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Top Ten Podcast Advertisers Doubled Spending In 2021; BetterHelp Was Top Spender.

The top ten podcast advertisers spent a combined $279 million last year, more than double the $145 million Magellan AI says the biggest buyers spent on podcast ads during 2020. BetterHelp, the mental health online service company, outspent all other marketers. Magellan estimates it spent $76.9 million, nearly triple what second place spender NBCUniversal invested in podcast ads. Magellan estimates NBCUniversal spent $27.7 million on podcast ads last year, followed by ExpressVPN ($27 million), HelloFresh ($26.8 million) and Amazon ($25.7 million). Illustrating how the appeal of podcasting has remained solid among marketers, the ad spend tracking service says eight of the top ten advertisers in 2021 were also top spenders during 2020.

“This is head and shoulders more activity,” said Magellan CEO Cameron Hendrix “While a lot of these names were the same, it is really the fact that they doubled down and maintained the position in the ranking.”

The average brand advertised on nine shows in 2021, up from seven in 2020. But marketers also went deeper -- 17% of brands analyzed by Magellan spent money on more than ten podcasts last year.

“It means there is still a ton of opportunity for us as an industry to just expand the content that brands are advertising on and grow the industry overall,” said Hendrix on a webinar Thursday.

Overall, Magellan says it saw steady quarter after quarter increases in monthly spending by podcast advertisers. In every quarter it estimates spending surpassed what was spent by marketers during 2020, with nearly twice as much spent during the fourth quarter than in the prior year.

“Every quarter the average spend went up, and all four quarters of 2021 were higher than for 2020. And by the time we got to Q4, we were at almost double the average of 2020,” said Magellan Chief Revenue Officer John Goforth. He said the second quarter was the biggest for podcast ad spending in 2021, some of which he said was driving by the “original great reopening” of the economy. “The growth tapered at the back half of the year, but it was still higher each quarter.” The company declined to disclose how much it estimates was spent on podcasting overall, however.

No ad segment ramped up its podcast ad spending faster than Health Services, which Magellan estimates spent $72.4 million last year, a 331% increase year-to-year. “When diving into the data behind the numbers, it was mostly coming from two different places,” said Goforth. “The new health services economy -- and then we also saw a lot of advertising around COVID. A lot of municipalities, cities and states advertising to get the vaccine. And then also, individual advertiser that might have a COVID test for sale. Obviously, there are a lot of tentacles coming out of COVID and ways in which people are advertising around it.”

Growing at nearly as robust a clip was the Fantasy Sports ad category, which Magellan says also more than tripled its spending year-to-year to $29.7 million. And with many live events returning to normal last year, it says the Live Entertainment ad category also tripled versus 2020.

Magellan says Business Services and Software was the industry that advertised most in podcasts last year, with 2,019 brands coming from that segment. That included 527 new brands. Financial Services ranked second (1,928 brands), followed by Food (1,765 brands) and Consumer Packaged Goods (1,587).

Overall, Magellan’s detected nearly eight thousand new brands testing out podcasting during 2021, with second quarter seeing the biggest number with nearly 2,500 newbies.

“The spend of new brand to podcast has increased quarter over quarter,” said Hendrix. “In Q1 we see new brands coming in with out $15,000. By Q4, we’re seeing them come in with $23,000.” Magellan also notes the average new podcast advertiser’s spot ran about 52-seconds.

Sports podcasts had the biggest appeal among brands coming into the medium. Not only did Sports have the biggest number of new brands sampling the medium via one of the genre’s podcasts, but Magellan says 16% of new brands ran on one or more Sports podcasts last year. That compares to 10% that ran on one or more News podcast. “Those tend to be the gateway drug into podcast-land. These are also easy carryovers from other media channels the might be engaged with,” said Goforth.

Other popular destinations for new advertisers were Arts, Comedy, and Society & Culture series.

As to be expected, midroll ads were still the most-used. But Goforth said one of most interesting trends last year was the continued growth of 30-second ads. Traditionally the 60-second ad was the most coveted, but thinks it reflects more brand awareness ads coming into podcasting.

Magellan data shows that ad loads continue to be smaller than most other media. Shows that are 15-30 minutes averaged about eight percent of their time to advertising last year, compared to shows 15-miutes or less -- often News and Business shows -- that used about 15% of their episode time for ads.

“We still have a long way to go before podcasts get as cluttered as other channels,” said Goforth.

Magellan analyzes podcast advertising data from the top 3,000 podcasts in the U.S., as ranked by Apple Podcasts. Magellan’s proprietary model is used to estimate advertising spend. It includes factors such as the number of ads and variation in ad load detected for a given episode, number of downloads for each episode, and estimated CPMs as reported in select media kits and estimated based on popularity.

Download the full report HERE.

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