Advertising across more shows doesn’t result in proportionally greater reach, Edison says

Advertising beyond top 25 shows sees diminishing returns for reach

While brands can reach 45% of weekly US podcast listeners by advertising across the top 25 US podcasts, wider investment yields drastically diminishing returns, according to new insights from Edison Research.

The data is taken from the company’s podcast metrics tool, which measures a quarterly sample of over 2,000 respondents aged 18+ who listen to podcasts at least monthly. This sample in particular is from Q4 2022 to Q1 2023 and measures weekly podcast listeners aged 13 and above. 

Edison determined the cumulative reach of different shows by combining the number of listeners, and then subtracting listeners that listened to more than one, thereby eliminating duplication within the dataset.

By increasing the scale from the top 25 podcasts to the top 100, the only difference in audience reach is an additional 15%. The percentage continues to drop as the number of top podcasts increase, so adding another 400 shows will only increase the reach to 76% and the next 500 shows only add another 5%. 

However, the data does not support exclusively advertising against top shows. According to Edison Research, the remaining 19% goes to smaller shows that rank either 1001 or higher, which usually have a smaller audience but can still benefit advertisers who want to reach a more engaged audience or build brand awareness. The 19% also equals 17 million listeners that the top 1,000 podcasts do not reach. 

“All across the spectrum there are effective podcasts targeting niche audiences that can really pay off for the right advertiser,” the Edison Weekly Insights newsletter said. “If, for instance, one is selling small-batch, high-end whiskey, one can advertise on shows for people who are interested in such.”

“...Podcasting has become a mainstream medium whose top shows can reach incredible numbers, but we understand reach isn't the only benefit of podcast advertising, nor is it feasible to buy ads on all top 500 shows.”

As of March 2023, Edison revealed that the top 10 podcasts in the US - which reach 35% of weekly listeners - include The Joe Rogan Experience, Crime Junkie, The Daily, This American Life, Morbid: A True Crime Podcast, Stuff You Should Know, Call Her Daddy, The Ben Shapiro Show, Dateline NBC, and SmartLess.

A UK version of the Edison Podcast Metric tool will soon be available to subscribers in Q3 of this year, senior director of research Gabriel Soto announced during a session at The Podcast Show last week. The tool will measure more than 2,000 weekly podcast listeners in the UK aged 15 and over every quarter, with the first dataset covering research from Q2 2023.