Podcast Ads’ Appeal With Listeners Might be Abating

November 1, 2019

In the past, podcast listeners have been receptive to advertising during their favorite podcasts, with significant portions claiming to make a purchase after hearing an ad. Yet data from the latest Podcast Download report [download page] from Westwood One might put a slight dampener on podcast ad enthusiasm, as it finds that listeners are becoming less amenable to podcast advertisements.

Westwood One surveyed 601 US adults (18 years and older), all of whom listen to at least one hour of podcasts per week. Among these respondents, three-fifths (60%) agree that they would not mind a couple of extra ads per show in order for their favorite podcast to continue. This is down from the 65% who agreed with this statement one year earlier.

Indeed, listeners’ feelings about the ads they hear on podcasts are somewhat less positive than previously found. Some 41% of respondents agreed that most ads they hear on podcasts are engaging (compared to 45% in 2018) while 39% say that the ads they hear on podcasts are relevant to them (also down from 45% in 2018).

Support for brands has also fallen, with the one-third (33%) of listeners agreeing that they go out of their way to support brands that advertise on their favorite podcasts a step down from the 40% who said the same last year. This is at the same time that the use of brand-related (as opposed to direct response) podcast ads has increased.

There are a couple of possible reasons for this decline in receptiveness. One is the influx of ad dollars being poured into podcasts, with PwC estimating that podcast advertising will double in the next 4 years.

Meanwhile, past research shows that listeners felt that advertisements read by the podcast host were considered to be more authentic and believable. However, this latest report points out that according to data from the IAB and PwC, podcast revenue for host-read ads decline by 6% between 2017 and 2018 while announcer or pre-produced ad revenues grew by 12%. So while podcast listeners are less likely to skip an ad during a podcast than in any other media, the shift away from their preferred type of ads may factor into the loss of appeal these ads once had.

Listenership Among Women Rises

A demographic that advertisers may want to pay attention to is the growing number of women who listen to podcasts. Some 57% of weekly podcast listeners who started listening to podcasts in the past 6 months are women. In fact, women are spending more time with podcasts than in previous years, with women listeners spending 5.4 hours per week this year, up a full hour from 2017.

The average number of podcasts women listen to has also risen to 4.5, up from 3.9 in 2017.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a nationally representative sample of 601 adults (18 years old and older) who listen to at least one hour of podcasts per week. Surveys were conducted between July 29, 2019 and August 10, 2019.

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