How to Identify and Connect with Your Ideal Podcast Ad Audience

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With an estimated 750,000 active podcasts in production, and topics ranging from the history of gnomes to dentistry to songwriting, there very well may be a podcast for everyone. So it’s safe to assume there also is a podcast for every advertiser. 

While just over half of Americans have listened to them, podcasts are finding new audiences every day. U.S. advertisers spent $479 million on podcast ads in 2018, up 53% year-over-year; that figure is expected to hit $1 billion in 2021. And those people who do listen to podcasts listen to them a LOT. Podcasts are the number one audio source by time of consumption among podcast listeners, and weekly listeners consume an average seven podcasts per week, according to Edison Research.

Podcast advertising is rapidly evolving, as are podcasts themselves. It’s no wonder, then, that advertisers could use help identifying the right podcasts for their products and connecting with podcast audiences. Here’s what you need to know about podcasts and their audiences to find the right home for your podcast advertisements. 

Podcast listeners face an economy of choice

Podcast aficionados have the freedom to get hyper-specific when searching for a show that fits their interests and needs. This wealth of content poses a challenge for both audiences and advertisers — cutting through the clutter to find the podcast gold that’s truly worth a listen. 

For both groups, finding the ideal podcast can involve some trial and error. While listeners can rely on recommendations from friends and online reviews to steer them in the right direction, advertisers new to podcasting may struggle to find both the right audience and the right language to connect. 

The takeaway: Leverage new tech tools to land on the right audience — and the right messaging

Emerging tech stands to change the connection between podcast advertisers and their audiences. Companies need solutions that leverage artificial intelligence to scan podcasts for content topics to empower search and discovery, as well as brand-podcast alignment. 

The same technology also allows companies to scan their performance metrics to determine audience ROI based on specific content choice. Modern metrics surface precise, real-time data by tracking and listening to each of your company’s paid and organic mentions. This gives podcast advertisers the unique advantage to quickly strategize and adjust ad copy. 

Podcast listeners are hyper-engaged

Unlike radio or satellite listeners, who listen to a station passively, podcast audiences make an active choice to listen to a specific show. Podcast advertisers are gaining a more engaged listener than other media; 70% of listeners say they don’t perform other activities while tuning in. That’s not a surprising statistic; it’s tough to concentrate on office work and listen to a podcast about a tornado hitting senior prom at the same time.

When podcast listeners know their subject-matter expectations will be met, they’re ready to settle in with a show for the long haul. Nearly all (93%) say they stream, at a minimum, the majority of a podcast once they start listening. 

The takeaway: Put your ad dollars where they’ll work best

Because podcast listeners likely will stick with their favorite show through your company’s ad, every second of the copy and messaging matters. Very different language will resonate with listeners of Joe Rogan versus those of Amy Schumer, for example, though both groups may be interested in the same mattress. Taking the time to match the tone the audience expects from the podcast in your advertisement will be key to winning their business.

Podcast listeners want an authentic connection

Fans of “My Favorite Murder,” considered the gold standard of true-crime podcasts, are rabidly connected to hosts Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff. “Muderinos” get tattoos, create fan art, decorate graduation mortar boards and even dress in drag in honor of their favorite show. “My Favorite Murder” sees 19 million monthly downloads, and its success allowed Hardstark and Kilgariff to launch their own podcast network, Exactly Right, and publish a book. 

While most podcast hosts don’t achieve rockstar status among their listeners, audiences are thirsty for a human connection via shared beliefs, morals and ideas. Three-quarters (76%) of listeners say they enjoy specific podcasts because of the particular hosts. 

The takeaway: Make your podcast ads authentic, too

First-party endorsements within the content of the show are king among podcast ad content. The host’s credibility with their audience means the ad instead comes off as an endorsement of the product or a referral from a friend. 

Striving for authenticity sometimes can be a humbling exercise. You’ll want to provide podcast hosts with key product talking points to weave into their content, but if you’re too prescriptive, the review will ring false. Likewise, a comedy podcast host may make jokes at your brand’s expense. If that’s unacceptable to your company — even if you’re seeing ROI — that podcast is probably the wrong fit. 

More podcasts are made available every day, each one a new opportunity for your brand’s advertising. Keep your ears open for interesting content and compelling hosts, and put the power of AI-powered technology and metrics behind your messaging to ensure advertising success.

As the EVP of Operations at Veritone One, Sean King manages the day to day operations of the agency teams – covering radio, podcast, YouTube, and television. He brings over 15 years of media, marketing, and operations experience to Veritone One. Sean has held various senior level management positions focusing on sales management, technology operations, and strategic partnership development over his career. Sean brings his forward thinking operational insights to the Veritone One team in addition to all of their clients and media partners.