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The Upside To Fewer Downloads In iOS 17? Ads Performance Metrics Are Improving.


The number of podcast downloads may have fallen since Apple Podcasts rolled out its iOS 17 update, but an analysis shows it appears to be having a positive impact on advertising performance. While still early, Podscribe says there was a “slight uptick” in ad performance between the third and fourth quarters, which it says is likely attributed to the elimination of the automated back catalog downloads.


Based on its review of how advertising campaigns performed, Podscribe’s quarterly benchmark report says fourth quarter podcast ads drove a website visit rate of 0.56%, which was up from 0.47% during the previous quarter prior to release of iOS 17. That was a 19% quarter-to-quarter improvement. Other metrics also rose, including a 13% rise in the podcast ad conversion rate.


“For the first time, we’re witnessing the positive change iOS 17 had on the podcast space, particularly seeing improved confidence in impression-based buys and DAI,” Podscribe CEO Pete Birsinger says in a blog post.


The Q4 update shows that during the past year episodic/baked-in campaigns sustained their lead in terms of achieving a higher visitor rate when compared to dynamic ad insertion/impression-based ad counterparts. Podscribe says those embedded ads have historically shown a strong performance, primarily due to their seamless integration with the podcast content and the perceived endorsement by the podcast host. But there are also some changes, likely from the iOS changes. Podscribe says that although baked-in ads were on average 35% stronger in Q3, its lead declined in the fourth quarter when baked-in ads had a smaller 21% advantage. At the same time the report says host-read ads continue to outperform producer read ads, with the gap growing in the final quarter of 2023.


“The iOS 17 adjustment has been challenging for publishers. But one positive impact of iOS 17 is that by actualizing numbers we get closer to a true north of listenership that other channels still do not have,” says Crooked Media VP of Sales Giancarlo Bizzaro.


The latest Podscribe benchmark report shows several other insights into how podcast ads performed during the fourth quarter beyond iOS 17 impacts. The most noteworthy is the company says it can no longer definitely conclude that a commercial that runs first in an ad break is superior to one that runs second – as it moves away from the traditional “pre-roll” and “mid-roll” terminology.


“Nevertheless, it remains clear that beyond placement [ad break] three, there is a noticeable decline in performance and effectiveness,” the report says. “As located in the second slot in an ad group continued to demonstrate higher performance. However, the margin by which they outperformed the other placements decreased in Q4, making it statistically insignificant.” It says during the fourth quarter, the second placement ad group remained the top performer, but its lead shrank versus Q3.


The data also shows the day of the week the ad runs also matters, with commercials run on a weekday outperforming as run during the weekend. Wednesday was the best weekday in Q4, followed by Thursday and Monday.


The analysis of more than 16,000 podcast ads also show there is a strong correlation between podcast length and its effectiveness. For instance, as an ad read grows longer, the rate of a listener visiting a brand’s website also increases. On average, Podscribe says ads that run longer than two minutes outperform ads that are one minute or less by roughly 20%. “This highlights the importance of ad duration in developing effective podcast advertising strategies, allowing advertisers to fine-tune their ads for better engagement and results,” it says in a blog post.


Among the best performing show genre’s in Podscribe’s quarterly report are Technology, Business and Religion. It also says downloadable podcasts typically outperform streaming audio, since podcast listeners tend to be more engaged when they listen to the content. It is why podcast ads carry a higher CPM.


The report is based on data from 118 advertisers and 16,954 campaigns during a 12-month period.


Download Podscribe’s Performance Benchmark Q4 report HERE.

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