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What Does Podcast Advertising Look Like?

What Does Podcast Advertising Look Like?

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There’s no question that podcasts are going mainstream: 62 million Americans listen to podcasts each week, which is more than triple the number from 2013. 

At the same time, podcast advertising is increasing. The Interactive Advertising Bureau expects ad revenue from podcasting to reach $1 billion in just a couple of years. 

Back in December, as part of our “12 Ads of Christmas” series, we highlighted two podcast ads that showcase just how effective podcast advertising can be. They are engaging, typically host-read and to the point without losing the feel of each individual podcast. 

“Podcasts are shifting from a ‘nice to have’ element of marketers’ brand campaigns to becoming integral elements,” Rachel Lowenstein, associate director of Invention+ at Mindshare, told The Wall Street Journal. 

The article also quotes Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports (which generated more than $22 million in ad revenue in 2019): “Podcasting is a great medium because there’s essentially a relationship between a host and a listener—they are in your ears, they are telling you stories and it creates an ongoing relationship. That’s also what makes advertising so effective.”

If podcast advertising is so effective, what does advertising through this medium actually look like? In this post, we use MediaRadar data to assess how advertising fits in with the average podcast. 

Want more insight? See who is buying podcast ads — and their holistic ad strategy — with MediaRadar Podcasts

What are the number of ad slots per podcast? 

While the format is relatively new, advertising on podcasts is pretty formulaic. The average podcast has 3 ads per podcast. Across all podcasts, there is little variance on the structure of a pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll ad for each episode. 

Of those 3 ads, typically 1 will be an in-house ad (or a promo): this is an ad that highlights another program by the same broadcaster. So, realistically, the average podcast has 2 spots from outside advertisers. However, this average is skewed by some podcasts that run numerous ads. Over 20 percent of podcasts have five or more ads per episode. 

One example of an extreme outlier is ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith show, which averages 9 ads per 35 minute show. 

What does ad length look like? 

Unlike TV or radio, podcast ad lengths are not standardized. Spots can vary in length considerably. There are some general trends, but these are by no means rigid. 

The trend shows that pre- and post-roll ads are roughly 30 seconds, while mid-roll ads average almost a full minute. Endorsements tend to be long: they are almost always over 60 seconds, with an average of almost a minute and a half!

Host-read ads are king of podcast creatives

As we highlighted in our 12 Ads of Christmas post, podcast advertising is appealing because it connects with an engaged, typically niche audience. Part of the engagement comes from the fact that many podcast ads are host-read. Out of all podcast ads, more than 50 percent are read by the host. 

This format especially concentrated in mid-roll, where 69 percent of all ads are host-read. Even more telling is the fact that host-read ads have higher renewal rates than pre-recorded ads.

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