Two ads per break is the optimal ad load for podcasts, new study reveals

Advertisers should beware of podcast ad overload, with no more than four ads per break

Podcast ad performance suffers the more ads are included per break, according to a new study by audio and podcast advertising agency Ad Results Media, with two ads being the optimal amount from a CPA perspective.

The 14-month completed study analysed over $80 (£66) million that was spent on advertising and compared performance depending on the number of ad counts per commercial break. It found that including too many ads per episode can lead to increased listener fatigue, with listeners becoming more likely to ignore or skip them. 

According to the study, two ads per commercial break is the ideal number that advertisers should aim for in order to reach listeners and have their full attention. Three to four ads is the max that advertisers are advised to have per break, with the performance drop-off rate going up by 12%.

“These findings suggest that podcast listeners are more likely to skip or ignore ads when there are too many of them,” said Ad Results Media senior vice president of media operations Lisa Prentis Jacobs. “When there are only two ads in a break, listeners are more likely to give each ad their full attention. This leads to better ad recall and conversion rates.”

Once advertisers go up to five ads and above, the drop-off increases significantly, going up by 46% compared to commercial breaks with two ads. According to the study, the reason that ads perform worse is because listeners become fatigued with too many ads, tune out or skip ads altogether, or start to perceive the podcast as too commercial and less valuable due to the volume of ads. 

Ad Results Media’s study follows the agency’s research in April on the effectiveness of podcast advertisements in 2023, using data from a number of sources including Edison’s Infinite Dial 2023, Sounds Profitable’s Medium Moves the Message report, WARC’s podcasting Global Ad Trends report, and IAB US podcast advertising revenue data. 

The analysis advises brands on how to run an effective podcast advertising campaign and increase their ROI by advertising on shows that reach their target audience, verifying ad placements, measuring campaign performance through solutions like post-conversion surveys and pixel-based attribution, and more.