General Listening

Is 2016 the year of Podcast Advertising?

2016 is definitely the year of podcast advertising, especially considering our partnership with Triton Digital announced back in December. Even if it still has to scale before it becomes mainstream, big Internet brands like MailChimp and Amazon, along with plenty of startups like underwear brand Mack Weldon, have been using ads to pursue new customers through podcasts.

According to estimates from ZenithOptimedia, ad spending on podcasts in the U.S. could hit $35.1 million in 2016. That’s only 0.06 percent of all digital ad spending, but some say that estimate is low and that it could go as high as $50 million this year. – via

Even if we’re talking about tiny numbers, it doesn’t mean that they won’t potentially grow, and quickly at that. If we just think about how podcast audiences grew in these few years, it will only increase more and more. In this regard, in April 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that “the percentage of Americans who have listened to a podcast in the past month has almost doubled since 2008, from 9% to 17% by January of 2015. The percentage listening in 2015 was up two points over 2014 levels (15%).” Edison Research also reported that fully one-third (33%) of all Americans 12 years of age or older now say they have listened to at least one podcast.



This increase in audience per year and the uncharted territory in which it’s possible to test new ways for advertising are for sure two of the most relevant reasons why companies have begun investing in audio advertising. Another reason is that podcasts are different from other new media:

Not only do people listen to the ads, they actually enjoy them. First, most people simply can’t ignore the ads. More than 25% of podcast consumers listen during their morning commute. Other popular podcasting activities include walking the dog, doing household chores, and working out. These activities don’t allow you to fast-forward through an ad, nor do they let you focus on something else until the ad finishes. – via

That’s something that big companies have already understood, like Inc. who is now ramping up its investment in podcasts and other radio-style shows in order to expand the types of programming it offers, like Audible, the audio book company it acquired in 2008. Or, Mailchimp, which started an incredibly successful sponsorship with Serial. According to the company’s Marketing Manager for Brand Marketing:

“The people who listen to podcasts tend to be passionate and have an abiding attachment to what they listen to. The opportunity for brand awareness is tremendous.” On top of that, “there’s another opportunity to be helpful in a meaningful way to the people creating the podcasts.” – via

Speaking of the opportunity for brand awareness in podcast advertising, there’s a well-to-do case of how podcast advertising might be flourishing: it’s the fact that the brand Mack Weldon, which sells “smart underwear for smart guys,” is investing 25 percent of its overall budget per month in Podcast advertising, 100 times more than a year ago. The medium has become more effective than display ads for the company, because when people listen to podcasts, they are fully engaged and can continue listening while making a purchase.

“Men don’t feel comfortable talking about their underwear because it’s personal. But men like hearing underwear jokes in podcasts because they are relatable.” That’s an observation from Collin Willardson, marketing manager for Mack Weldon. “Because of the humorous content, people started downloading our podcast,” said Willardson. “We’d worked with Comedy Bang Bang before, but the live read doubled our sales.” – via

However, even if something has started to change, measuring results is still difficult since there’s no way to know if someone who downloaded the podcast with an ad actually listened to it. In any case, this could be good news for advertisers willing to experiment and take the risk of trying something new.

The gap between podcast audience growth and podcast advertising growth is an opportunity for brands willing to try something new for a good investment, especially since the number of downloads alone can’t present a full picture of the actual number of podcast listners. The Financial Times, for example, will focus on specific URLs this year as a more accurate metric.

So, is this year really the one in which podcasting starts becoming mainstream? We definitely hope so! And you, what do you think? Tell us in the comments!

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