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New research reveals podcast advertising commands highest levels of attention

A new study commissioned by the Guardian found podcast advertising raises positive perceptions of brands and encourages listeners to take buying action.

New research reveals podcast advertising commands highest levels of attention
Imogen Fox: “This study gives us a deeper understanding of the relative effectiveness of podcast advertising versus other media formats.”

The nationwide study, undertaken on behalf of the Guardian by independent research company Tapestry, looked at the effectiveness of podcast advertising and found that podcast advertising commands the highest levels of attention of any media channel. The study found 65% of listeners paid attention to podcast adverts - more than adverts on TV at 39% and adverts on the radio at 38%.

These high levels of attention translate into greater likelihood to buy the product or service being advertised. For example, 51% of weekly users of each channel said podcast adverts made them want to buy something from the brand versus 38% for radio.

According to the Guardian, its own branded podcasts are particularly impactful, improving listeners’ opinions of brands. When comparing the same adverts being played on the Guardian and other unbranded podcasts people are more likely to say the ad was “informative”, “memorable” and “appealing”.

51% of respondents surveyed said hearing about a brand on a Guardian podcast improved their opinion about a brand and made them want to find out more about a brand.

The research findings are in line with results seen by brands advertising with the Guardian including retailer Ocado. Ocado, who are the sponsors for Comfort Eating, after advertising with the Guardian saw an uplift in new customers, with 25% saying they’d listened to the podcast. They also saw a 62% increase in positive customer brand perception and 89% new unique visitors to their website, says the Guardian.

On its own, indicates the research, podcast advertising has clear benefits - they are strong at telling consumers something new about a brand, raising perceptions and ultimately, driving purchase.

Interestingly, in combination with other media, the overall effectiveness of an advertising campaign is maximised by adding podcasts into the mix. For example, those saying “it tells me something new about the brand” increases by 34% when podcasts are added alongside a radio campaign.

They also help dial-up the ‘brand’ part of branded content - 47% of those exposed to branded content said “it improves my opinion of the brand”. Add podcast adverts to the mix and the same metric jumps to 64%.

Combined with the visual cues of digital display, podcasts make campaigns more memorable and trustworthy. Trust levels increase from 45% to 63% when podcasts are added into the media mix.

Podcasts are now reaching younger and more diverse audiences, many of whom are parents - 26% of weekly podcast listeners are now coming from non-white backgrounds and the average listener age is younger at 37, compared to 40 in previous Guardian research in 2020.

Podcasts have shown the most growth of any media, helping them to become more mainstream - 41% of podcast listeners are listening to podcasts more than they were 12 months ago, increasing to 53% for the Guardian audience.

Imogen Fox, director of advertising, Guardian News & Media, said: “As the leaders in podcasting, the Guardian set out to produce advertising insights that would help our customers make better planning and buying decisions. This study gives us a deeper understanding of the relative effectiveness of podcast advertising versus other media formats - like radio. It’s really interesting to see the boost that podcasts provide when the various formats are working together.”

“The fact that podcasts are commanding higher levels of attention and increase the effectiveness of other formats means they should be an essential addition to any media plan.”

Claire Blunt, chief advertising officer and CEO, International, Guardian News & Media, said: “Guardian podcasts have been seeing massive growth, with global monthly listens to Guardian podcasts increasing by over 60% since the start of the pandemic. The Guardian offers a unique combination of quality, trust and a devoted listening audience that we have built a real connection with. All of this means that we can deliver impressive results for brands.”

The Guardian is a leading commercial podcast publisher with several hit shows including Comfort Eating with Grace Dent which has seen two successful series to date, as well as Today in Focus, Football Weekly and Audio Long Read.

For more information on the research project you can download a copy of the report here.


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