Nate Silver’s 538 Site and Marketplace.org took a deep dive into podcast advertising last week. 

538 had a reporter/intern take the ads from each of the top 100 podcasts on the iTunes chart that have advertisements (38 do not) and lay them out in a spreadsheet. 162 of the 186 (87%) monitored ads had a direct response component – people were urged to click to a site and fill out a coupon code or something similiar.  Now there is nothing inherently wrong with direct response advertising; after all, many advertisers are looking for leads.  But it is often viewed as a lesser form of advertising.  I'm not sure SquareSpace or Mail Chimp would agree at all with that assessment.   

As long as podcasts deliver a measurable ROI (Return On Investment) for clients, the business will grow. That's the good news.  

What is clearly holding back greater growth and adoption by more advertisers, however, is universal measurement that goes beyond vague download numbers.  Advertisers are looking for data that demonstrates what was actually listened to, when the listening occurred, and augmented by demographic and psychographic data.

Advertising budget increases always trail two important factors - growth in users and usable metrics (Think Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube - they all have built substantial "audience" before scalable monetization occurred).  

The overall podcast audience is growing.  We know that.  And the data exist, but in silos and often hard to get to.  The stakeholders in the podcasting business need to figure this out so that we can move beyond "enter the promo code" advertising and tap into lucrative brand advertising budgets.  I spoke with a representative of the IAB's podcast task force last week and they are ferociously looking to tackle the impediments to ad growth in the audio on-demand sector.  

Go to it.

Sales dollars chase ears ..... not downloads.  

538 Anatomy of a podcast ad.

Here's the full article from 538.  

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