Over recent years podcasts have been overlooked by many advertisers and regarded best as a means to reach niche audiences rather than mass audiences.

However, with rapidly growing listener numbers, this is changing.

Globally, the podcast audience has been growing exponentially over the past decade with 2021 expecting to see a global audience of around 1 billion listeners, rising to 1.5 billion by 2024.

Brands are switching on

Naturally, marketers are seeing this as an attractive audience with expected investment into podcasts following a very similar pattern to projected listening figures.

Warc have reported that 38% of brands are planning to boost their podcast spend in 2021, with ad spend expected to double to £75 million by 2024.

Earlier this year, Spotify credited podcast popularity for a 24% growth in its subscribers, whilst Google, Facebook and Amazon are all investing heavily into their podcast offering too, highlighting the value podcasts can offer for already established market leaders.

Radio-like intimacy

It’s not surprising that advertisers are seeing podcasts as a real opportunity. After all, a lot of marketing plans are generally built on targeting mass audiences through platforms which can offer the scale to do so.

But what makes podcasts so interesting for advertisers is not just their ability to reach a growing number of listeners, but the value of reaching consumers in a highly engaged environment.

Much like radio, podcasts offer an intimate environment whereby the listener feels like they have a one on one relationship with the host, allowing the brand rub effect to benefit any native content.

Engagement premium

Unlike radio though, more than 90% of podcast listening takes place through headphones making it an extremely intimate listening experience. This has real benefits for advertisers, not least on capturing attention.

In today's fragmented media landscape, attention is harder than ever to attain (reflected in the average person exposed to an astonishing 4,000-10,000 ads per day) meaning being noticed - let alone remembered - is no small feat.

A study by the BBC on ad avoiders found consumers were 22% more likely to remember a brand mention on podcasts compared with a TV ad, whilst Kantar found podcast listeners are more receptive to brand messaging on podcasts compared to TV, online display or social media stories.

Rich content palette

As well as reaching a valuable audience the diversity of fresh content makes them an attractive offering.

Ten years ago, eight of the top ten podcasts were online radio replays.

Today’s top ten feature standalone podcasts spanning genres from true crime, sport and politics to education and celebrity interviews.

And it’s not just the content that is changing.

Committed listeners

Today’s podcast consumers don’t tend to be casual listeners.

They tend to listen to every piece of content that their favourite podcasts put out, meaning brands can build a real rapport with the audience over a longer period of time.

We know from multiple studies that advertising in trusted environments increases key metrics and podcasts are no different.

Research from Acast suggests that 76% of podcast listeners have taken action after hearing podcast advertising whilst Kantar has ranked the ad equity of podcasts second only to influencer based branded content.

Our play

At News UK, we’re in a great position to capitalise on this trend and have already enjoyed some success in this space with ‘Stories of our Times’ winning best consumer media podcast at the recent Campaign Publishing Awards.

Fundamentally, at the crux of any successful podcast is great content, something we have in abundance.

We’re well versed in understanding how our audiences' behaviours are constantly evolving and podcasts can offer additional touchpoints to engage, excite and inspire both our audiences and commercial partners.