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What’s The Right Number Of Ads? Here’s What Listener Say.

Podcast listeners are notoriously tolerant of commercials, but what is the right number per episode? The latest Podcast Download study from Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights reveals that ad load tolerance has remained remarkably stable during the past five years – even as a flood of new listeners have come into the medium. The latest data shows weekly podcast listeners would consider 3.8 ads per 60-minute episode appropriate. And they say 2.6 ads in a 30-minute episode feels right to them. Both are up slightly compared to 2017.

How the ad is presented matters. Six in ten (62%) weekly podcast listeners prefer host-read ads voiced by either the host or someone related to the show versus 15% who say they prefer an ad that sounds like the ones they hear on broadcast radio or streaming services.

Just as important is the ad copy. Seven in ten (71%) say they would rather hear a podcast ad that is funny or entertaining above all else. The good news is that advertisers seem to be hitting the mark. When asked about the ads they have heard on a podcast recently, 72% said they frequently or occasionally heard an ad that was entertaining and 62% said they heard an ad that they considered funny.

What weekly podcast listeners heard the most were ads that mentioned features or benefits of the product being sold in the commercial as 78% said that is what they frequently or occasionally were exposed to. But when asked what types of ads they prefer, 61% said they would like to hear ads that detailed the product’s features. The ad copy that listeners were least interested in are spots that tug at the heartstrings, although half of those surveyed said they would be open to listening to an additional story in a podcast commercial.

“Funny and entertaining ads offer a creative opportunity: While podcast consumers remain highly receptive to podcast ads, they prefer funny and entertaining podcast ads in contrast to the more rational podcast ads they currently hear most often,” the report says.

The survey also shows that even as brands are more sensitive than ever, leaning heavily into technology to locate brand safe content, listeners are much more open-minded. The data shows a majority of listeners have no problem with swearing in podcasts.

Two-thirds (65%) said they have no objections to language that might be considered unsuitable for broadcast radio or television. And when they are exposed to such content, only 29% said they would turn off the podcast. Brand safety concerns are even less of a problem for True Crime listeners as just seven percent said they would turn off an episode if they heard graphic content or language.

For the eleventh edition of the Podcast Download series, Cumulus Media and Signal Hill retained MARU/Matchbox to conduct an in-depth study of 608 weekly podcast consumers from October 13-19.

Download a copy of the Podcast Download-Fall 2023 report HERE.

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