A lot of podcasters are focused on downloads and unique listeners as metrics to present to advertisers. But for marketers who have not yet made the decision to invest in the medium, a growing library of brand lift studies could hold more sway. They are demonstrating across an expanding range of product categories that podcast ads deliver awareness and sales.
“A common brand lift pattern reveals greater lift in top of funnel metrics such as awareness versus lower funnel metrics such as brand favorability and taking action,” said Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard. In a blog post, he offers some of the data that his company’s relationship with the media research firm Signal Hill Insights has put in their hands.
Take the case of Billie, the direct-to-consumer razor company. It showed that people who were exposed to the podcast ads were more than twice as likely to have unaided awareness of the brand. Those same people had 21% greater brand favorability – and perhaps even more important for marketers – they were 21% more likely to take an action such as buying the product.
As a refresher, brand lift studies give two different groups a podcast to listen to. One hears the brand ad. The other does not. Follow-up research about whether those people are aware of the brand name – either unaided or aided using prompts such as “are you familiar with a brand called Billie?” helps measure recall. Specific URLs and promo codes also help determine whether people in the group that hear the brand ads take any action.
The data from Toronto-based Signal Hill Insights reveals equally positive results for the meal kit company HelloFresh. The brand lift study showed those exposed to HelloFresh podcast ads had a 164% increase in unaided awareness and a 44% increase in aided awareness. Brand favorability grew by 51% and there was a 16% lift in those that said they would take an action.
Brand advertising nearly doubled its share of total podcast advertising revenue between 2016 and 2019, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Jeff Vidler, founder and President of Signal Hill Insights, said in a recent blog post, that brand lift studies are helping advertisers validate that spend in the same way that promo codes have helped direct response advertisers track the effectiveness of their sales-based campaigns.
“Brand lift studies have added relevance now as COVID has caused many advertisers to shift their focus from immediate sales to long-term brand-building,” said Vidler. “The hope is that once life goes back to ‘normal’ – whatever that will look like – their brand will be top-of-mind.”
It is not just direct-to-consumer brands that benefit from podcast ads either. Sugar Hill Insights worked with the fashion brand Chanel, which had a huge 206% jump in unaided awareness. Yet it saw virtually no growth in aided awareness, which Bouvard says, for one of the most famous names in global fashion was 98% regardless of whether someone heard the podcast ad or not. The data showed roughly half of those had good feelings about the brand, but those who heard the podcast ad had a 7% gain in brand favorability. There was also a 13% lift in taking action among those exposed to the podcast commercial.
“Podcast brand lift studies prove that podcast advertising can be a brand builder, delivering growth in awareness, favorability, consideration, and likelihood to take action,” said Bouvard. In the blog post he also points out that Nielsen research has shown how important brand awareness is for driving a company’s sales. According to a Nielsen study, unaided awareness is responsible for 60% of all brand considerations and 90% of all auto purchase intentions. “Even more impressive, 90% of people who were intending to purchase an auto brand could name the brand on an unaided basis,” said Bouvard.