It started with a brand that wanted to create a podcast. That led Mattress firm to team with the Spark Foundry team and iHeartMedia’s Ruby Studio to create the Chasing Sleep Podcast. The result was a 45% lift in incremental sales, according to an analysis, as well as a four-times incremental return on ad spend.
The custom measurement study – which was conducted by iHeartMedia, Mattress Firm and the consumer purchase insights company Affinity Solutions – confirmed the connectivity of podcast advertising to in-store sales. “There is proof in the ability of podcasts to move the needle for brands, beyond online transactions,” they say in a joint announcement detailing their findings.
The campaign featured a custom podcast called Chasing Sleep. For its inaugural season, the teams brought together a mix of sleep advisors and everyday people to explore how everyone from astronauts to newscasters to ultramarathoners prioritize sleep to perform and live at their best. The podcast incorporated key brand messaging throughout, complemented with ad placements across the iHeartPodcasts network.
To track the impact of a podcast on in-store sales, iHeartMedia partnered with Affinity Solutions to measure sales outcomes over a three-month campaign period that was based on this custom audio content. Affinity’s Consumer Purchase Lift leveraged transaction data and then combined that with a control and exposed methodology to remove dependance on proxy metrics like foot-traffic to forecast sales. The result is that it says with a high level of confidence that the podcast’s impact on in-store sales can be attributed.
“It’s all about the power of proof,” said Damian Garbaccio, Chief Business & Marketing Officer for Affinity Solutions. “Until now, success was based on proxy metrics like reach, frequency, and foot traffic. By using purchase data like Affinity’s, we can finally go beyond proxies to provide definitive proof of 'outcomes' from paid media – purchases.”
Mattress Firm says it has had more than 100,000 downloads to its Chasing Sleep podcast, which is hosted by Katie Lowes and Adam Shapiro. The retailer says the podcast gives them an “always on” marketing opportunity in a way that traditional ad campaigns cannot.
“Podcasts are the perfect medium for combining Mattress Firm’s passion for sleep with the power of storytelling,” said Sam Bennett, Senior VP of Marketing at Mattress Firm. “The results of this study unequivocally revealed that an investment in branded content yields strong results. As we continue to invest in content, we remain focused on harnessing the power of podcasts to empower, educate, and inspire our valued audience – while simultaneously driving business results.”
The results of the Mattress Firm campaign’s analysis are not only a confirmation of the power of podcasting ads to move consumers, but also a boost for the in-house studio that iHeart launched in May to expand its work with marketers. The unit will handle production, sales and marketing of branded podcasts. It builds on the branded content that iHeart has been doing in the podcast space for the past four years. So far, iHeart’s Ruby has created 30 branded podcasts, including 20 in the past year, for brands including T-Mobile, Salesforce, IBM, and Mattress Firm.
“Over 100 million Americans listen to podcasts a month with 80 million Americans listening weekly, which is clear evidence this ‘emerging medium’ has now become a permanent, new part of all of our media consumption – giving brands access to new and engaging audiences,” said Brian Kaminsky, Chief Data Officer for iHeartMedia. “By partnering with Affinity to measure the impact of Mattress Firm’s digital audio advertising, particularly on their bottom line, we were able to demonstrate the power of the brand’s partnership with iHeart to drive sales and strong ROI. We also gained insights to optimize campaign performance that we are already applying.”