Podcasts: The New Kid at The Upfront

Podcasts: The New Kid at The Upfront

Podcasts have become a viable media option to reach listeners. They entertain 67 million listeners monthly – and the media industry and advertisers are taking notice. Podcast advertising reached $220 million by the end of 2017, and well-known brands have invested a portion of their ad dollars in podcasts. Proctor & Gamble’s Gillette and Mr. Clean product lines have both utilized podcasts to reach consumers.

Monthly podcast listeners are a desirable group to reach.  57% of listeners have at least a four-year degree and 45% have a household income of at least $75,000 – both higher than the national average.  In addition, 44% of monthly podcast listenership is done by those between the ages of 18-34.  Smartphones are also impacting how podcasts are being consumed.  In 2017, 69% of listeners utilized their smartphones to enjoy podcast content.

As with any medium, there are positive attributes and certain obstacles to consider when purchasing advertisements.


  1. Each podcast episode usually includes only one advertiser
  2. Large list of genres and special interest topics allow advertisers to target niche audiences
  3. New dynamic ad process insures ads will not be outdated if consumer listens to an older podcast episode


  1. Podcast audience still does not compare to the size of terrestrial radio listenership
  2. Metrics for measurement are not available in all cases
  3. When metrics are delivered they are not measured by a third-party firm

Metrics used to measure and determine listenership to podcasts are still in their early stages. To date, podcasters have been unable to accurately measure time spent listening (TSL). It is also difficult to determine if listeners are skipping the served ads. In addition, information on downloads, consumption, and subscriber data is mainly supplied by the podcaster.

Over the past few years there has been consistent talk from Nielsen on establishing a system to measure podcast listenership. Although in its early stages, Apple is also planning to release Apple Podcast Analytics. Analytics for unique devices will include total time spent listening, time per device, average consumption, and subscribers by device.

While podcast measurements are scarce, ad insertion is evolving, which benefits advertisers. In the past, static podcast ads were inserted and became part of the podcast, and the ad would live on the podcast no matter the timeframe.  New dynamic ads give the publisher the ability to switch out a spot within the podcast when needed so advertisers can utilize time-sensitive ads, for example.

As podcast revenue and popularity grows, so does the desire for listeners and podcasters to share upcoming and relevant information and news.  The Interactive Advertising Bureau hosted its third annual podcast upfront in 2017.  Heavy hitters from the podcast world as well as the media industry were present.  ESPN, NPR, HowStuffWorks, Podcast One, iHeartMedia and Time, Inc. were among some of the notable attendees and participants.

Podcasts are evolving, and listenership is growing.  Advertisers have taken notice and podcasts have carved out a spot in the ever-changing advertising landscape. Although there are still some obstacles, podcasts have become a viable media channel for advertisers to reach consumers.

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