6 Lessons from Top Podcast Advertisers
The podcast industry is finally coming of age. Forbes reports that 100 million people became monthly podcast listeners in 2020—and estimate 125 million by 2022. And of course, money flows where attention goes, as podcast advertising revenues are set to surge beyond $1 billion in 2021.
With a rapidly growing market and immense revenue opportunities, now is the time to get on board. However, many companies are dragging their feet because they aren’t sure how to write a podcast ad.
At Magellan, we examine the top spenders in podcast advertising every month. Read on as we look at the top podcast advertisers from January 2021 and give you the insights to guide your podcast advertising strategy.
An Overview of the 15 Top Podcast Advertisers
Every month, we use our proprietary technology and methodology at Magellan AI to analyze podcast advertising across all industries. This process enables us to generate estimated spending metrics for every advertiser detected.
Here are the top spenders in podcast advertising for January 2021:
6 Lessons from Top Podcast Advertisers
As you increase spend on podcast advertising, the risk and rewards dynamic comes under intense scrutiny. Everyone wants to know whether a higher investment is worth it—and what we can do to ensure it generates results.
Here are six things we can take from analyzing the top spenders on podcast advertising in January 2021:
1. Increased spending does not always deliver more exposure
We detected that Amazon racked up spend of $1.6M and appeared on 324 shows. The top spender, BetterHelp, invested almost triple that amount ($4.4M) but was only detected on 400 shows.
Also, we can see that McDonald's and Madison Reed are estimated to have spent the same amount - $1.2M. Despite the parity, the fast-food franchise got featured on 288 shows, dwarfing the 49 detected ads of the haircare brand.
The media strategy for each advertiser varies widely in breadth and depth. Advertisers with higher show counts may have fewer ads with one show where those with high spend but fewer shows likely are buying more ads in one show. The position and length of an ad can also impact the cost of each ad placement. It's worth exploring a mix of approaches to find a strategy that works for your brand.
2. Society & Culture is the most popular genre for podcast advertising
Six of the top spenders most commonly appeared on Society & Culture shows. Interestingly, these advertisers come from a range of industries, including tech (Amazon), mental health (BetterHelp), and insurance (Progressive).
In this niche, our data on detected ads indicates that podcast ads cost an average of $10,000—the lowest average of any genre. The return on investment (ROI) could attract more advertisers to this space, which may drive the costs down further.
Here are some of the podcasts in the society & culture niche that have attracted the highest number of ads:
- Small Town Murder
- Crime Writers On...True Crime Review
- Super Soul
- Dateline NBC
- Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness
- Literally! with Rob Lowe
3. Tech and finance companies dominate the top podcast advertisers
Nine of the top spenders in podcast advertising are companies from the technology and finance industries—and seven of them rank in the top nine spots. Collectively, these nine companies spent $18M on podcast advertising in January 2021.
4. Top podcast advertisers skew towards short and sweet ads
It’s difficult to nail down the optimum length of a podcast ad. Based on the data in the Magellan AI platform, we found which ad placements are most common for each advertiser, and how long those ads are on average.
From this data, we can see that the average length of a podcast ad from the top spenders is 76 seconds (75.9 to be precise). Only three advertisers ran ads averaging longer than two minutes, with the shortest average coming in at 33-second pre-roll ads from ExpressVPN.
When we cross-reference the ad length with the number of shows detected, 4 of the top 5 are under a minute long. BetterHelp put out the longest ad (2m 13s) and got the most detected ads at 400. As mentioned, they also spend more than anyone.
5. Mid-roll placement is the go-to choice
Ad placement is always a significant consideration in podcast advertising. From the data on the top spenders, we can see a clear preference for mid-roll ads.
- Pre-roll ads - 22% of ads on average
- Mid-roll ads - 67% of ads on average
- Post-roll ads - 11% of ads on average
Two of the top spenders had nearly even distribution across the three placement types: Progressive and McDonald's. The insurance company, Progressive, was the only one of the top 15 with the highest concentration on post-roll ads.
6. Brand mentions
On average, the top 15 spenders made 5 brand mentions in their ads, with some advertisers taking a more zealous approach than others. For example, Oracle mentioned their brand just once in 52 seconds, whereas ZipRecruiter managed to squeeze in their brand name 12 times in 87 seconds.
If you only have a minute to reach your target audience, dropping in the brand name a few times is a must-do. However, there is no hard-and-fast rule about how often you should do this in an ad.
There is a lot to consider when you're learning how to write a podcast ad or working with a host to perfect their delivery. We can use the insights from companies that spend a lot on this channel and apply them to our ads.
The key takeaways from the top podcast advertisers of January 2021:
- Target Society & Culture shows to maximize your reach.
- Keep your ads between 45-90 seconds.
- Mid-roll ads are the safe choice, regardless of spend.
- Don't go overboard with brand mentions - once every 10-15 seconds is fine.
As your team focuses on the creative and placement optimization of your podcast ads, you should be able to refine your media plan and achieve your optimal return on ad spend. Until then, you can keep learning from the top podcast advertisers through our monthly reports.
Want to see how Magellan AI can simplify and optimize your podcast advertising? Book a demo today.