To some consumers advertising is the enemy. But that’s not the case among podcast listeners. In fact, a new survey by MARU/Matchbox finds that nearly two-thirds of weekly podcast listeners would be willing to sit through a couple of additional ads per show in order to ensure their favorite podcast remained in production.
“An uptick in ad tolerance should not be taken lightly, since many media consumers tend to be averse to advertising,” said Westwood One’s fourth annual Podcast Download Fall 2020 Report. The survey commissioned by the network found heavy weekly podcast listeners – those who consume six or more hours per week – will accept more ads compared to listeners overall. They are also more likely to take an action after a podcast ad exposure. “This positive sentiment towards ad acceptance further illustrates the strong connection podcast listeners have with their favorite shows and hosts,” the fourth annual report said.
During the past three years the data shows ad tolerance has steadily grown among weekly podcast listeners. During an hour-long episode, listeners are now willing to listen to nearly four minutes of advertising. On a half-hour episode the sweet spot is about two-and-a-half minutes. And during a 15-minute episode fans are tolerant of a little more than two minutes of ad time.
But the data also shows that heavy listeners are more tolerant that the average podcast fan. Typically, heavy listeners are willing to sit through an additional half-minute of advertising.
Survey takers also asked people what action they have taken after hearing a podcast ad. Generally, more listening resulted in a higher rate of action. The data shows 36% of heavy listeners have bought a product or service they heard advertised on a podcast compared to 27% of average podcast consumers. And 43% of heavy listeners have used a promo code they heard on a show versus 30% of typical consumers.
“Podcast listeners embrace advertising. Four out of five podcast listeners have taken an action after hearing a podcast ad, and an increasing number of listeners feel podcast ads are relevant and memorable,” said Westwood One President Suzanne Grimes.
One reason podcast advertising works as well is it does is more than four in ten podcast listeners said the spots they hear are engaging, relevant to them, and are memorable.
Those scores are also boosted by the fact that many ads are voiced by the podcast hosts, and that’s something listeners like. A majority 51% said they’d rather hear a host-read ad than a commercial that sounds like what airs on broadcast radio. Millennials are most turned-off by slickly produced ads, while the survey showed older demos are more tolerate of radio-like spots in the middle of their podcasts.
One way to avoid advertising is to subscribe to a show. The biggest draw for weekly podcast listeners to doing so would be having access to exclusive, original content. The report found that more than a third (37%) said content would lead them to pay for a podcast compared to about a quarter (24%) who said they’d pay in order to get an ad-free experience. In third place at 13% was getting exclusive access to podcast hosts.
The MARU/Matchbox survey was conducted in July 2020 among a nationally representative sample of weekly podcast listeners. Download Westwood One’s fourth annual Podcast Download Fall 2020 Report HERE.