In an exclusive guest post for ClickZ Thomas Mancusi, VP Sales & Development for AudioBoom , explains why marketers should consider podcast advertising, and how to outsmart ad-skipping behavior to ensure ROI.
In an age when brands face a relentless battle for relevance , marketers are continuously searching for the most cost-effective and efficient way to engage with audiences that delivers the strongest return on investment.
As consumers become savvier and even skeptical of the often-forced nature of advertising, it has become harder for brands to keep people’s attention, with many automatically skipping past ads – whether it’s fast-forwarding on TV using DVRs, changing the station on the radio or immediately skipping past digital ads online.
However, smart brands are quickly catching on to what used to be something of an industry secret: podcast advertising works remarkably well. There is a reason that so many brands are redistributing their ad-spend budgets, ensuring that podcasts are allocated a significant piece of the pie.
The power of podcast advertising
AdWeek  recently reported that people prefer ads in podcasts over ads on any other digital medium, referencing that podcast advertisements are found to be the least intrusive. Importantly, listeners also seem to be moving through the purchase funnel after hearing them, with high engagement rates recorded among respondents.
This claim came from research conducted by ComScore —a U.S. study of 2,000 respondents aged 18-49 —in which two-thirds of podcast listeners reported responding to podcast ads by engaging in research and/or purchase-related behaviors.
With 57 million Americans listening to podcasts every month, brands would be remiss not to consider investing in ad spend for this increasingly impactful medium. As the on-demand audio space continues to see success, advertisers do seem to be taking note.
According to Statista , U.S. advertising spending in podcasts is estimated to reach 256 million U.S. dollars in 2018, up from 133 million in 2015. That’s huge! Especially considering the medium is still maturing – the opportunities over the next few years are going to be significant.
What are the key ingredients that make podcast advertising so successful? The reasons that more advertisers are flocking to use podcasts to connect with new audiences boils down to three important elements:
Podcast audiences are actively seeking out their audio content
Listeners are searching, subscribing and downloading relevant shows, which makes them engaged listeners who wouldn’t switch the dial and tune out when ads begin to run, like in radio. Most podcast platforms also limit the ad segments to 3-4 spots for a 1 hour show, offering advertisers a remarkably high share of voice compared to other mediums.
Podcasts are inherently intimate
Most people listen through headphones as the content is delivered in a one-to-one setting. As people build affinity with certain shows and presenters, it helps to generate a personal connection with the listener, gaining greater trust.
Ads are delivered by hosts, who often act as an endorser of the product or service
In most cases, the hosts are given the products to test and try for themselves, which helps add a level of authenticity to their endorsements. Due to the trust that they build with their listeners, the hosts can also be considered influencers , so an endorsement from them goes further.
How to beat ad-skipping
Listeners are aware that they are getting this relevant content for free and most are happy to not only listen to ads, but support the brands advertising on the shows they download to ensure they can keep running.
Above all else, the real success in reducing ad-skipping and driving consumers through the purchase funnel comes down to how the ads are delivered on podcasts. Unlike any other digital medium, the most effective podcast ads are incorporated within the show itself through live-reads, featured more like an audio product placement than a traditional radio advertisement.
With live-reads, ads are incorporated into the specific shows in an organic way, with the host creating a natural segue into a discussion about the product or service. Teamed with the host’s endorsement, this presents a powerful way for the ad to be delivered.
To add to this, advertisers can tap into the host’s digital influence as many of them will share details of the product or service on their social media channels, extending its reach and impact.
Despite its proven ROI, some advertisers are still hesitant to make the podcast advertising leap because it is difficult to measure its success. Most podcast platforms address this by ensuring the host incorporates a promo-code or vanity URL offering specific discounts for listeners.
This way, advertisers can see exactly how impactful the ad has been because they can track website footfall and code usage.
At the end of the day, an effective ad is valuable for both the listener and the brand. But as I say to all the advertisers that I work with on our platform, “Don’t just take my word for it”. The data and research available tells a compelling story about the medium’s rising influence.
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