The research is in: here’s the type of podcast ad that brands should shape their strategy around in 2024—and the type they should skip.

Summary:

  • As the medium and listenership continues to evolve, YouTube has emerged as the most utilized platform for accessing podcasts.
  • Consumers describe native YouTube advertising “annoying” and “disruptive”—but have a much more positive opinion of host-read podcast ads.
  • Veritone One can help your brand make the most of the medium as you shape your digital advertising strategy for 2024.

The most popular way to consume audio… is now video.

What a year 2023 was for audio. As we return to work, many of us will start to compile our learnings from the previous year to plan on building out our strategies for the new year. Brands now know that podcast advertising will become—if it isn’t already—an essential part of their digital strategy in 2024.

Per end-of-year stats from Insider Intelligence, 41% of people in the US tune into a podcast every month and 28% of the population do it weekly, consuming around 11 episodes on average. In addition, around 144 million people listen every month.

And where is all this podcast consumption happening, you might ask? This is where YouTube enters the chat.

YouTube as a podcast platform has been growing since 2019. It is currently the most utilized podcast listening platform in the U.S., followed by Spotify and Apple. However, if you are like me, when you are immersed in a podcast on YouTube, nothing ruins the experience more than the jarring native ads that pop up and interrupt your stream. Sometimes they’re much louder than the podcast you’re enjoying; sometimes they’re just a complete shift away from your content that ruins the mood. Even when you’re able to click the “Skip Ad” button after a few seconds, the damage is done—simply put, those ads are aggravating. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

There’s just one problem: traditional advertising is no fit for such a personal medium.

In one of 2023’s most compelling deep dives on the subject, Sounds Profitable’s Sound You Can See: Podcasting’s Video Dilemma, a study showed that native advertising is viewers’ chief complaint with accessing their favorite content on the platform. Yep, turns out no one is a fan of those annoying interruptions.

In fact, the top five terms used by my fellow ad skippers to describe this type of spot were “annoying” (43%), “disruptive” (40%), “too frequent” (26%), “irrelevant” (26%), and “too long” (21%)—hardly the headspace in which your brand wants to reach consumers.

This presents a challenge for brands advertising on YouTube, especially when we consider that the authentic connection podcast hosts can foster with their listeners is the very foundation on which the medium’s success was built.

With over $2 billion in placed media of proprietary host-read ad performance data, Veritone One can confirm the following:

  • Listeners have a better opinion of and pay more attention to ads that are host-read.
  • Hearing the host talk about a product in their own voice reinforces the direct link between the sponsorship and the podcast.
  • That being said, podcast ads delivered by the host come across as more of an intimate recommendation than a paid advertisement, allowing a brand to build credibility in an organic way.
  • Host-read ads within podcasts are considered less jarring than traditional radio or TV ad breaks; because they tend to feel more like content, users are less likely to skip them.

That’s why our ethos at Veritone One is to create ads that enhance, not diminish, the personal connections between podcast hosts and their listeners. Hearing what hosts have to say about their favorite products is just another way to get closer to them—and the hundreds of campaigns we’ve scaled successfully just go to show how lucrative that can be for your brand.

Host-read ads to the rescue!

The same Sounds Profitable study above revealed an interesting dynamic: video and podcast consumers are not by any means mutually exclusive. Oftentimes, they are the same people. And while they consider native ads on YouTube intrusive, viewers express positive sentiment towards ads within podcasts delivered by hosts or other personalities—say, a fan-favorite producer—associated with the show.

And this is especially true for Premium users: close to 90% of those consumers said that they don’t mind host-read ads in their favorite podcast, compared to only 6% who dislike them. The top three attributes these viewers used to describe host-read podcast ads were “informative” (33%), “interesting” (26%), and “relevant” (25%).

As you can see, it’s not the advertisement itself that rankles listeners, but how it’s executed. The right type of podcast ad, fueled by strategically crafted messaging and a targeted media buy, makes all the difference. And that’s where Veritone One enters the chat.

In conclusion, not all podcast ads are created equal.

As we navigate the dynamic landscape of audio in 2024, the surge in audio consumption, particularly on platforms like YouTube, brings both opportunities and challenges to the savvy advertiser. Here at Veritone One, our teams understand the evolving landscape of audio, as well as how best to continue harnessing the power of podcasting’s authentic and influential nature to create meaningful connections with our audience.

The future of audio is exciting, and by aligning our strategies with the preferences of the evolving consumer, we can make 2024 a landmark year for audio advertising. Trust me: you won’t want to skip this.

Edited by Rubi Mora

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A Black podcaster speaks into his microphone.
Diversity in Practice: Amplifying Black Voices in the Podcast Space

See how Veritone One is implementing DEI values into our media plans.

