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Trending Up: Podcast Developments That Will Influence Your Ad Strategy

Trending Up: Podcast Developments That Will Influence Your Ad Strategy 

If you’re not already setting aside some of your budget for podcast ads, it may be time to reconsider—your competition certainly is.  

Podcast ad spending will reach $2.75 billion by 2025, representing a more than 107% YoY increase from 2021. 

If you look at the world’s present state, podcast advertising’s ascent isn’t that surprising. It was inevitable.  

Think about it: What’s one of the primary reasons more than half of the US population listened to podcasts in 2021?

They give people of all ages, interests, and backgrounds an effortless way to consume engaging content and learn something new.

To help you make the most of this trend, we took a look at our data and pulled some insights you can use to make smart ad-buying decisions this year. 

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Podcast Advertising Trends to Consider Before Allocating Your Budget

Advertisers Favor a Few Podcast Genres

While the podcast world is diverse and offers listeners an abundance of choice, advertisers remain focused on a few genres: True Crime, Comedy and News and Politics. 

True Crime

In 2021, over one thousand advertisers from more than 650 companies bought ads on True Crime podcasts (19% and 20% more than last year), like Crime Junkie, My Favorite Murder with Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark and Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

Collectively, these companies spent 15% more on ads than they did in 2020, which makes sense given the world’s fascination with true crime. 

According to Edison Research’s US Top 50 Podcast chart for Q4 2021, three of the top 10 podcasts in the US (ranked by weekly listeners) fall into this genre.  


Comedy podcasts get a lot of attention as well.  

In 2021, the Comedy genre—think podcasts like Office Ladies and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend—saw ad buys increase by 20%. The number of companies advertising increased by 26% YoY.

Additionally, the number of brands buying ads increased 30% YoY from 2020. 

News and Politics

News and Politics podcasts such as The Daily and Dateline NBC saw 1,200 companies (37% YoY) advertise nearly 2,000 brands (29% YoY increase) in 2021. 

Overall, spending increased by 20% YoY. 

Mid-roll Ads Are Preferred (for Good Reason)

Given podcast advertising’s relatively nascent status, ad formats are limited, especially compared to other ecosystems that have more advertising real estate to sell.  

Still, our data speaks to the why behind the rise of podcast advertising. 

Let’s break this down by genre: 

True Crime: 58% of ads were mid-roll; 25% of the ads were pre-roll. 

Comedy: 52% of ads were mid-roll; 27% of those ads were dedicated to more than 60 seconds. 

News and Politics: 55% of ads were mid-roll; 24% were pre-roll; 21% were post-roll. 

What does this data say and what can it tell us about how brands currently think about podcast advertising? 

The main takeaway is that mid-roll ads are unquestionably the most popular format, which makes sense. 

Someone listening to a podcast episode did so intentionally—and as they listen, they’re expecting an engaging and immersive experience. They wouldn’t be there otherwise. 

Advertisers understand the intent and see the opportunity to get in front of listeners in an authentic way when their target audience is in the right mindset.   

Mid-roll ads take full advantage of this by inserting the message during peak engagement and, therefore, when someone should be inherently more receptive to a relevant ad. 

Host-read Ads Are on the Decline

If there’s one thing that’s helped propel podcast advertising to the top of the charts more than anything else, it’s that listeners don’t mind hearing ads from hosts. In fact, a lot of people like them.

According to Edison Research’s Super Listeners 2020 study, 45% of the podcast listeners surveyed agreed that the hosts of their favorite podcasts use the products and services they mention on their shows. 

78% of consumers don’t mind hearing podcast ads and 62% would consider buying a product after hearing an ad.

Given their swaying power, it’s surprising that host-read ads are becoming less common.

  • When we looked at the True Crime genre, host-read ads decreased from 73% in 2020 to 59% in 2021. 
  • In the Comedy genre, host-read ads dropped from 82% to 66% during the same timeframe.  
  • News and Politics fell to 39% after seeing 51% of ads dedicated to the host-read variety in 2020.

The noticeable decrease across the board begs the question: Why’s this happening and where is the ad spend going instead?  

Programmatic Podcast Ads: The Start of Something New

The exact reason behind the sudden decline of host-read ads is unclear, but recent developments can help us paint a pretty clear picture—one that has programmatic advertising as the focal point. 

Case and point: iHeartMedia acquired Triton Digital, an audio ad tech platform, in 2021. 

A few months later, Spotify purchased the Australian-based podcast tech platform, Whooshkaa. This helped it build upon a big 2020 that saw it unveil “new features for Streaming Ad Insertion, unlocked podcast ad buying in Spotify Ad Studio and introduced the Spotify Audience Network.” 

Spotify didn’t stop there. 

In February 2022, the company acquired Podsights and Chartable to enhance the analytical side of its offering and help advertisers measure performance and scale.

The writing is on the wall. 

Podcast advertising is going programmatic.

But is this a smart move? 

If podcast advertising follows a similar story arc as more established ad ecosystems, then yes, the move to programmatic is wise.

As ecosystems mature and more people and brands migrate to them, advertising quickly becomes unruly; there are too many moving pieces and competition. Programmatic technology is the only way for advertisers and media buyers to keep up and scale. 

The shift to programmatic may be a bit surprising, but the bottom line is that podcasting and its advertising capabilities are maturing.

MediaRadar will be releasing more details on the latest podcast trends in an upcoming trend report. Sign up for our latest trend reports here.