Comedy, true crime and business see biggest ad spend growth

US podcast ad spend increased by 5% year on year, MediaRadar report reveals

Business, true crime and comedy are the fastest-growing genres in terms of podcast advertising spend, according to a new report by advertising intelligence platform MediaRadar. 

The report is based on MediaRadar’s analysis of US ad spend within various podcast genres between 1 January 2022 and 31 July 2023. News, politics, and society & culture were also considered in the top programming categories, with the six categories accounting for 58% of total podcast ad spend (which also rose by 5% year-on-year) between them. 

“Our analysis provides valuable insights into how advertisers are leveraging the power of podcasts to connect with their audiences,” said MediaRadar CEO Todd Krizelman. “These insights can guide marketers in shaping more strategic and effective campaigns.”

Business saw the most growth compared to the other podcast genres, with ad revenue rising by 30% year on year, which MediaRadar attributed to investments from major players such as Amazon, Athletic Greens, and Shopify. Podcasts in the business space are usually targeted at listeners who seek out shows to stay up-to-date on industries and topics that they want to keep up with, which makes up the reason why more than half of listeners in the US tune into podcasts - according to another recent study by voiceover marketplace Voices

SiriusXM’s 2023 Podcast Trends Report, which analyses a combination of first-party and third-party data, describes one of three news podcast audiences often include listeners who are likely to be slightly older and more established with interests that lie in spending and investment. As a result, they likely have more of a purchase intent with 25% of news audiences making business decisions after listening to a podcast and over 90% taking an action. 

True crime also saw a 26% year-on-year increase in ad spending in the space of just one quarter, according to MediaRadar’s findings, from advertisers like HelloFresh and Progressive Auto Insurance. This genre had a significant increase in content growth, SiriusXM’s trends report said, rising by 207%. Women make up 66% of overall podcast listeners, according to Voices’ report, and since women also tend to be the majority of true-crime audiences, this is a space where brands can successfully target niche demographics like mothers. 

SiriusXM highlighted a specific case study in which a popular diaper brand worked with Crime Junkie, which is ranked as the top most listened to podcast in the US with 27 million listeners, to successfully deliver a host-read ad campaign. It allowed host Ashley Flowers to share her own experience with postpartum depression, and led to strong engagement from young mothers who are listeners of the podcast. 

“To effectively monetise podcasts, it’s crucial to embrace the diverse range of genres and work with publishers or third parties capable of aggregating audiences across multiple podcast titles," said A Million Ads (AMA) chief revenue officer Paul Kelly. “Whether it's true crime, comedy, or any other genre, leveraging a comprehensive catalogue of shows ensures optimal monetization and meaningful engagement with the intended audience.”

“By shifting our approach from cherry-picking popular genres to embracing the true value of podcasting as a channel, we can elevate the industry's ad tech infrastructure to mirror the sophistication of the wider digital media landscape."

Comedy, which according to Edison Research was the top podcast genre as of Q1 2023, increased its podcast advertising spend by 10% year on year, with brands like mental health services platform BetterHelp, website building and hosting company Squarespace, and fintech company UNest investing in the space. 

According to Global’s Show Me The Funny whitepaper, comedy podcast listeners are highly engaged, with more than half finding ads memorable and 57% saying that they are planning to listen to more comedy podcasts going forward. SiriusXM’s report similarly stated that comedy podcasts are a key opportunity for brands, as 94% of comedy listeners take action after hearing a podcast ad.

“I started podcasting a little over three years ago, and I immediately loved it because it is such an intimate medium,” said comedian Conan O’Brien. “People are very unguarded. Things get very real. The comedy is very organic. I think the format is incredible. I think there's a lot more exploration to be done in podcasting. I think for comedy, it's fantastic.”