Why podcasts are crucial for your media mix

The Podcast Advertising Summit shows interest in the medium is thriving

Whether you’re eagerly listening to a motivational podcast to power through a gym session, finding solace in a host's shared experiences whilst doing the dishes, or anticipating the release of a new episode from your favourite creator to accompany you on your commute, podcasts are with us 24/7. With UK adults spending an average of 47 minutes with podcasts each day (up 24% year-on-year), podcasts have become an essential companion in our lives, according to the Global Web Index 2021-2022 report. 

With this in mind, it makes sense that advertisers are paying more attention to podcasting - which is why we partnered with PodPod and Campaign to support last week’s Podcast Advertising Summit, delivering a range of insights for brands and agencies. 

Not convinced on podcast advertising yet? I’ll give you a sneak peek at what I spoke about on stage to tell you why you should be. 

Podcasts drive culture 

Today, podcasts are a key driver of social and cultural conversations. This is evident in the remarkable growth of podcast listenership, up 110% over the last five years, with the average person tuning in to five episodes per week according to eMarketer. 

With over 5 million podcasts (including more than 100,000 video podcasts), we’ve seen that podcasts have become constant companions for people, providing a resource from which to learn, be entertained, and stay up to date on current events. This is because creators not only have deep connections with their listeners, but can also foster these connections further by diving into the cultural moments that matter most to their audience. 

In my case, as an avid Manchester United fan, I’m a loyal listener of Talk of the Devils - it keeps me up to date with all Manchester United news and analysis, making me one of many who are big fans of sports podcasts. Fun fact: sports fans are 48% more likely to discover a brand through ads on music streaming platforms or podcasts, according to GWI’s data. 

So this authentic connection extends into advertising, too. Our Sonic Science 2.0 Survey from 2023 found that 58% of listeners’ ad engagement carried over from the podcast content heard immediately. That’s good news for marketers, because the more impactful the audio content is, the more impactful the ad will be. By advertising in podcasts, brands have the opportunity to become part of that intimate connection and engage with the audience they care most about. 

This year, the attention economy will be a key challenge for the industry, especially as marketers try to connect with hard-to-reach young audiences. With consumers having more platforms than ever to spend their time on, it’ll be a battle for centre stage and only the best brand messages will break through the noise. According to our Culture Next report, in the first half of 2023, Gen Z listened to more than 3 billion podcast episodes (up 76% year-on-year). I predict that number will only continue to grow, and we’ll be seeing more listeners, advertisers and publishers flocking to this powerful medium. 

Proving your ad was seen and heard 

Studies have shown that one of the reasons that advertisers have held back on digital audio is a lack of measurement solutions to help them understand and justify their investments in this space. As digital audio continues to boom and proving ROI today is more important than ever, it’s critical marketers understand the impact of their digital audio investments. 

Over the last few years, we’ve been modernising podcast advertising to make it a true digital ad channel - just like video and social. By introducing better targeting with tools like Streaming Ad Insertion, helping advertisers reach podcast listeners at scale with the Spotify Audience Network, proving the impact of podcast advertising with innovative measurement solutions like Spotify Ad Analytics and innovating on the ad experience itself – we’re bringing digital audio to the forefront and making it a must-buy for advertisers. This isn’t just good for Spotify, but for advertisers and creators across the industry. 

This is all innovation we can drive internally; however, much of the innovation and evolution still needs to come from the third-party measurement companies who provide currency across multiple audio environments within our ecosystem. This was a key takeaway from a number of sessions at the Podcast Advertising Summit, with multiple speakers such as The Barber Shop founder Dino Myers-Lamptey highlighting the need for more universal measurement. 

Cultivating creativity 

Another key theme from last week’s Podcast Advertising Summit was creativity. As the rules of creativity continue to evolve, I want to spotlight three digital audio campaigns from 2023 that smashed it on the creativity front so advertisers can see what’s possible: 

As one of the panellists from my Summit session aroundhow to unpack podcast impact, I know Channel 4 truly understands the power of digital audio and isn’t afraid of taking risks, which is why its Streamland campaign is one of my favourites from 2023. Channel 4’s Streamland leveraged Spotify to reach younger audiences and increase digital viewership with an interactive experience that created five personalised recommendations of shows a user might want to watch based on their listening habits. With CTA cards, Channel 4 visually teased the Streamland experience to listeners at scale as they streamed podcasts, and introduced them to relevant Channel 4 show recommendations. They also leveraged podcast host-reads fromThe Receipts,Jaackmaate’s Happy HourandThe Fellasto provide users with personalised anecdotes on finding content with Streamland. I love this campaign because it showcases how brands can build an engaging and interactive experience for audiences by creatively leveraging various ad formats within digital audio.

Another panellist from my session, Monzo is also a killer advertiser that is leaned in on the value of podcast advertising and is a prime example of how to be strategic with podcast ads. As the launch sponsor for Goalhanger’s The Rest is Moneypodcast, Monzo nailed finding the right podcast hosts to bring its brand to life in an authentic and credible way, which is particularly important for a financial services brand. As highlighted in the host-read ad, Steph McGovern is a small business owner herself, which made it easier for her to pitch Monzo’s products and services to fellow businesses. This level of brand alignment between advertiser and creator is one of the key elements that make podcast ads so effective. During the session, Monzo called out that they’ve seen strong ROI from these podcast ads, which we love to hear! 

I’ll be honest and say I only learned about this campaign at last week’s Summit, but I absolutely loved Wendy’s bold approach to raising brand awareness with The Burger Files, the first true (burger) crime podcast that you didn’t know you needed in your life. I’ve been listening to the podcast over the past week, and it’s gold - it’s funny, quirky, and most importantly effective. This is creativity at its finest, and truly shows how any brand can be fun and engaging with podcasts. All the kudos to the Wendy’s UK team, along with Fresh Air who created this masterpiece - I’m hooked! 

With the incredible success of these fresh and innovative campaigns, I hope brands can see that podcast advertising offers a unique opportunity for their message to resonate. So what are you waiting for? Get stuck in!