So You Want to Advertise on Podcasts?

So You Want to Advertise on Podcasts?

Due to rising interest rates and economic uncertainty, advertisers scaled back on ad spending in the first half of 2023. But as Inside Audio Marketing reports, audio fared better than other media channels. Magazines were down 18%, newspapers decreased 17%, and linear television was down 10%, while audio ad spending (including broadcast radio, streaming audio, and podcasts) was down just 5%.

Of all the audio segments, podcasting was the “big winner,” with ad billings increasing 57% year-over-year to make it the fastest-growing media type. 

I spoke with Lee Syatt, SMI Podcast Operations, about the surge in podcast billings. Syatt said that the Infinite Dial report has shown for years that podcast listenership continues to grow. This year’s report revealed that 64% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, a 45% increase from five years ago. In 2018, 44% of the U.S. population had listened to a podcast. “Increased listenership means more people are engaging with podcasts,” said Syatt. He said that celebrity-driven shows and shows from big media partners (such as ESPN) drive listeners who may not have listened previously.  “With podcasts being more mainstream, we are seeing a lot more legacy brands get into podcasting, like McDonalds, T-Mobile, State Farm, Discover, and Capital One.” 

More advertisers are recognizing the power of podcast advertising to build brand awareness and they are including it in their growth marketing strategy. With this increase we are seeing more competition for exclusivity with top podcasts “The increase in podcast ad spend means that there is going to be more competition for companies looking to advertise on podcasts,” said Syatt, “but with the right agency behind them, brands will be able to invest their ad dollars wisely.” 

Companies who have not yet advertised on podcasts may not be aware of the incredible amount of data and insight that can be achieved through podcast advertising. For example, at SMI, we use data points from directly attributable leads, data captured at checkout in the “How did you hear about us” (HDYHAU) survey, pixel data, and insights from Google Analytics (GA) or Looker.  

“Having a multi-touch attribution model like SMI’s provides detailed performance insights to measure results and give advertisers access to critical customer behaviors.” Syatt said.

If you’re ready to advertise on the fastest-growing media channel, contact SMI today.

Do Americans Spend More Time Listening to AM/FM Radio or Podcasts?

Do Americans Spend More Time Listening to AM/FM Radio or Podcasts?

Edison Research’s latest quarterly “Share of Ear” report surveyed 4,000 Americans to measure daily reach and time spent with all forms of audio. Here are their key findings.

Nearly one out of every five minutes Americans spent listening to ad-supported audio in Q1 was spent listening to podcasts. This earned podcasts a 17% of the total share of ear, more than ad-supported SiriusXM (4%), ad-supported Pandora (4%), and ad-supported Spotify (4%). The winner? With a whopping 4 times the share of podcasting among adults 18 and over, AM/FM radio claims 71% of Americans’ total time spent with ad-supported audio. 


Podcast audiences are still growing, and among adults 25-54, the gap between time spent with AM/FM radio and podcasting is much smaller. Among that age group, broadcast radio’s lead is half as large, with 21% of ad-supported audio time spent with podcasting versus 52% of time spent with AM/FM radio.


“Podcast audiences have exploded,” writes Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media and Westwood One, on Westwood One’s Blog. According to Bouvard, “Prior to 2020, podcast audience growth was gradual. In 2021, podcast audiences went into hyper drive. Podcasts now have an 8.9 share of overall audio and a 17 share of all U.S. ad-supported audio.”

Among 18- to 49-year-olds, podcasts reach 34% of Americans daily, up four-fold since 2016. “Podcasting now has the scale that a lot of marketers said it lacked a few years ago—there is reach to be found in podcasting,” Bouvard said.


Podcasts are growing at an even greater rate among older adults, with adults 45-54 seeing a 633% increase from 2017 to 2022, and adults 55+ seeing more than 500% growth.


“Over the last few years we have seen an explosion of different access points in Podcasting,” said Andrew Nelson, Podcast Buyer at SMI. “With the medium taking up a larger and larger share of listening time, there is a show or network for everyone – meaning advertisers have a wider and more diverse audience to get in front of.”


Are you ready to hear your brand’s message where audio listeners tune into most? Contact SMI to advertise on AM/FM radio or podcasts today.

SMI’s Lisa Risk on Podcast Movement Panel

SMI’s Lisa Risk on Podcast Movement Panel

SMI’s Podcast Strategist Lisa Risk shared her expertise as a panelist at Podcast Movement, the world’s largest podcast conference, which took place in Denver, Colorado in August. 


Risk participated alongside other podcast industry professionals in a panel titled What do buyers want from the podcasting industry?” Panelists discussed current challenges faced by podcast advertisers. For instance, there is a lack of industry standards in terms of measurement and attribution, and in what is considered a download. According to Risk, “There are several third-party options for data, measurement, and attribution currently available. They are all very similar but each has unique aspects.” Risk said that with a shift from baked-in to dynamic ad insertion (DAI) for ad delivery, there has also been a shift from selling and buying by download to selling and buying by impression. But there is some discrepancy regarding what counts as an impression. If an ad is served twice in one listening experience or downloaded episode, for instance, does that count as two impressions? “In my opinion, it should count as one,” said Risk, “but many groups are counting those as two impressions.”

According to Risk, adding impression caps of delivery to schedules could prevent advertisers from hitting the same listener over and over again. “But there are no industry standards around that,” she said, “and only some groups are even able to do it.”

The panel also discussed why podcasting and audio perform poorly in mixed media modeling (MMM). On this topic, Risk said that audio does not have the same reach and lift that we see from video, and overall lift is how these studies are measured. But, Risk said, “When we look at structured tests with measurable KPI’s, we can see and measure the impact of audio.”

