Finding the Frequency: Programmatic & Podcasts

The tune is changing for audio advertising as programmatic advertisers attempt to find the right strategy & frequency for reaching niche audiences, and podcasts may very well be an answer.

For some marketers, audio advertising evokes thoughts of AM radio programming appealing to a demographic they aren’t interested in. For others, audio advertising means glossed over placements played in the background of the workout playlist of a digital radio listener who hasn’t sprung for a premium, ad-free experience.

However, for some marketers, audio advertising means a chance to captivate young, affluent, and highly attentive listeners who are otherwise difficult to reach. Those marketers understand the power of podcasts.

According to a recent report, 73 million US residents listen to podcasts every month, and that number is expected to increase to nearly 80 million by 2020. While this growth rate is promising, what’s more interesting are the characteristics and behaviors of podcast listeners, who skew younger & more affluent, are more attentive, and are more consistent in their media consumption.

Indeed, according to eMarketer, podcast listeners skew “younger, more educated, and more affluent” than the general population, making them relatively attractive for brand marketers.

They’re also more attentive. Due to the nature of the programming, podcast listeners are more attentive — both during scheduled programming and advertisements — than those simply listening to music in the background. As Bryan Moffet, COO of NPM told eMarketer, “Podcasts are much more likely to be an intentional, foreground experience. Someone tunes in because they want to listen and want to absorb it.”

To compound the advertiser appeal, podcast listeners are consistent. A majority (52%) listen to 4 or more podcasts per week, making it easy for marketers to reach these individuals on a regular cadence.

The State of Podcast Advertising
While podcast listener attributes and behaviors are understandably appealing for many marketers, buying placements hasn’t been the easiest.

First, available inventory is limited. Unlike radio programming, podcasts typically limit the number of ads they run, placing constraints on the number of placements available. Likewise, many podcast publishers are keenly focused on ensuring their ad placements are relevant to the content within each episode, further constraining advertisers in their effort to maintain a positive user experience.

Second, most placements are filled via direct deals with publishers for host-read ads, leaving only one third of the inventory available for pre-produced ads. While some advertisers may be keen on the sponsorship model that lends itself well for host-read ads, performance focused marketers would rather target an individual listener throughout their day — and across podcasts — than pay for content-specific plugs.

Finally, as podcasts serve niche interests, finding the right content to buy into can prove too time consuming for many marketers. Fortunately, moves to make some of this inventory available programmatically is reducing this strain, making podcast advertising more accessible than ever before. As DSPs expand their digital audio inventory to include more podcasts, expect an increasing share of test budgets to be allocated to this area.

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Do you include digital audio in your media mix? If so, how have podcast placements fared for your campaign KPIs? Let us know by joining the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

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