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CBS sold out commercial inventory for this weekend’s Super Bowl, getting an average of $5.5 million for a 30-second spot. But marketer’s money would be better spent on audio, says one ad agency executive. “That can go a long way in podcasting,” said Veritone One Senior VP of Strategy & Investment Conor Doyle. He said it may also be a wiser strategy. “Everything shows podcasting can deliver some of the best return on ad spend that’s out there,” said Doyle.

There is no denying that a flashy Super Bowl ad can get plenty of attention. Stories are written about who is buying commercial time and viewers are asked to rate the best. But while millions will watch, its value as a marketing vehicle may be overblown.

“What you can get from a Super Bowl ad versus a podcast campaign are very different,” said Doyle. “With the Super Bowl, you are getting massive reach and exposure. With podcasting, you are getting something deeper. If you poll somebody who saw an ad for a brand from the Super Bowl versus someone who listened to an ad on a podcast, I think the recall and engagement with that ad would be much greater in podcasts.”

There is also a growing body of research that shows podcast listeners are much more likely to be paying attention to the commercial compared to TV viewers. “It allows brands to go a layer deeper, whether that is for a direct response message to promote features and benefits, or for brands to go deeper on their message,” said Doyle.

The multimillion-dollar cost of one TV ad during the Super Bowl comes into sharper focus when it is compared to how much brands are spending on podcasting. The online counseling service BetterHelp was podcasting’s biggest advertiser during December. Magellan AI says the company spent more than $7 million across 556 podcasts last month. 

Doyle pointes out the real cost to brands to land a TV ad during the Super Bowl is probably much higher since they often need to spend across the network. “You could have an annual podcast campaign for that kind of money,” he said.

Price aside, not all podcast users are avoiding the Super Bowl. DraftKings has bought two 15-second ads during the game. And Squarespace will run one spot.

Advertisers Booking Earlier
 

The third quarter was Veritone One’s best on record. Fourth quarter numbers have not been released but Doyle said they had “a lot of momentum” coming into 2021. A key metric for the agency is the number of clients that place annual podcast ad buys, and that number is “extremely healthy” versus a year ago. “People are booking their schedules earlier this year,” he said. 

Doyle said that a lot of the clients Veritone One works with realize that podcast advertising works, and as new shows debut and the range of content available expands, they are dedicating more money to the medium.

“As there is more content, budgets are going to grow,” he said. “We have a client base that is hungry for podcast advertising, and as producers are putting out more podcasts, we’re naturally going to see an increase.” Pixel tracking that provides attribution for podcasts is helping give brands more confidence in their decision.

Podcast Buyers Become Radio Buyers

Many radio executives see podcasting as a way to bring new clients into audio marketing. That strategy is more than wishful thinking, according to Doyle who has seen such an evolution among Veritone One’s clients. 

“New brands come into a new medium to get their message out and they see that audio is driving their business. And then they are more comfortable with audio and so they are more comfortable with radio,” said Doyle. Several of the biggest networks, like iHeartMedia, NPR and Westwood One, that can offer ad buyers both podcast and broadcast radio are benefiting, he said. 

Another boost has come from up-and-coming brands that were early adopters of podcasting. Now, with their own business expanding, many see more traditional outlets like AM/FM radio as a way to continue their growth. 

Even as the lines between radio and podcasting blur, Doyle thinks marketers are discovering that they cannot simply repurpose 30-second radio ads on a podcast and get the same effect as a more thought out live-read. “That seemed to correct a little bit last year,” he said. “Our takeaway is brands are working with the podcast community to get the best out of the medium.”