Advantages of Podcast Advertising

No, this will not be an article about the great Sean Callanan’s Sports Geek podcast (even though I risk losing your attention –> go check it out!).

I have been a fan of podcasts for quite some time now. I listen to podcasts at any given moment. So much, that I practically don’t listen to music anymore. If I have my headphones on, I’m listening to podcasts. If I’m driving my car, I’m listening to podcasts.

I like podcasts so much that I even started to my own podcast, which still struggles for enough attention. Anyway, I am not writing this article to advertize my podcast, either.


of podcast listeners listen to podcasts in their car, while travelling, working out, or on public transportation


Percentage of podcast listeners that have attended college or have a degree


Percentage of female podcast listeners

Some time ago I noticed that podcasts I listen to all tend to have pretty much the same sponsors. Whether it is a comedy podcast from the USA or football podcast from the UK, they all had pretty much 2 or 3 same sponsors. And I knew there was a conclusion to be drawn from that, but I myself couldn’t figure it out.

Thankfully others did.

Exploring new frontiers

The fact that podcasts are very popular at this moment is not anything new. Simple information that iTunes count 1 billion podcast subscribers just assigns that fact with a size measurement.

In this moment in human history, more information is available than ever before. And for most people in the western world, that infomation is just a click away. But, as always, humans tend to gravitate to actions, in this case information sources, that demand the least possible amount of effort. That is why podcasts are turning into the ultimate way to consume knowledge, especially when right now there is a podcast dedicated to pretty much everything you can think of.

With already large and fast growing audience, podcasting is developing into an important communication platform with a big business potential, especially in terms of marketing.

But, on the other hand, marketing in podcasts is rather new. This only offers the new and unexplored market for companies brave enough to test it.

While people are becoming more and more „blind“ to the ads consumed on TV, radio and Internet, listeners are much more concentrated on ads delivered through podcasts, simply because of the format they are delivered in.

Average time a podcast listener spends listening to a podcast is 22 minutes, which is really remarkable considering that average viewer watches an online video for 5 minutes.

Another advantage that podcasting still posseses, unlike other formats, is their fan devotion, if not even fanatism. Podcasts still have the ability to attract such a form of fan devotion, because it’s a rather intimate format, that fulfills the everyday silence and therefore helps to develop trust between listener and podcaster. The more you listen to a podcast, the more you feel like you know the host. This prepares a very good ground for ads to land on, offering marketers the possibility to even experiment with serialized marketing campaigns.

Unlike TV, radio and Internet, which target mass audiences, podcasts target specific groups that choose to listen to a certain subjects.


of podcast listeners are using social media multiple times a day

“We paid for native and display ads on online publications before, but we found that readers could easily get distracted by 48 things on the homepage” – Collin Willardson’s, Mack Weldon’s marketing manager, on advantage of podcast advertising.


of podcast audience is 18-44 years old


of podcast listeners purchased something as a result of an advertisement they've heard during a podcast

How it’s done

Ice hockey podcasts are very popular, as are many other sport podcasts. Their target audience consists of males in the age group between 21 and 45. That makes them a great medium to market cars, beer, male clothing, meat clubs, etc.


Companies like Squarespace, and are some of those big podcasting marketers that I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Their ads offer podcast listeners discounts if they type in promo codes, specific for each podcast.

That creates a triple win situation. Listener gets the information about a new product and gets a discount, marketers get the infomation about success of their ad on each podcast and podcaster gets financed for their boredom killing services.


Just today I have heard on a podcast a creative new ad about Movement Watches. So I googled them, and now I plan to own a Movement Watch. I reacted that way because I liked what I saw. That would never happen if a precisely targeted ad didn’t direct my attention to their product. And just to think that less than 12 hours ago I have never heard of Movement Watches.

I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time an online ad or any other ad made me have such a reaction. At the same time I can name at least 3 same situations caused by podcast ads.

What do numbers say? 

