Podcast Impressions are the New Downloads

Why impressions are the key to getting measurable results.

Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash


You know what they say…if an ad runs in a podcast, does it make an impact? 

A few years ago that answer would have remained unknown to anyone except direct response advertisers with a promo code. Podcast measurement has been a challenge for the industry, and the lack of it has been a barrier keeping the brand advertiser floodgates from opening.

 In a recent study, 64% of agencies and brands gave podcast measurement a “fair” ranking, while 19% gave it a “poor” ranking. Yes, the industry is still finding its footing but progress is being made to satisfy marketers’ increasing need for attribution.

Podcast downloads, in particular, have been problematic thanks to notoriously inconsistent client-side metrics. Plus, downloads do not necessarily equal actual listening. If you’re still buying baked-in ads, you’re buying on downloads. And that leaves a big question mark as to whether or not someone listened to your ad.

So…what should you do? Quick answer – stop buying on downloads, buy on impressions. But first, what’s the difference?

Download –> the content was requested by the consumer

Impression –> the content was heard by the consumer

The shift to DI and impressions-based buying

The shift from downloads to impressions has already begun as more podcasts are streamed. A majority of episodes are streamed on Apple Podcasts, and all podcasts are streamed on Spotify. And as podcast consumption evolves, so do the advertising opportunities.

Dynamic ad insertion (DI) is becoming the new standard for buying podcast ads and a more attractive option for brands of all shapes and sizes. We’ve mentioned before how DI gives brands more control over their campaigns, offering targeting and easy creative swaps even with host-read ads. Impressions-based DI makes buying inventory in real-time possible while addressing the growing need for personalization. Ads are only heard by the audience set by the campaign’s parameters.

Need a refresher on DI? Check out our Buying Guide.

Why impressions are better

Unlike buying a downloads-based, baked-in ad that might or might not be heard by your target consumer, an impressions-based ad has been served to the listener. A baked-in ad lives in the content forever. Time-sensitive messaging?  Forget this method. Plus, evergreen, one-size-fits-all ads don’t work for most brands.  

Additionally, impressions let you control your share of voice – this is especially important with larger shows that may be cost-prohibitive due to scale.  Buy a share of an episode or of an entire week. Additionally, frequency capping of impressions makes sure that listeners are reached based on your preferred frequency. No ad fatigue!

Are those impressions you bought actually working?

Advertisers can take their campaign a step further with attribution tools when buying DI ads through a reputable ad serving platform (like Megaphone) to measure real-time results. 1×1 pixel tracking, reporting, and retargeting via Podsights, Barometric, or Chartable is easy to implement. Go from how many listened to how many took action with pixel-based household attribution to track the listener journey from site visits to purchase at an episode level. 

Why do we sell on impressions? It’s simple. What you pay for is what you get. When you buy an impression, you’re buying a listen from a real human. Before you buy your next (or first!) campaign, get in touch with us for more education on better podcast ads. We also have access to exclusive inventory in some pretty awesome podcasts too!
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