In recent years the digital audio market has undergone a huge change as more and more of us have entered into the world of streaming music, digital radio and podcasts, this change has been largely influenced by the way we now use our mobile devices as well as voice activated speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.

This change in behaviour and technology has led to brands and advertisers now seeing digital audio as an essential part of every campaign and in particular podcast advertising.

Why? I hear you ask.

Well the world of podcasts is now turning into a huge market with 7.6 million people in the UK listening to a podcast every week, up 25% year on year! A fantastic opportunity for advertisers to reach users in a good, safe environment, whilst they are fully immersed in their favourite pod.

So, what’s the deal with podcasts?

With every digital media you can think of at the tap of a fingertip, why are people choosing podcasts over other channels? Well, exactly that. We’re living in an age where we’re bombarded with media every second – sight, sound, even smell (we’re looking at you scent activated OOH) that we’re going into overload. Podcasts offer a stripped back comfort that allows a user to completely immerse in a narrative. What’s more, the medium is inherently mobile – perfect for on the go and you can curate to your own tastes rather than what’s being played on Radio 1.

Who’s listening?

So, who are all these podcast listeners? Two-thirds of listeners are aged 16-34, indicating that advertising on podcasts is becoming a huge opportunity for brands to target millennials.

Some of the most popular podcasts with this audience include: My Dad Wrote a Porno, TED Talks, 5 Live’s Football Daily and No Such Thing As A Fish. There are also podcasts that compliment either TV Shows, Films or Radio shows. A great example of this is the Love Island: The Morning After podcast which provided a great opportunity for brands to sponsor both the TV Show and the podcast, much like Uber Eats did across the TV show, App and Podcast reaching viewers across all touchpoints.

How do they discover podcasts?

Whilst podcasts are by no means big reach drivers (you won’t be seeing them replacing TV in the media plan anytime soon) there are some shows that are gaining traction; My Dad Wrote a Porno has had over 180m downloads since its release. Sponsoring specific shows offers you contextual relevance and native ad opportunities (often the presenters will talk about your product mid-podcast as part of brand deals for a more frictionless experience).

However you can also take advantage of programmatic podcast advertising platforms like Acast to achieve more scale and with 76% of podcast listeners having acted upon an ad* then a comparatively low reach number turns into an impressively large action number.

Not just a podcast, a friend.

Podcasters form a unique personal relationship with their listeners (much like influencers), they build a trust with them – much like you would with a friend.
Audio tends to trigger an emotive connection from consumers (whether that be music or podcasts), allowing a prime opportunity for advertisers to take advantage of those positive emotions and integrate their product with listeners.

They really work!

Ads within podcasts work. 76% of listeners said they have followed up on an ad or sponsored message which they heard on a podcast(s) (research from Acast). These facts have not been ignored, especially by tech giants Google and Spotify who have been investing heavily in podcast networks in order to strengthen their audio offerings.

Google will soon be taking the step to make podcast episodes available in search results allowing users to select an episode and go through to the ‘Google Podcasts’ web app. This will also be available on Google Assistant, where users can request ‘Hey Google, play a podcast about vegetarian food’ for example. Eventually Google want to be able to also support third-party playback as they understand that some podcasts are exclusive to certain platforms. This just shows how this global company are understanding the growing demand from users to find and listen to podcasts.

On the other hand Spotify are trying to appeal to the podcasters in order to drive the podcast content on their platform, which will in turn appeal to listeners (clever!). They are doing this by rolling out a ‘podcasters dashboard’ this will allow podcasters to see data about their listeners such as music taste, age, gender, location etc. This is huge for podcasters as they have long lacked data about their audiences which makes it very difficult when trying to sell ads – this will mean better choice and more detail for advertisers too, as there will be solid data to confirm they are hitting their target audience (great work Spotify!).

It’s not just the tech giants that are adapting their businesses to this new landscape, it’s the radio stations too. Global has created DAX, BBC has launched the ‘BBC Sounds’ app and Bauer has just launched a product called ‘In-Stream’ which will host their digital audio and podcasts across a number of their brands.

Podcasts and advertisers = Couple goals

So with podcasts offering such a huge opportunity for advertisers how should they be using this unique medium to their advantage?

Well whilst this market is not overcrowded, advertisers need to jump onto this opportunity where they will have a strong share of voice and a high chance of brand recall. Also with the opportunity to create native ads using the presenters it makes ads non-intrusive. This can mean advertisers can become a valued – or at least, accepted – part of the content experience for media consumers.

So what are you waiting for? If podcast’s aren’t already part of your advertising mix it is time you gave them some serious consideration.