Ross Adams: What the US podcast advertising market can learn from Europe

Acast’s CEO talks direct response ads vs mainstream agencies, programmatic advertising, and keyword targeting

It’s no secret that the US advertising market is very different to Europe’s, and that’s just as true for podcasting as it is for other media. For both UK brands trying to leverage podcast audiences in the US and UK podcasters trying to break America, these differences can be a frequent stumbling block. However, there are some areas of advertising in which the UK and Europe are leading the pack - including podcasts.

Acast CEO Ross Adams has been in audio for more than two decades, with roles at Global and Spotify under his belt, and has first-hand experience in advertising on both sides of the pond. In the latest episode of PodPod, Adams spoke with Rhianna Dhillon and Adam Shepherd about the biggest differences in the podcast advertising market between the US and the UK, the growth of programmatic and keyword-based advertising as a growing trend in the US, and why he believes that Sweden is the most advanced European country when it comes to podcast technology and trends. 

Key Takeaways

Direct response advertising dominates the US

“If you look at the podcast market in UK and Europe, the big chunk of the spend… comes through the major agency groups,” Adam said. “You look at the US and that's the exact opposite. Direct response advertisers are the ones that are running the show in the US.”

“The ability to buy audiences on scale has been a hindrance for those major [US] agencies. They represent huge brands who need huge scale and podcasting hasn't necessarily delivered that huge scale here in the US. You've got a population of 360 million-plus yet podcasting maybe reaches over a hundred million uniques on a monthly basis. It’s still got a long way to go to be considered a mass media with high penetration, from a reach perspective.” 

Podcast ads cater to a different listening environment than radio

“You don't need to be loud to stand out, you have the intent, lean-forward medium,” says Adams. “Radio's background, streaming music is background - so therefore ads are gonna be background.”

“You are seeking out content on podcasting to push play on-demand, to listen intently to that content, so therefore an ad-mass is going to cut through that much greater and we've got research that says it's seven times as effective as radio so therefore higher CPMs. And if you can track it in a digital way, it becomes super interesting.”

Key-word advertising can lead to more effective podcast campaigns

“Through keyword targeting and through conversational targeting, we start to understand the conversations that are happening within podcasts,” Adams explained.

“And then actually, if your advertising can be as close to that keyword they're talking about as possible, the relevancy should see a mass uplift in brand awareness and attribution, and convert more... Contextual advertising is going to be the future of advertising in general and we decided to do that jump four, five years back, and we've really evolved that since.” 

Read the full transcript


How podcasting became a key medium for delivering news

How the podcast industry can weather the coming recession

Please don’t make me download TikTok

How to track your podcast's analytics

Unlocking the benefits of paid podcast subscriptions

Combining podcasts with live events

Winner takes all: How market consolidation is affecting the podcast industry

What makes a successful podcast advertising strategy?

How multichannel podcasting can help build your brand

My Dad Wrote A Porno: Knowing the right time to end your podcast

Acast continues global expansion with new partnership in the Netherlands

The Rest Is Politics team launches new interview podcast

Acast partners with MoJ for new podcast looking at life behind bars

Audio will be an increasing priority for brand media budgets in 2023

Live reads are the most common way to make money in podcasting, says Audioboom VP

Average podcast advertising CPM increased by 2% in 2022, according to Libsyn report

Peloton, Skylight Frame and Etsy significantly increased podcast advertising spending in November

Acast launches new branded podcast on financial well-being in partnership with Self Financial

Podcast watchers more likely to be engaged during ads than TV viewers, according to report

Acast introduces new self-serve ad platform


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