Podcast Ads: More Effective Than Radio Ads

pedestrian listening to podcast ads on headphones

I realized today as I was listening to the Anaconda episode of How Did This Get Made that I could not recall a single radio ad I’d heard recently. 

As a Millennial, advertising on podcasts is reaching me far more effectively.

I’m not condemning all radio ads as useless and awful. Instead, what I’m arguing is that if you’re looking to target Millennials and trying to decide between podcasts and radio, I would vote for podcasts.

Here’s why I say that.

Firstly, I’m much more likely to skip radio ads than podcast ads.

If I’m even listening to the radio in the first place, I’m likely in an Uber or in my car. In both situations, I’d have the ability to change the radio channel as soon as I hear an ad starting. I’m a big station jumper. If I can, I switch stations as soon as I lose interest in the song that’s playing. An ad wouldn’t even compete.

If I’m listening to a podcast, though, I’m often doing something else at the same time. Primarily, I like to cook, and sometimes I’ll even listen to a podcast in the shower. This means my arms are usually pre-occupied and can’t skip the ad when it comes on. So I have to hear it out.

Often, like a lot of other Millennials I know, I’ll listen to a podcast on my commute. Perfect ad-skipping activity, you might think. But actually, ad-skipping on podcasts is not as easy as it is on, say, Youtube. I don’t know how long the full ad is. There’s no “Skip Ad” button. Today, in fact, I listened to an ad twice because I tried to skip ahead but didn’t want to miss out on non-ad content and ended up rewinding back too far and just letting it be. On the radio, all I do is change stations. It’s not a big deal if I miss a song. But on a podcast, you’re listening to episodes – I don’t want to miss anything.

Second, the ads I hear on podcasts are more seamlessly integrated than radio ads tend to be.

Radio ads I hear run pretty similar to tv ads. On tv, the shows clearly cut to break and the commercials begin. With radio, the song ends and the ads begin. And with both mediums, I won’t engage when I know I’m about to be hit by a slew of commercials.

On podcasts, a number I listen to begin right off with, “This episode of X was brought to you by Brand Y.” It’s then usually followed with a brief script about the brand. This delivery, though, tends to feel so much more integrated with the rest of the episode. When I first started listening to podcasts, I didn’t even realize I was listening to a pre-recorded segment until I listened to two episodes back to back. The sponsored segment is short and sweet.

Another big reason for the seamless feel of the podcast ad is because it’s delivered by the podcast host. In the How Did This Get Made podcast episode I mentioned at the beginning of this post, host Paul Scheer delivers the sponsored sections but you hear it in his own words. His spiel contains the exact same style of humour that the podcast is known for. You believe that Paul believes in the product and that he wrote everything he’s saying in the spot.

I don’t feel like I’m listening to an ad. I feel like I’m listening to a product review from a trusted source. I am so much more likely to remember Paul asking me to give Squarespace a try than an unknown radio voice telling me to do the same thing. It’s smart, influencer marketing at it’s best. And you’re hitting prime influencer-aware audiences during the podcast.

Lastly, hearing the same sponsored podcast ad over multiple episodes of one series makes the ad stick in my brain. 

Radio ads feel numerous and never ending – crammed between songs to fulfill a daily quota or something. With podcasts, there’s more of a structure within each episode. Your podcast is either going to follow one story (like Criminal) or be made up of multiple segments of different things (like Another Round). And the ads follow the structure too. Sometimes, you get one ad the entire episode. Sometimes, you get a few. Sometimes, when I can’t stop listening to the same podcast and hear a handful in a row, I realize that I memorize the sponsored content. I can practically hear the voice of Criminal’s host, Phoebe Judge, talk about the Casper mattress she bought her dad for Christmas right now.

This proves to me that repetition creates retention. And podcasts are using this strategy with their advertising to great effect. It wouldn’t be the same if radio applied the same strategy to their ads – you’d go insane listening to the same ads over and over again in such a short space of time. This strategy only works with podcasts.

I believe I’ve made my case. Do you agree? Are you a radio fanatic that can’t stop listening to that scripted banter and product jingles? Leave me a comment below – I’d love to know and hear why they appeal to you!



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