The podcast industry is poised to crest $1 billion in advertising revenue within the next year, but for marketers to continue growing their investment in the medium listener numbers will need to climb. That’s one of the findings in a MARU/Matchbox survey commissioned by Westwood One. The data shows that while sponsors have been fine with the growth so far – Edison Research says 32% of Adults 18 and older listen to a podcast each month – podcasting will need to reach a 44% monthly reach in order to secure meaningful advertiser dollars. “Most likely, 2021 will be the year that podcasting achieves the 44% monthly reach threshold,” said Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Westwood One and Cumulus Media.

The survey also finds a growing number of advertisers are moving toward dynamic ad insertion rather than baked-in live reads. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said they’re already inserting ads. And the buyers estimate a majority (55%) of their podcast orders are of campaigns using dynamically inserted ads. That means 45% of their spots are baked-in, a format that’s traditionally been dominated by host-read ads.

If the survey were a report card for the podcast industry, the data may give an “incomplete” to how well the medium is doing in terms of audience measurement and attribution. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed would give podcasters a “fair” rating while one-in-five would rate the effort “poor.” Just 5% said “excellent” is how they would describe the current state of podcast measurement.

Yet there are signs that the buy side sees improvements ahead,” Bouvard said in a blog post. “Compared to prior years, 43% indicate the current state of attribution and measurement is getting better. 57% say things are about the same. No one feels it is getting worse, somewhat akin to saying you cannot fall off the floor.”



The survey also asked buyers how they were using the medium. The result found that the most utilized test buy includes 105 ads spread across five different podcasts for a period of seven weeks. Of the test buys that are done, 68% run every week while 9% run every other week and another 9% run every three weeks.

“Some podcasts report being approached for a ‘test’ with one ad per month,” Bouvard said. “Based on our study of veteran podcast brands, planners, and buyers, such a practice is ill conceived and should be outlawed. One ad a month is like testing the merits of watering a lawn with a squirt gun.”

The survey also asked about the various providers of third-party data and it found that the attribution companies got the highest marks overall and were most likely to be used. But among the measurement options, no service came out a clear winner. Bouvard said he believes the newly launched measurement solutions need more time to be understood and tested.



The survey results are based on data collected by MARU/Matchbox of 95 ad buyers who opted-in to an online survey conducted during the first week of February. Details of the study will be presented by Bouvard at this week’s Podfront LA 2020 event and the Podcast Movement: Evolutions conference.

Download the full survey results HERE.