Edison research found out that 21% of US citizens listen to podcasts at least once a month. With such popularity, there are of course plenty smart phone apps dedicated to podcasting. As are any other successful apps nowadays, they are extremely easy to use, they inform you about new episodes of your favourite podcasts and they automatically download those podcast episodes on your smart phone.

Even though sport podcast are very successful and the variety and size of sport podcast network never stops to amaze me, I have to mention a non-sport podcast, which turned out to be the most successful podcast to date.

“Serial” simply has to be metioned in every podcast article. It is a podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig that uses investigative journalist to narrate a non-fiction story over several episodes. This podcast is, according to Apple, the first podcast to reach 5,000,000 downloads. Estimations suggest that the first season of Serial reached 40,000,000 downloads. Nowadays, not many TV shows can say the same thing.

ZenithOptimedia predicts that advertisers will spend $35,1M on podcasts in 2016, which is about 2% more than in 2015. At the same time advertisers invest about $18B in radio and $67B in TV.


podcast subscribers listen to every episode


of people listen to podcasts on smart phones


Number of downloads the first season of Serial podcast reached

Success Story 

There is one very interesting success story from podcast martketing.

Men generally don’t feel comfortable talking about their underwear, since it’s private. But men like to hear underwear jokes. Mack Weldon’s marketing manager, Collin Willardson, had that same train of thought.

Mack Weldon was another of those advertizers I heard about on many various podcasts. Their approach was to create different campaigns for different types of podcasts. The only common thread was their product and humour.

For example, Sport podcasts would make fun about uncomfortable underwear for sport activities and technology podcast hosts could explain Mack Weldon’s high-tech high-performance fabric in a way they knew their listeners will find interesting and funny.

is the number you get when you divide Mack Weldon total sales post-podcast marketing and pre-podcast marketing


of podcast listeners in the USA have $75K+ annual income

Every podcast I listened to that advertized Mack Weldon products, always used different, original, funny and relateable approach to fulfill their obligations to sponsors.

Either Mack Weldon gave these podcast hosts freedom to be creative, or Mack Weldon’s ad writers were so good that listenting to their ads gave you the impression they were improvised by those particular hosts and their specific sense of humour.

Mr. Willardson explains their approach:

“When we sign on shows, we ask the host to do what they feel is best for their audience and the show, they’re the ones talking to their audience in every episode, so they know what their audience likes and dislikes.”

Mack Weldon now spends about 25% of their marketing budget on podcasting, which is 100 times more than they did a year ago.  They “only” doubled their total sales since they engaged in podcast advertising.

Podcast listeners are, accoring to Edison Research, expected to reach 98,000,000 this year, which would make a 3% growth since 2015. The same report shows that weekly podcast listeners listen to 5 different podcast episodes each week. I’m not ashamed to admit, I’m at 3 podcast episodes per day now. Some people binge TV shows, I binge podcasts. And these numbers suggest there is a lot of us who do the same.


Even though podcasting is a small advertisers’ playing field, big brands are also aware of the podcast trend. In the last few months Midroll, podcast advertising agency, added Dunkin ‘Donuts, Chipotle, Allstate, Wendy-a and Procter & Gamble as their clients.

I’ll let Mack Weldon’s Collin Willardson finish this paragraph:

“Some brands are doing well in podcasting, while some are not. We have really fallen in love with this channel, and we will try to measure it as accurately as possible.”

Benefits Render Issues unimportant

Even though podcasts still do experience issues, with no accurate way to calculate the number of listeners maybe being the biggest one, it offers advertizers a new way to reach customers: through advertizing that feels much more like friendly recommendation from people that listeners feel a strong connection to, podcast hosts. Podcast advertising offers a more accurate way to target customers, combined with friendly and trustworthy approach. Which company then wouldn’t want to dig into podcast marketing in their pursuit of success and growth?

Tomislav Žarković

Tomislav Žarković

Overtime Sports Marketing

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