Podcasting continues to attract new advertisers, especially among the deep-pocketed ranks of brand advertisers that have followed direct response companies into the medium during the past few years. Despite those gains, the amount of advertising on the typical podcast has held steady during the past two years while newly-released data shows the so-called “long-tail” of spending has grown longer with more ads being placed across the top 400 podcasts. 

The average episode included 3.2 advertising messages during fourth quarter 2019, according to data from Magellan AI and Westwood One. That was a 3% increase compared to a year earlier. At the same time the numbers show across the top 400 podcasts the total number of ads detected jumped 25%. That was driven in part by an increase in the average number of episodes during the quarter by the podcasts, but also what Magellan says was a 7% increase in the number of unique advertisers. It counted more than 1,200 individual podcast advertisers for the first time.

“With the number of podcast ads up 25% and more episodes being produced now compared to last year, it is clear that advertiser and listener interest in this medium isn’t going away any time soon,” said Cameron Hendrix, co-founder of Magellan. “And while not reflected in this report, we've seen much of this growth continue even amidst the pandemic.” 



Even as podcasting has found more support among ad buyers, the analysis concludes that an “over-commercialization” of podcasting is not yet an issue. “Ads comprise less than 10% of podcast time,” the report says. It points out that for a podcast running more than an hour, the typical number of ads in the show is four. That compares to 36 ads that run during a typical hour of television programming, according to Media Dynamics.

But when it comes to spot length, TV may have the edge. The data also shows the average length of a podcast ad remained steady at just shy of one minute at the end of 2019, although there was a wide range among the shows that were analyzed. While nearly one-in-ten ads ran less than 15-seconds, Magellan says most of the spots ran between 30- and 90-seconds. In contrast, most network TV ads are :30s and :15s.



The report shows a continued reallocation in the composition of industry revenue. A year ago direct response marketers made up two-thirds of the ads on the biggest shows. But Magellan says the amount of brand advertising grew by a third during the past year and now roughly one of every three ads run during a podcast is from a brand marketer.

“During this pandemic, podcasting is one of the few media platforms to retain strong and vital audiences and advertising revenue,” said Westwood One President Suzanne Grimes. “This research will help DTC and brand advertisers learn podcast advertising best practices and generate results from this powerful, personal, and high-performing medium.” 

Interestingly, a growing number of the direct response advertisers are making the leap from one audio medium to another. The data also shows many are now buying broadcast FM and AM radio. The money is flowing in both directions too. “Major network radio advertisers are now increasing their use of podcasting,” the report says.



The report also found that there was little change in the placement of podcast advertising during the fourth quarter. Magellan data shows 62% of ads ran as mid-rolls. Another 25% ran as pre-rolls. And the remaining 13% were post-show ads.

The report is based on data collected by Magellan among the top 400 podcasts in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, as ranked by Apple Podcasts. Download the full analysis HERE.