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Survey Finds Listeners Aren’t As Squeamish About Sensitive Content As Ad Buyers.

Brand safety is all the buzz in advertising circles, but brands and buyers may be out of step with the typical listener. Acast commissioned a survey of podcast listeners in the U.S. and U.K. and it found that an overwhelming 92% are open to listening to conversations about sensitive topics. And 57% said they expect podcast hosts to cover issues that are sensitive or less openly spoken about.

Amber David, International Account Manager at Acast, calls the findings “extremely positive” and said it shows how the medium can serve brands and listeners alike. “Podcasting is a brand-safe environment, but also one where the important conversations listeners want to hear can take place,” she said in a blog post detailing the survey’s findings.

When it comes to advertising, the survey finds edgier content is not always the universal turn-off that some marketers fear when considering supporting shows that frankly discuss topics of women’s health, sexuality, and mental health.

The survey also found that 38% of podcast listeners expect the ads they hear to cover sensitive and less-spoken-about topics. Men were slightly more open than women -- 39% to 37%. But seven percent of both genders said they flat-out do not expect ads to tackle sensitive issues.

“When I think of podcasts -- I think of a medium where such conversations are protected and welcomed — where people who identify as women are free to discuss important, valid issues, and where they have a safe platform to engage with others on what matters to them,” said David. “Podcasts feel like the best place available for people who identify as women to talk about sex, sexual health and wellness openly, honestly, and without filter or censorship — in some ways taking on the huge gap left by the closure of so many women's lifestyle magazines,” she said in a blog post.

When asked which subjects in particular they want advertisers to cover, the answer reflects shifting attitudes about mental health issues. Acast says 73% of those surveyed said they have no problem with an ad discussing mental health issues. And a majority 55% also said they think it’s fine for money issues and debt to be brought up in a commercial. Listeners were also mostly fine with medical and health problems and sexual health issues focused on during ads. But it also showed topics like breast feeding and hair loss were more sensitive for many people.

“Podcasting is a brand-safe environment, but also one where the important conversations listeners want to hear can take place,” said David. “Clearly, there’s demand for brands to talk about and promote these important topics — and podcasts provide a safe space away from social media platforms, where brands perhaps suffer the risk of offense being caused by the visual nature of such ads.”

The One Pulse survey was conducted in February among 500 weekly podcast listeners in the U.S. and 503 in the U.K.

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