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Direct response marketers may have laid the foundation of the podcast ad business, but it is brand marketers that are today leading the charge. An annual survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions finds that the number of marketers and ad agencies who say they would “definitely” advertise on podcasts jumped to 42% this year, a four-fold increase over the 10% who said that in 2015. And the latest survey – commissioned by Cumulus Media – finds that nearly half (49%) say they “definitely would consider” advertising in podcasts in the next six months. That’s up three points from a year ago and is nearly three-times the number who said that in 2015.

“There is a huge interest among brands in podcast advertising,” Cumulus Chief Insights Officer PierreBouvard said in a video detailing their findings.

Backing up the study are Interactive Advertising Bureau data that shows brand advertisers spent $413 million on podcast ads and branded content last year, a 269% increase versus 2017’s total of $112 million. That puts brand advertising nearly on par with direct response advertisers, who spent $430 million last year – or about double the $202 million they spent four years earlier.

“Podcast advertising is really the rage among brand marketers,” said Bouvard. “The brands are really stepping up and putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to podcast advertising.”

Direct response advertisers have website visits, promo codes and sales as measures of how well podcast advertising works. To increase podcasting’s appeal among brand marketers, many look at brand lift studies that illustrate the impact that spending money on podcasts can have.

To date, Nielsen has conducted more than 425 such studies across 19 different product categories. It has calculated that podcast advertising increases awareness by an average of 12 points and achieves a seven-point increase in the number who seek brand information. Brand recommendation and purchase intent also go up by an average of five points.

“Podcasting absolutely has a strong performance in the mid- to upper-funnel brand measures for marketers,” said Bouvard.

Bouvard said the spirits and alcohol category is especially interested in podcasting because of its age profile – the medium has a median age of 34 with the vast majority of listeners in their 20s, 30s and 40s, making it an ideal choice for alcohol brands. Helping further is 87% of podcast listeners are age 21 and above, well above the alcohol industry’s guidelines for marketing.

To demonstrate to alcohol marketers the power of podcasts, Cumulus enlisted an alcohol brand to sponsor the Touré-hosted podcast Who Was Prince? this summer. It then worked with Nielsen to conduct a study using an online panel of 400 adults 21+ who were podcast listeners and alcoholic beverage drinkers. Half heard the alcohol brand’s ad, the other did not.

Demonstrating podcasting’s ability to sell for brands, the analysis showed a 50-point difference in brand recall between the exposed and unexposed groups. Exposure to the podcast campaign grew brand familiarity by 24%. There was a more modest 8% increase in brand favorability. He described it more as a “nudge, not a shove” since favorability typically takes longer to build.

As a result of the campaign, intention to take action grew strongly, Cumulus details in a blog post. There was a 19% increase in those who said they would seek information and a 13% increase in purchase intent. There was also a 5% uptick in those saying they would recommend the spirits brand. The typical brand “halo” also gave the participating brand’s competitors small increases too.

“Overall, podcast advertising is an ideal media platform for spirits marketers,” said Bouvard. “The campaign drove some very strong familiarity growth, as well as intention to take action.

In addition to the benefits for the marketer, the Nielsen study found that three quarters of weekly alcohol drinkers rated the Who Was Prince? podcast as either “excellent” or “very good” compared to 61% for the average podcast. And nearly two-thirds (64%) who were exposed to the ad thought the series was a “good fit” for the alcohol brand. That was on-par with the Nielsen average.