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Study: In Podcast Advertising, Positivity Drives Effectiveness.

As brand-building advertising has gradually replaced direct response marketing as claiming the largest share of podcast ad spend — up from 27% in 2016 to an estimated 61% for 2023, according to IAB/PwC’s annual podcast ad revenue report — research from Nielsen shows the power of brand-based podcast advertising, as reported in Westwood One’s weekly blog.

“Building brands is on the minds of B2B and performance advertisers, two groups of marketers who typically obsess only over the lower funnel,” Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard says. A sure sign of brand marketers leaning into podcasts is the increase in brand lift studies conducted by Nielsen.”

Having conducted more than 1,300 podcast brand effect studies since 2017, Nielsen has just released several key findings. One such study, comparing participants exposed to podcast ads to those unexposed, shows that podcasts significantly lift brand awareness, likelihood to seek information, purchase intent, and recommendation. Alcoholic beverages, personal care, and automotive are among the brand categories showing the biggest lifts in both awareness and purchase intent, while tech brands also score higher in the former metric, and travel in the latter.

Generally, according to Nielsen, Americans are receptive to podcasts as an ad medium, with two-thirds (67%) saying they fit the brand, 63% giving the host a positive rating, and 61% intending to seek out the brand. Additionally, podcast ads score highest on interest, believability, and being natural and authentic.

“The exceptionally positive podcast host and content associations create a powerful context for advertising,” Bouvard says. Very few associate podcast advertising with negative perceptions.”

Positivity also rules when it comes to both content and host characteristics. Across Nielsen’s 1,300+ studies, the terms with the greatest association with podcast content are: interesting, entertaining, authentic, credible, appealing and fun; while the strongest associations with podcast hosts are: likeable, credible, relatable, fun, and hosts being seen as an expert.

“Positive podcast content evaluation and host appeal generate strong advertising effectiveness,” Bouvard says. “[Again,] few listeners associate negative terms with podcast content [or] hosts.”

The blog cites Edison Research’s most recent “Share of Ear” study showing that in key demos, monthly podcast reach is now in the 57-65% range, and weekly in the 40-49% range. Specific to persons 18-34, podcasts’ 48% weekly reach rivals TV’s 50%, while AM/FM radio leads with 77%.

“It wasn’t that long ago that marketers dismissed podcasts for lacking scale. No longer,” Bouvard says. “Podcasting is the perfect platform to build a brand, as its 18-34 reach is now as big as TV.”

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