Monthly Archives: September, 2016

Just Make Sure They Know It’s An Ad

Podcast listeners prefer native host-read ads to recorded units, according to new research from the IAB and Edison Research. According to this new study, 55% of podcast listeners expressed a positive sentiment to hearing an ad discussed by the show’s host, while 34% had the same response when asked how they liked “pre-recorded advertisements from a brand, company or sponsor.” If the advertiser was positioned as the sponsor of a show they liked, the listener’s response was favorable 61% of the time.

Podcast listeners put a lot of weight in ads read live by hosts. One interesting note about this is, I know from talking to some podcast publishers, that those ads are often recorded, but with the design and intention of having them sound like part of the program. One person told me the ad is actually recorded when the program is recorded, but separately. This, so that scheduling, starting and stopping a campaign, and dynamic ad insertion can happen. Good idea. New ads each time, with the same tempo of the day’s program.

Podcasters have developed a really great niche in native ads. That comes from a few places. First, let’s give credit to public radio, one of the early sources of great podcast content. Public radio folks are all about host read ads that don’t really sound like ads, born out of the requirements of publicly funded on-air broadcasting. That training made them approach ads in podcasts from a different place – a live, host read, irregular length, soft sell approach that feels like part of the program, not part of a commercial stop-set.

Second, native ads were born from necessity, since the first advertisers that were willing to invest in the space were direct response brands who were evaluating the success of the campaign based on the results. That made podcasters work hard to make it work.

Native ads are great for podcasting – they make listeners happy, and happy listeners spend more time listening. They make advertisers happy, and that makes them spend more. As demand for the inventory grows, and it will because audience is growing, it will be important for advertisers and sellers to remember the importance of the native sounding approach to listeners.

At the same time, podcasters and advertisers should be aware of the FTC guidelines for truth in advertising. It has to be clear that it’s an ad. Sounds easy, but with host-read ads it can get a little tricky. It’s a good idea to very clearly identify the ad as an ad to avoid any confusion. For more information, you can check out the guidelines from the FTC here.


New York Life Touts Results from WNYC Podcast Ads

The Podcast Upfront earlier this week, produced by the IAB, was the best one day audio conference the industry has ever seen. Set in the beautiful auditorium at the Time Inc building in NYC, the second annual event brought tons of energy and excitement for podcasts to the audience of potential advertisers. It featured many presentations – each segment was great – some due to celebrity podcaster presence, some due to really great insights. Highlights of the day included celebrities: Katie Couric, Ira Glass, Malcolm Gladwell, Questlove, Abby Wambach, Shaquille O’Neal, Marc Maron, Adam Carolla, Amber Rose, and others, all touting their podcasts and ad opportunities. Michael Rapaport from podcast I Am Rapaport stole the show as the host for the afternoon. And information – new research from Edison and IAB, a case study from New York Life, insights on audience and advertising from WNYC, a great immersive audio experience from Wondery, and more, more, more. It was an incredibly dense, powerful day for podcasting full of hip, fun, interesting, diverse energy. When the show wrapped up after almost 8 hours of stagetime, the seats were still as full as they were when the show started – evidence of the high quality of the program.

One of the most meaningful segments was WNYC’s presentation which was chock full of really great data on their podcast platform, which sees 30 million downloads a month. CFO Margaret Hunt had several really great data points to share that advertisers were sure to take note of:

  • 91% of listeners to their podcasts complete the program they are listening to.
  • 95% of their listeners have taken action as a result of hearing an ad in a podcast

Hunt then introduced Kari Axberg, VP Strategy & Experience at New York Life, who presented a case study on a podcast campaign they ran with WNYC which netted tremendous results, including:

  • 14% lift in brand awareness
  • 47% lift in brand favorability
  • 33% lift in purchase consideration

Impactful stuff. Possibly the most meaningful info of the day in terms of motivating the advertisers in the room to spend more in the medium.


The day ended with a loud and lively cocktail reception featuring a live podcast experience with Adam Carolla and Shaquille O’Neal. There were photo ops all over the place. Katie didn’t come to the party, but I did get a selfie with Abby Wambach that made my daughter jealous 🙂



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