Despite certain challenges, Risk said there are new sources of new money coming into podcasting. Podcast budgets often come from digital and TV. “Brands are seeing success with digital and look to podcast to further growth,” she said.


“Transparency and industry standards are two important pieces that buyers want from industry partners and networks,” Risk said. But even as the industry moves toward these things, the podcast medium continues to be an exciting, profitable medium for advertisers looking to grow their brand.

Want to learn how you can grow your brand on podcasts? Contact SMI today to hear our expert recommendations for reaching new audiences on podcast.

Podcasters are More Influential than Social Media Influencers, Study Finds

Podcasters are More Influential than Social Media Influencers, Study Finds

A new study by Magna’s Media Trials and Vox Media shows that podcasters are one of today’s most influential figures in media. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they value podcasters’ influence more than they value that of social media influencers (15%) and TV/movie celebrities (10%). As Inside Radio put it, “podcasters have effectively dethroned social influencers.

The study found that podcasts fill a void that shorter-form content cannot. “While short form content satisfies dwindling attention spans, podcasts deliver on the high-quality, in-depth information consumers crave,” the report said. Listeners said podcasts offer more in-depth information and exposure to current topics than other media, including social media and video apps like TikTok. Seventy-nine percent said they see podcasts as being superior to social media content, and 80% said they feel like they are friends with fellow listeners as they listen to a podcast.


My big takeaway from this is how connected listeners are with podcasts,” Lee Syatt, Podcast Operations at SMI, said of the study. “No one feels like they are friends with their favorite actor.” Syatt believes the frequency of podcasts helps evoke a sense of connection. “Podcasts allow listeners into the daily lives and homes of their favorite hosts. Most television shows do 20 episodes a year if they are lucky,” he said. “There are big breaks between seasons, sometimes lasting more than a year. A popular podcast can release at least 50 episodes a year, and many release episodes multiple times a week which can bring their total to well over 100 episodes a year. Podcasts to me, at their best, are a long voicemail from the funniest, most interesting, and entertaining people in the world, delivered for free.” 


According to the report, “Intimacy becomes influence.” Syatt agrees that the connection listeners feel with podcast hosts helps with advertising. “Listeners feel like they are helping out a friend when they support a show’s sponsor,” said Syatt. The study found that 88% of respondents engage in activities to support their favorite podcasters outside of the podcast. Those activities could include purchasing a product advertised on the show. 


Fifty-one percent of respondents reported being persuaded by a podcast ad to buy or try a product. For Millennials, that number rose to 70%. 

I think one reason for the higher value that people are putting onto podcast host recommendations has to do with the way the medium it consumed,” said Lisa Risk, SMI’s Podcast Strategist. “Podcast listeners actively seek out their favorite show or host in order to listen to the show, usually by subscribing to a show and having it auto-download or by searching for the show each time they listen. In contrast, many social media and TV ads are consumed while scrolling through social media or flipping through the TV channels.”


Podcast listeners actively seek out podcast content, are highly engaged while listening to it, and actively engage in supporting their favorite podcasters. And podcast audiences are exploding. According to the report, monthly podcast listenership is expected to grow by double digits in the next five years, with an estimated 60% of Americans listening to podcasts at least once a month.

Want to hear your brand on the most influential medium? Contact SMI today to find out how you can advertise on podcasts.

Want Engaged Audiences for Your Ads? Advertise on Podcasts.

Want Engaged Audiences for Your Ads? Advertise on Podcasts.

The podcast medium continues to explode, with listenership growing 70% in just the past 4-5 years, Inside Radio reports. Podcasts now have well over 150 million monthly listeners in the US. And, as a new study shows, those listeners are paying attention.


A third of podcast listeners (33%) pay more attention to podcast ads than they do to other ads on other media, according to the customer experience platform DISQO. For those who listen to podcasts daily, that number jumps to 45%.

About two-thirds of consumers indicated that they either don’t mind or actively enjoy podcast ads. And podcast ads are better received by younger adults, who also happen to be the most frequent listeners.


According to Lisa Risk, SMI’s Podcast Strategist, Podcast’s ability to maintain listeners’ attention is largely due to the power of host-read ads. “I think it’s the relationship between the podcast listener and the podcast host that is the driving force here. Podcast listeners are more engaged to ads largely because they feel connected to the host and there’s a layer of trust there,” Risk said.


DISQO surveyed 34,841 consumers in their audience from April 6 to 8, 2023. Questions focused on podcast utilization (e.g., how often, which platforms, concurrent behaviors), search process (e.g., where they get recommendations, allure of host versus content), and advertising perceptions (e.g., sentiment, attention).

“Driven by its audio-only format, engaged listener base, and host-supported creative, we see fairly compelling evidence that podcast ads command more attention than ads in other digital channels,” the report says. “Approximately one-third of consumers report that they pay more attention to podcast ads compared to other mediums, while only about one-fourth say they pay less relative attention to podcast ads. While this difference isn’t overwhelmingly large, it does suggest that consumers can be more influenced by podcast ads.”


SMI’s Director of Client Services Christina Baeten cautions that, while a good guideline, the numbers in the study are a macro view and shouldn’t be applied at the individual show level. “The stats are generalized by age, gender, and listening habits, and only an agency with extensive history and a results-driven approach to audio advertising knows which shows or hosts meet or exceed performance targets,” Baeten said. “It all has to do with audience engagement. Does the show’s host do personal endorsements or just read talking points? Do their listeners generally engage with the brands they advertise? Are the ads served in an unobtrusive way? A smart agency has these insights at the show level and will make recommendations accordingly for your brand.”

Want to hear SMI’s expert recommendations for growing your brand on podcasts? Find the best strategy for reaching Podcast’s engaged audience. Contact SMI today.