Summary:

  • Despite growing listenership and demand for Black-hosted podcasts, only 14% of podcasters identify as Black.
  • Veritone One has led a thought leadership initiative to combat the lack of diversity in podcasting, including an 15-20% increase of ad spend on minority-owned podcasts.
  • By retooling internal processes to produce quantitative data that informs more diverse media buys, we are helping clients and networks value underserved voices in the podcast ecosystem.

An Industry-Wide Problem

Let’s set the scene: it’s Podcast Movement 2022 in Dallas, Texas, and the Veritone One team is excited, as always, to connect with and learn from our peers in the industry. Among the usual encouraging insights, however, was one disconcerting takeaway: the lack of diversity in podcast advertising and namely, the lack of Black podcasts in the space. According to that year’s The Creators, a study by Edison Research in collaboration with Sounds Profitable, just 14% of podcasters identify as Black and/or African American.

While we appreciated the industry-wide visibility Podcast Movement brought to this issue, we knew that bringing attention to it was just the first step. So, in response, our SVP of Growth Bart Roselli, Account Strategist Kedric Walls, and Senior Podcast Buyer Morganne “Mo” Cameron led the thought leadership initiative for our agency to support underserved voices in the podcast ecosystem.

Speaking to Black Listeners

2023’s edition of Infinite Dial, a long-running annual study by Edison Research, reports that 45% of Black Americans ages 12 and up listen to podcasts each month, while 28% are weekly listeners. The study broke down the top ten podcasts Black Americans listen to as a whole and found that over half feature Black hosts, illustrating the demand for Black voices in the space. The Breakfast Club, Drink Champs, and The Joe Budden Podcast are among the shows topping the list for Black podcast listeners.

People want to hear Black perspectives, to learn from them and in some cases, see their experiences reflected. Another report from Edison Research, in collaboration with SXM Media and Mindshare, the Black Podcast Listener Report, revealed that 75% of Black monthly podcast listeners frequently or occasionally follow or seek out podcast content that focuses on Black narratives and features Black voices, with 63% considering it “crucial” for podcasts to do so.

Furthermore, of special interest to our clients is the fact that Black weekly podcast listeners are more likely to engage with podcast advertisers than the overall U.S. weekly podcast listener. After hearing an ad spot on one of their favorite podcasts, for example, 52% of Black weekly podcast listeners (compared with 44% of U.S. weekly podcast listeners) purchased a product or service.

Currently, Veritone One is focused on guiding the creation of new content that speaks to listeners’ wants and needs, with the understanding that an increase in resonant content for listeners will lead to a demand for advertising inventory from our clients. This then becomes a positive feedback loop: if our network partners continue to see a push for these types of placements, media plans, and advertising opportunities, they will continue to push for these shows to be created and supported.

Our Impact So Far

Anyone can “talk the talk” when it comes to wanting to see diverse creators in podcasting, but at Veritone One, we’re fortunate enough to have the infrastructure and leverage in the space to walk the walk. This means, for example, focusing on growing discoverability for DEI-centered content across our media plans and overall buy strategy.

Over the last few years, our teams have forged deeper relationships with key vendor partners that stand behind amplifying a range of voices—Slate/ForeverDog, Studio71, SXM/Midroll, iHeart – Black Effect Network and Outspoken Network, Lemonada Media, Acast LGBTQ+ Voices, and Urban One Podcast Network to name a few—for our client brands.

So far, Veritone One has seen an estimated 15-20%—and growing—increase of ad dollars into minority-voiced podcasts. These ever-evolving long-term partnerships serve as a test-and-learn tool for our clients to understand, connect, and broadcast to wider audiences.

As we look ahead, we intend to expand our advocacy and amplify the influence of diverse voices in a meaningful way to drive results for our clients. In addition to thoughtful media rationale and strong recommendations on our media plans, we are building naming conventions into our tech and internal processes to support our strategy with quantitative data.

This is where Veritone One’s proprietary data comes in; with years of historical spend under our belts, we are uniquely positioned to make a compelling argument for diversity that’s motivated by our values, but proven out by dollars and cents.

Beyond internal processes, we are dedicated to remaining educated on the state of the industry through participation in engagement research and webinars, such as “Understanding Black Audiences & Their Connection to Audio,” powered by SiriusXM Media. Per the Black Podcast Listener Report, 48% of Black monthly podcast listeners have been listening to podcasts less than a year. We know listenership in this demographic is only growing, and on behalf of both our agency and our clients, we strive to meet listeners where they are.

Diversity teaches us to acknowledge. Inclusion teaches us to learn, connect, and build. And at Veritone One, we are just getting started.

Edited by Rubi Mora

4 Top Takeaways from Podcast Movement 2023

Veritone One provides some top takeaways from the 2023 Podcast Movement.

