ComScore Says People Prefer Ads in Podcasts Over Any Other Digital Medium

Report says 1 in 3 plan to listen more this year

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Advertisers might want to listen up: A new report says that if people have to receive ads, they'd rather hear them in podcasts.

According to results of a new comScore study, ads within a podcast were found to be the least intrusive when compared with other types of digital ads. And not only do listeners not mind hearing them—they act on them. The study of 2,000 U.S. respondents ages 18 to 49 found that two-thirds of listeners have acted on ads they heard in a podcast either by researching a product or service or by actually purchasing something they first heard about in an episode.

The comScore study was commissioned by Wondery, a podcast startup founded by two former Fox executives. The company, which manages seven podcasts, will launch its first Wondery-branded show later this month.

"It confirms one of the things people find notable about advertising on podcasts," Wondery founder and CEO Hernan Lopez said. "There is a lot of direct response advertisements, but they're a special kind."

The podcast boom doesn't seem to be slowing down. The report found that one in three current podcast listeners plan to increase their podcast consumption over the next six months. The demographics of listeners should also be appealing for advertisers: Nearly one in five Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 listen to podcasts at least once a month with one in three men ages 18 to 34 also claiming to tune in. Listeners tend to have a college education, $100,000 or more in household income and describe themselves as early adopters of tech, movies and consumer packaged goods.

"It's clear that we're in the midst of a new podcasting boom, spurred in large part by improved accessibility via mobile and a tidal wave of rich and compelling content," Andrew Lipsman, vp of marketing and insights at comScore, said in a statement. "This research provides strong evidence for why this sector is very attractive for advertisers. Not only do podcasts over-index on reaching some of the most valuable and hardest-to-reach audiences, but they also put consumers in a mindset that's favorable to ad receptivity."

The study also asked respondents questions about how they felt emotionally before and after listening to podcasts. Many said they felt more "connected, intelligent and energized" after listening.

While Wondery only has one advertiser—Blue Apron—so far, others who have been in the podcast business a bit longer have said they're seeing strong results from advertising. During a March interview at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, radio host Ira Glass said the past few years have been a "boom time" for podcast advertising. And while he said he thinks there's likely a podcast bubble that will eventually bust, CPMs earlier this spring were as high as $60 for his show, This American Life.

A recent informal Twitter poll conducted by New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo showed that 32 percent of around 1,500 respondents never skip the voluntary ads in podcasts, while 43 percent sometimes skip them and only 25 percent always do.



Ad spending on podcasts is increasing. According to a recent report by Bridge Ratings Media Research, podcast ad spending in the U.S. could hit close to $170 million this year.

Lopez said he thinks brands haven't come in large numbers into podcasting until now because until recently the ads used to be recorded with a show, which meant that if a listener listens to a podcast from six months ago, the ad is no longer relevant. However, he said that's now changing. (Wondery is inserting dynamic ads that allow brands to control the timing of a campaign.)

"I think it will be the first time that they see such a strong report on positive attitudes towards advertising in a medium," he said. "Of course, there are so many reports about consumers growing increasingly skeptical of being sold to."

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.