The Digital World
January 22, 2022

How can podcast ads help challenger brands to compete?

The digital landscape is constantly evolving and changing, as new mediums emerge or increase in popularity, and others fade into the distant past (remember Tumblr, anyone?). One format that has gone from strength to strength in recent years is podcasts.

For those who do not know, podcasts are audio episodes that can be listened to on a computer or mobile device. As with all entertainment channels, you can find podcasts on nearly every topic, ranging from food, wellbeing, technology, politics, football, the list goes on. We’ve pulled together data and information to highlight the opportunity that podcasts offer as a medium to help challenger brands compete.

Podcast usage is rapidly increasing

According to Mediatel, in the UK, we listen to almost 60 million hours of podcasts a week, a figure 17 times greater than the number in 2015. This growth is outpacing other media, as audio overall is performing well, but with music streaming and podcasts being the fastest growing listening activity. 18% of those surveyed in 2020 listened to podcasts each week, providing a vast audience for advertisers to tap into. Of this audience, 27% are aged 25-44, and there is a slight skew towards males.

Motivation for listening to podcasts is primarily for entertainment, and 61% of Mediatel’s surveyed listeners claim that podcasts offer them more than content that they can obtain from the radio. Education is another popular motivation, increasing from 19% - 25% of user’s motivations during the first UK lockdown. As the number of topics covered by podcasts continues to increase, there are more opportunities for a range of brands to tap in where appropriate.

High levels of attention

Audio touchpoints have the ability to be highly effective because they are literally sitting inside the listener’s ear, and the user has chosen to engage, providing a uniquely intimate experience. Unlike radio, which has a peak listening time at breakfast, podcast listening occurs throughout the entire day, and users also play podcasts in a variety of locations, giving advertisers multiple opportunities to reach them. For example, 47% of listeners tune in at home, 20% on public transport or walking, 17% in the car, and 11% in the workplace or whilst studying.

Out of those surveyed, 48% of users claim to not mind advertising so long as podcasts are free, which is likely to increase their effectiveness. Nielsen also reported that podcasts have outperformed pre-roll video in driving purchase intent in 57% of cases. Furthermore, 70% of respondents agreed that podcast ads increased their awareness of products and services.  Of course, there will always be distractions, but the (for want of a better word) ‘noise’ surrounding ads usually (e.g. other display ads sat on the same page) is reduced.

What is the opportunity for challenger brands?

Challenger brands are not market leaders by nature, meaning that their marketing budgets are often smaller, and their efforts must often be greater to obtain market share. It is important to be smart with the budgets available and ensure that every penny is spent in the most efficient way possible. Podcast ads fit this brief, as their cost-efficiencies outperform other display and video partners in terms of scale and reach, perhaps as there are currently fewer advertisers in this space.

There are a couple of different creative options for podcast ads. There are varying production costs between partners, but some include these in their media cost rates. Spotify offer an ad production tool, whereby the advertiser provides a script and selects the type of voice they want to have reading it (e.g., female, aged 30-40), and the ad is made for free. The minimum media cost to use this tool is £250, making this an incredibly affordable option.

Additionally, Acast’s ad production costs start at £1000 for 30 seconds, a much lower figure than the costs involved when producing video or display assets. They also offer ‘Sponsorship’ which is a 30-60s host-read endorsement that blends seamlessly into the show. Finally, they offer ‘Branded Content,’ which is tailor made creative, and could range from a branded segment to a complete series.

Whilst this sounds very promising, a consideration for podcasts is that targeting intelligence is less precise than other options such as social. However, depending on how niche your product or service is, there are still ways of reaching the right group of people.

In summary, if you have a tight ad budget and want to embark on a rapidly accelerating medium through which to advertise, podcasts might be the option for you.  As described in these examples, production costs are typically much lower than production of a video ad, and podcasts can provide cost-efficient reach. This means they can be a great option for smaller or challenger brands, who cannot compete on price.

Lauren Haynes, Account Executive

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