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Nielsen At Podcast Movement 2020: Opportunities In A Skyrocketing Industry

5 minute read | November 2020

Podcasting continues to thrive. According to Nielsen Scarborough data, at a 20% rate of growth, the audience for podcasting could double by 2023, and the IAB projects that U.S. podcast advertising revenues will surpass $1 billion by 2021. 

Given the growth and ad opportunities in the podcast space, Arica McKinnon, VP of Client Consulting, discussed how podcast ads drive brand impact during Podcast Movement 2020. Arica’s presentation leveraged insights from more than 250 Nielsen podcast ad effectiveness studies involving 240 brands across auto, CPG, education, financial services, DTC retail and technology. These studies contain ad engagement findings from 541 podcast clips and 195 podcast shows that were tested across various podcast genres. 

She noted that this research, which involves presenting listeners with podcasts’ clips and assessing their engagement versus those not exposed across an array of key brand metrics and content measures allows brands to assess the impact of their advertising and sponsorship on podcasts. 

“When we asked podcast listeners to rate the host of the show they were exposed to, an average of 66% rated the talent or host as excellent or very good, with two-thirds describing the talent as likable and 42% describing the talent as credible,” said Arica. “Podcasting is known for having host-read ads, which come off as authentic to listeners because the talent actually has a personal experience with the brand. So it’s natural to select a host that is more credible, reliable and fun to sell your products.” 

Arica continued, “Our analysis across our studies demonstrates that exposure to mid-roll ads yield stronger content scores, and shows that 64% of those exposed indicated that they would seek similar content in the future, driving  a 5% increase over those who were exposed to the pre-roll ad.” 

A wide spectrum of clients and advertisers are coming into the space, and advertisers are finding value and continue to take advantage of host-read ads and tailor-made messages for specific consumer segments. 

Following Arica’s presentation, Bruce Supovitz, SVP of National Audio Services, hosted two panels on ways to use industry insights to optimize monetization opportunities in podcasts. Panelists discussed the importance of these metrics in providing accountability to brands and media agencies as well as the impact of host-read advertising as compared to more traditional advertising modalities. 

“What has been a pleasant surprise to me, as someone who sees all the requests coming through from the various podcasters on these studies, is a really wide spectrum of clients and advertisers coming into this space,” said Bruce. “It’s refreshing, and I think it speaks highly of the medium that they are putting their dollars into it, whether it be a direct-response client or a well-known brand.”

David Cohn, VP, Head of Sales at Megaphone elaborated, “In a fast-growing medium like podcasting, it’s important to have consistent ad measurement, and for that measurement to clearly prove whether the ads are effective.”

Advertising effectiveness is of paramount importance for brands and advertisers, and having ways with which to showcase the differences of specific audiences is a part of the future trajectory of understanding this much coveted space. 

“There’s a lot of discussion around podcasting and the opportunities that podcasts represent in the marketplace,” said David Shiffman, EVP, National Research, iHeart Media. “Having the ability to provide the measurement around different brand metrics, all the way through purchase intent really lets brands and agencies feel comfortable and ensures that we can provide accountability back to them in terms of what this still relatively new medium is going to do for them.” 

In speaking about the collaborative effort between brands, agencies and advertisers as it pertains to custom content, Bob Hunt, Senior Director of Audio at Hearts & Science, said “Having the ability to test custom content that we are putting into the marketplace and being able to compare one piece of content versus another is also really helpful, whether it is looking at brand lifts or analyzing it from a creative perspective to ensure that we are giving listeners the exact type of experience that they are looking for.” 

Prior to the second panel, Tony Hereau, VP of Audience Insights, presented on making the case for brand advertising. He spoke about podcast Insights on financial, retail, and automotive consumers, and the young and affluent audience that podcasting appeals to.  

As advertisers saturate the space, and certain sectors are seeing explosive growth, Tony also mentioned that the demographic of the consumer who listens to podcasting is highly coveted.

“Podcasting attracts young consumers and an educated audience with high incomes,” said Tony. “When we compare the audience of podcast listeners to the total U.S., we see a higher concentration among the 18-44 age group.”

Panelists also discussed the role of matching buyers and advertisers to unique business opportunities and use cases in a discussion following Tony’s talk. The group also talked about the importance of helping advertisers reach scale through expanding their understanding of how podcasting aligns with target audiences, in order to maximize planning and optimization.

“When using Nielsen’s Podcast Buyer Insights, we have been excited about the ability to have a conversation with a brand or a performance advertiser to understand the market opportunity in this space,” said Conor Doyle, SVP, Strategy and Investment at Veritone One. 

As brands and advertisers continue to look for the best places to reach audiences, looking at the audience composition is a way to ensure that brands are resonating most. 

“There is a huge interest in the profile of audience,” said Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer, Cumulus Media/Westwood One. “There were a  number of companies measuring raw audience or rank, but no one was showing the buying habits of the consumer. We knew brands were looking for certain consumer profiles to connect to specific titles.” 

In describing the importance of understanding the nuances of what kind of content is most appropriate for audiences and advertisers, Paul Riismandel, Sr. Director of Marketing & Insights at Stitcher/Midroll said, “Content is king, but it is certainly for content that advertisers and audiences are interested in. It really helps us to look at how we put shows together into packages, and how we help advertisers reach scale by looking not just at the content vertical but also looking at the audiences themselves. 

“As the podcast advertising space continues to expand, the industry’s need to find out what will most resonate with audiences is paramount,” said Bruce. By analyzing podcast listening habits and  attaching them to the same robust categories that have been used to make brand buys or planning decisions for decades, podcasting will be part of a more even playing field with all other media.