Insights: What the Podcast Boom Means for Advertising


TL;DR: Podcasts aren’t a bubble but a boom that’s getting louder each day, resulting in opportunities to target hard-to-reach audiences in a more meaningful way.

Welcome to the year 2018, where despite being more than a decade old, podcasts are thriving.

If you’re not one of the 112 million podcast listeners in the U.S., you may be wondering: “What is at the root of this hype, and how does it affect marketing?” Do read on.

Yesterday and Today

Since the birth of podcasts in 2005, there have been highs and lows for the medium. Today is definitely a high point. Since early 2015, the uptick in popularity of the search term has started coming back, and there are a few reasons why that’s happening:

  • More content: More content equals more demand. Variety reports there are more than 500,000 active podcasts in more than 100 languages.

  • In-car audio (a.k.a. the trick to surviving big city traffic): With better sound quality, less bothersome ads and a larger range of content, podcasts are becoming the go-to source for in-car listening.

  • Growth of mobile: Since podcasts first came out, data speeds have increased substantially and smartphone owners have boomed, making it easy to find, download and listen on the go.

  • Monetization: Many new podcasts are actually profitable (despite popular belief). New models for publishing and monetizing are developing as the space matures, making hosting a podcast more lucrative than ever.

With this success, of course, comes a greater opportunity for advertisers.

Podcasts and Advertising

You know podcast ads are the real deal when IAB releases a guide for marketers, including information on measuring ad effectiveness, podcast ad formats and treatments, plus targeting and delivery.

What is most interesting about podcast advertising is that it reaches a typically tough demographic.

As podcast listeners are a prime market (even “the holy grail of engagement,” according to podcasters and advertisers), it makes sense that the medium is garnering more attention. Podcasts are inherently intimate, creating a feeling of closeness between listeners and hosts, whose product recommendations you trust and work you care to support.

What is most interesting about podcast advertising is that it reaches a typically tough demographic: highly educated and affluent Millennial professionals. Podcasts are looking like the way to meaningfully market to this demographic.

via Nielsen

via Nielsen


But what do these “pod ads” look like? The best are entertaining, native spots following the organic style of the show that keep people engaged, not skipping. And now there’s data (see: Apple’s Podcast Analytics) that proves it.

What’s Next

Just as social media changes on a daily basis, so does advertising (see: digital advertising spending). At Sparkloft, we make it a point to be open-minded, as malleable marketers should be, because everything changes and everything is social.

That said, it’s critical to keep two eyes on emerging shifts in advertising practices, and to constantly be adding to your advertising tool box. Perhaps podcast ads are the next tool to add!

Curious to learn more about how social is evolving? Check this out.

More blog posts you might find interesting...