Ronn TorossianRonn Torossian

According to Brandastic, more than 155 million consumers listened to a podcast at least once a week in 2020. The digital marketing agency said the average podcast listener averaged seven different shows weekly. Brandastic also reported that there were more than 700,000 active podcasts when they surveyed the marketplace. Many podcasts are targeted to niche audiences, so there may be perfect target markets for some brands.

Other valuable findings provided by Brandastic showed that nearly half (49 percent) of podcast listeners are consumers 25 to 44 years of age. In 2020, the company noted that Spotify took over the number-one spot for podcasts from Apple. Google lost a lot of ground but still retained a third position.

Another recent survey by Edison Research and Triton Digital reported that there were 1.9 million podcasts as of March 2021. Even more revealing was that more than 33 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are podcast regulars. That’s more than 104 million Americans. Podcast’s growing popularity is a strong signal for other brands to jump aboard while it’s still rising in popularity.

Getting started

In marketing, finding the perfect fit is critical. This is particularly true for podcast advertising because so many are directed to target audiences. Audience size shouldn’t be the determining factor in deciding what to sponsor. Once the right fit is found, the results can be stunning.

WordStream reported even more encouraging news for brands sitting on the sidelines trying to decide. The cross-platform software firm reported that listeners don’t just pay attention to podcast ads. What’s more important is that the company revealed that 75 percent of those listeners follow through on a brand's call to action.

Audience connection

Here’s why finding that perfect fit is so important. With a just right fi it, a brand is assured of hitting that 75 percent CTA. GirlBoss Fashions, for example, has a predominantly female audience and produces several podcasts focused on women’s issues. One meal delivery service, Blue Apron, advertises on chef Adam Carolla’s podcast. These are examples of not only targeting the right audiences, but also airing ads that are authentic and which connect.

Types of ads

There are two types of ads that are utilized in podcasts. One is “baked in” where the host reads the ad script during the podcast. The other is “dynamic insertion” which is inserted by an ad server and aired after the podcast ends. Both are well-received but “baked-in” is recommended because it remains a part of the podcast whenever someone downloads it. The same isn’t always true for “dynamic insertions.”

Cost considerations

Some podcasters offer flat rates, but the majority adhere to CPA (cost per acquisition) or CPM (cost per thousand impressions or views). The most common is CPM. This can make budgeting confusing until there’s a clear pattern in podcast listenership. For example, if the CPM quote was $20 and the podcast drew a total of 20,000 listeners and downloads, the cost would total $400. Of course, that total would likely vary from show to show.

Track and test

One way to track ROI is by including a short, easy-to-remember URL in the ads. Adding a promo code also makes it more attractive as well as trackable. WordStream reported that 95 percent of advertisers do this. Surveys are yet another way, but response rates aren’t nearly as high and average just 30 percent.

Testing can also be invaluable for newcomers to podcast advertising. It can be revealing to run different types of ads and then comparing the results to determine what worked best. This can only result in more effective future ads and better ROI.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of America’s leading PR firms and author of “For Immediate Release.”