Summary:

  • More and more partners are becoming educated on, and interested in, Simulcast buys.
  • Clean, accurate third-party performance data is imperative to future ad spend allocation.
  • The podcast advertising industry is seeing a return to form, with dynamic ad insertion buys deprioritized in favor of host-read embedded ads that drive proven performance.
  • Our relationship with network partners only gets stronger year after year.

Simulcast is still all the buzz.

As you might have heard in our recent post on the matter, Simulcast is a mutually beneficial solution for advertisers and networks looking to make the most impact across today’s fragmented media landscape.

One major takeaway from this year’s Podcast Movement? Simulcast shows no signs of slowing down, as we saw more and more partners not just broaching the topic, but also asking the right questions so that they can start implementing visual components alongside their podcast buys in the most effective way.

Veritone One has been ahead of the curve by several years. As industry leaders, we are uniquely situated to educate our partners on best practices that will help them make the most of a Simulcast buy—and to continue to define industry standards.

Dollars need to follow the data.

When it comes to shaping a performance strategy, we can’t overstate the importance of starting with honest, clean data. We’re longtime proponents of using data-driven insights to optimize our campaigns, and we have the tech stack to prove it.

This year, the conversation kept coming back to the need for uncompromised translation of data from third-party tracking tools to our internal analytics platform. Making sure our metrics are aligned and our partners are accountable is imperative; it provides us with the most accurate performance data and allows our media team to allocate future spend with confidence.

Buyers’ advice to networks: get back to basics.

Speaking of future spend: sometimes to figure out where the industry is going, we need to look back at what’s worked in the past. This year, we saw trends for podcast advertising harken back to the embedded host-read ads that built this ecosystem in the first place.

During the peak of the pandemic, Podcast, and consequently podcast advertising, grew substantially, and the flood of demand led to the adoption of ad tech solutions meant to maximize inventory. Proponents of dynamic ad insertion extolled the virtues of its flexibility: whereas an embedded ad read would ostensibly live in a podcast episode in perpetuity, DAI allowed for real-time decision making in which a listener would be served an ad during any given podcast download. From an impression fulfillment standpoint, this was especially advantageous to networks, and the high demand meant they had no trouble selling inventory at increased CPMs—even if that filled inventory didn’t perform as well for brands as an embedded host-read ad.

But this year, we’ve noticed the tides shifting again. Networks are taking heed of buyers’ advice to prioritize the ROI of the DR brands that built the podcast advertising space. That means focusing more than ever on embedded ad reads, host-read endorsements, and ensuring impression delivery is fulfilled when audiences are most engaged.

Leveraging proprietary data and our position in the podcast ecosystem, we have been able to educate our network partners on what has worked historically and what will deliver sustained growth to all parties moving forward.

Our partner relationships really do get better with time.

We are heartened by the positive feedback we continue to receive about our team every year. Hearing our partners tell us we are truly the best at what we do is always nice, but looking back at what we’ve accomplished together is all the more gratifying.

Because if you ask us, one of the things we do best is build and maintain deep, constructive partnerships with our vendors. These relationships aren’t just long-standing; they evolve to meet the moment, which is why we have something new and exciting to discuss every Podcast Movement. Our commitment to expanding our offerings and collaborating with partners to get creative with campaigns is unwavering, even—especially—after a year of uncertainty.

Connecting with the people who have helped us do such great work is an incredible experience and one that makes us look forward to this event every year.

Edited by Rubi Mora

Why Planning Ahead is a Surefire Way to Optimize Your Podcast Campaign

Hilary Ross Shafer and Bart Roselli offer insight into what makes planning ahead a low-risk, high-reward media strategy for clients looking to increase efficiency and take a holistic approach to their podcast campaigns.

Summary:

  • When it comes to podcast media planning, the sooner the better.
  • You can benefit from increased campaign efficiency and more control over your brand’s narrative and growth trajectory.
  • Flexible terms make for a low-risk, high-reward media strategy.

Harness an evolving landscape’s potential for growth.

Let’s cut to the chase: if you’re looking to advertise on podcasts in the most effective and efficient way possible, Hilary Ross Shafer offers these words of advice: “There’s no perfect time to start Upfront conversations, but the sooner we can start those conversations, the better.”

As the VP of Podcast and Influencer Media at Veritone One, Shafer is a veteran of the medium. She recommends that our clients and potential clients get ahead of the curve when it comes to media planning, even if only at a general level. Then, clients can always build upon their plan throughout the year. “We’re always looking to optimize, adjust, and improve our podcast media buys. Knowing that we have set a strong foundation during the upfronts allows us to be in an active planning cycle throughout the full year, and remain a bit more intentional about reviewing incremental opportunities and new show launches that arise throughout the year.”

And in a medium as robust as podcasting, the opportunities that arise are varied and plentiful.

