In the Game of Roulette That is Digital Marketing, Bet on Podcasts

Winning the engagement game in an ad-blocking world.


Photo by Peter Wendt on Unsplash

When it comes to digital marketing; is anything safe anymore? Social platforms’ use of data has sparked a massive privacy debate, ad blockers are becoming more common, and fraud is costing the ad industry billions. Brands, it’s time to take back engagement and stop making risky bets on display. Digital audio, and podcasting, in particular, is shaping up to be the safest bet around. Thousands of brands, large and small, have identified podcasts not only as a necessary tool in their digital marketing toolkit but an effective one.

Whether they command an audience of 40,000 or 4 million, those ears are tuned in thanks to the very opt-in nature of podcasts. It’s addicting and millions of people are getting hooked. Monthly podcast listening has increased 23% over the last year and shows no signs of slowing down. Podcasting is especially thriving among the elusive 12–24 demo with 40% now listening monthly. For context, Facebook use among that demo has dropped 20% since 2017.

For those worried about where their banners are really running, or if those metrics are too-good-to-be-true, here’s how podcasting is stepping up its game to help brands win over customers.

Too legit to quit

Ad fraud in digital advertising has become a very expensive problem. In fact, it cost advertisers $19 billion last year. Bots, fake websites, and scammers are on the rise, making it very costly for those investing heavily in display. Protect your ad dollar investments by hedging with audio. Podcast measurement has come a long way since the first season of Serial launched 5 years ago. Now, greater accountability has paved the way for more traditional brands to confidently test the waters. IABv2 only counts a single listen once in a 24-hour period, making it the most reliable form of download measurement. If someone starts, stops, and starts an episode again in a single day, that counts as one download. An impression isn’t counted unless your ad is heard. If a podcast is using IABv2 measurement you can be assured that you are buying what you were sold, and that number is not inflated.

Access granted

They’re irrelevant…they’re disruptive…I need more control over my online experience. These are some reasons consumers noted in a recent Visual Objects survey for why they use ad blockers. Three-fourths of people have now used at least one form of regular ad blocking, getting your message seen by potential customers has never been more challenging. Luckily there’s a place where well-executed ads are relevant, engaging, and dare I say, a delightful part of the experience. On average, 85% of podcast listeners are listening to most or all of each episode. When we look at one of our most popular shows, we see listen-thru rates above 90%. Additionally, podcast platforms are taking things one step further to preserve the heavily ad-supported medium. Spotify (after making a huge investment in podcasting after the purchase of Gimlet and Anchor), recently updated their terms of service to prohibit its free subscribers from using ad blocking software.

A safe space

The term “brand safety” represents an environment that is not hostile, will not cause uncomfortable association, or generate unwelcome comments. Context is everything, right? One study found that 99% of advertisers are concerned with their ads appearing in brand safe environments. While advertisers rush to adjust their strategies, digital audio has always provided that context. Listeners actively seek out content based on their mood, mindset, where they’re listening and more, and they are in control the moment they opt into a podcast. Additionally, podcast listening is a primarily mobile experience with a majority consuming them in-app, reducing the occurrence of ad fraud.

Combine the steps taken toward better accountability, commitment to the ad-supported environment and the listener’s willingness to opt into the content…you have the makings of a safer digital marketing bet. But safety doesn’t have to mean sterile! There’s plenty of room for advertisers to have fun, get creative, and make campaigns truly unique, while still reaping the benefits.

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