combine them. Go for that scale and make sure you’re getting the type of frequency that you need and then really enhance it with those host-reads,” Riismandel said.