“The podcast channel in and of itself has uncapped potential,” explains Bart Roselli, SVP of Growth at Veritone One. Continued growth in listenership means more potential for expanded reach compared to traditional channels such as TV, radio, or print. You might buy ad space on a new podcast, for example, and see it grow to ten times its size by the end of the year. “It’s like buying an undervalued stock primed for growth,” he notes; as with all burgeoning markets, early adopters stand to gain the most.

Benefit from continued channel resiliency.

Both Shafer and Roselli caveat that, much like any advertising channel, Podcast has felt the impact of current market conditions. “We’ve never had a splash of cold water like we’ve had this year,” notes Roselli.

What is remarkable about the medium, however, is the resiliency it’s demonstrated during turbulent times. As the macroeconomic climate continues to present many unknowns, podcasting has proven to be a very stable ecosystem when it comes to both supply and demand, consistently providing advantageous opportunities to advertisers.

While it would be easy to write it off as a riskier investment given its relative newness, the historical performance of podcast spend lends even a newer medium a sense of maturity. “If you don’t think of it as a traditional channel,” advises Roselli, “You need to start thinking about it that way.”

Drive campaign efficiency by pouncing on placements at lower prices.

A key benefit of early planning, Roselli stresses, is the efficiency it has proven to drive in podcast campaigns. Referencing historical client data, he calls the correlation between early planning and increased efficiency “indisputable… it’s not a rounding error. It is significant.”

In short: “This is the most important way you can impact your podcast and media portfolio, by planning in advance.”

More lead time means more control.

Planning ahead is not just about dollars and cents; it also provides intangibles that can take a campaign from good to great. For one thing, you get your pick of top current shows and forthcoming releases, rather than having to cobble together a plan that’s subject to availability. Our buyers can lock in the best weeks that work for a campaign and choose the best ad placement before the show gets too crowded and inventory disappears.

With a head start, Roselli explains, “You control the narrative and the ability to scale a campaign faster and more efficiently. And you have more control over how you can structure it… you get to determine the growth and path for that channel for the next 12 months.”

Having more lead time also allows your media planning team to explore placements beyond the standard issue, leading to more unique and impactful creative integrations. By leveraging Veritone One’s agency buying power and preferred partnership agreements, our media team is able to unlock all sorts of strategic opportunities for our clients, providing an advantage that is exceptionally critical during the upfront planning season.

And networks are all the more receptive to these conversations when you’ve established a history together. All things being equal, a long-standing partnership is more likely to yield increased consideration or more flexibility, allowing you to develop your plan under more favorable conditions.

The added lead time allows for more strategic and creative conversations to take place. When we are able to kickstart upfront planning conversations earlier, our media teams are able to engage in meaningful and highly collaborative conversations with network partners. This effectively gives all parties the opportunity to think holistically about the partnership and make data-driven decisions to grow and scale the campaign—and ultimately helps us determine which levers need to be pulled in the upcoming year to maximize efficiency and the overall likelihood of future growth and success. As Shafer puts it, “It takes us out of the spots-and-dots approach and allows us to think a little bit more macro about our client’s business at large.”

Last but not least: there is very limited risk.

There is no one-size-fits-all perfect time to plan and execute your buy, given each client’s budget planning and individual needs. “We understand that sometimes clients don’t have a crystal ball to predict what their business is going to look like next year,” Shafer allows.

Still, Roselli advises that, “In an ideal world, knowing that will vary by client or category… you’d want [planning to take place] by the end of Q3, start of Q4.” He adds that this will “save you anywhere from 5-20% in increased efficiency consistently, depending on your strategic planning tactics.”

Indeed, the most important thing we want all clients to keep in mind, but especially those who are wary of committing spend to a podcast before marketing calendars are drawn up or budgets are finalized: this is a flexible medium by nature, and our team can draw up terms to reflect that flexibility and mitigate the risk of upfront commitments that other channels can’t provide.

“We endeavor to build and negotiate lasting partnerships during Upfronts,” Shafer adds, “However, we have those flexibility points to ensure our campaigns stay successful and are able to be nimble when necessary. We can optimize a schedule, we can re-flight, we can re-forecast. We have all those protections in place… but if clients are hesitant to jump, they’re not going to reap any of the benefits.”

In closing, any client focused on growth will be looking at ways to control and monetize their marketing portfolio, all while amplifying upside and minimizing risk. Advertising on Podcast accomplishes all of these goals handily, with increased impact the earlier you broach your annual discussions.

Edited by Rubi Mora

Meet the Author

Kedric Walls

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Strategist

Kedric is a Strategist here at Veritone One with a passion for all things media. Throughout his professional career, he has learned that there is nothing wrong with asking questions to ensure you are getting to the bottom line. His background in direct response and performance advertising is all about sales strategy, campaign effectiveness, and knowledge acquisition. A favorite quote that he lives by: "Success is not final; failure is not fatal - it is the courage to continue that counts!" - Winston Churchill

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