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While larger retailers typically hype holiday sales promotions in the bountiful fourth quarter selling season, more direct-to-consumer brands have been following the trend. That’s good news for podcast advertising, according to a new White Paper from Magellan AI, “How does your holiday podcast advertising campaign measure up?”

For podcasters, the study’s bottom line conclusion: “While some holiday-specific podcasts exist, many advertisers are not changing their placement strategy to reach audiences listening to this content. That said, it’s still important to match the ad to the context. When show hosts mention the holidays, the ads should follow suit.”

In its new study, Magellan AI explored a specific set of advertisers and how their messaging shifted in Q4, offering guidance “on how to approach this uncertain holiday season” amid the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Looking at fourth-quarter 2019, the podcasting analytics firm found that many of those that dramatically increased spending over their average Q1-Q3 spend were direct-to-consumer brands, consumer goods and services. “Predictably, these industries were hoping to capture some share-of-wallet from holiday gift-givers,” the report explains. Among those with dramatic share increases: Total Wine & More (up 3,121% in Q4), Omaha Steaks (up 1,018%), Peloton (+752%), Boston Beer (+366%), Manscaped (+200%) and Away Travel (+122%).

Scanning advertising from these companies, John Goforth, Head of Sales and Business Development at Magellan AI, analyzed who specifically mentioned such keywords as Cyber Monday, Black Friday, shopping, Christmas, holiday and gifts. The data also revealed when advertisers started talking about the holiday… the focus was in early November through mid-December.

Meanwhile, the firm also looked for the same key words within the narrative of podcasts, and discovered that “when we analyzed the content of the episodes for a holiday theme, we discovered the podcast publishers lagged a bit compared to the advertisers. The content of the shows did not pick up on the holiday theme until December and many of the shows never published holiday-specific episodes.” Admittedly, Goforth concludes that this is not necessarily surprising, “when the show genre is taken into context.”

The White Paper surmises that while some holiday-specific podcasts exist, many advertisers are not changing placement strategy to reach audiences listening to this content: “It’s important to match the ad to the context. When show hosts mention the holidays, the ads should follow suit.”

And then there’s the “COVID Effect.” While previous research has proved that podcast listenership and advertising were and continue to be insulated from the effects of COVID, many advertisers changed course, particularly in Q1 and Q2. Magellan predicts that among those that “are already preparing to go big for the holidays” are Total Wine & More, Omaha Steaks, Manscaped, Quip, Bombas, MeUndies and KiwiCo.

For advertisers, Magellan’s Goforth posits that “this will be an unprecedented holiday season, much like the rest of the year has been unprecedented. We’re hearing (albeit anecdotally) that many networks expect to sell out of inventory in Q4, driven by pent-up demand and reallocation of Q2 and Q3 funds that weren’t spent.” For vendors, he advises, “If you’re still planning to run ads in podcasts in Q4, the time to book your ad placements is now.”