Vice President and Director of Social Content
“Serial,” a podcast from the creators of public radio’s “This American Life,” became widely popular after debuting in 2014. MailChimp sponsored the first season, not knowing it would garner a cult following. Podcast advertising makes up a small share of overall digital spending, but it is worth doing when well targeted. eMarketer’s Rebecca Chadwick spoke with Mark Book, vice president and director of social content for agency DigitasLBi, about how advertisers can take advantage of this channel.
eMarketer: Given the popularity of “Serial,” which premiered over a year ago, do you think that podcasts are more valuable for advertisers than they used to be?
Mark Book: There have been a couple of brand successes in this space that have not been equally as successful as “Serial,” but have broken the barrier for brands to play as well. There definitely has been, at least from our initial research, increases in audio-on-demand. People in transitional moments—whether that’s traveling to work or at the gym—want to be more entertained, informed or educated via something like a podcast rather than music, and that’s a big opportunity for clients.
The biggest issue with podcasts is that it’s very difficult to target people or to get people to actually download a podcast—it takes a fair amount of media to run across a whole bunch of different networks.
eMarketer: According to estimates from ZenithOptimedia, US podcast ad spending will be $35.1 million in 2016, which is 0.06% of digital ad spending. If it is such a small amount, why are advertisers doing it?
Book: There is an opportunity in podcast advertising, but it is harder to measure against whom you are actually reaching. There are three or four major podcast-focused media companies in the space, such as Panoply and Gimlet, but they are not necessarily aligned on identifying best practices—how to hone down and target.
“People who listen to one podcast are probably more likely to listen to five or six podcasts that week.”
When we talk about digital spending, the thought is that you will know everything about your customer. However, that is not the case with podcast ad spending. For certain brands, not to have all of that information available dissuades them.
eMarketer: What advice do you give clients for spending on podcasting ads?
Book: Going to popular audio-only mediums is probably the best way to do it. Certain networks that have access to shout-outs and integrations in like-minded content is very good. People who listen to one podcast are probably more likely to listen to five or six podcasts that week. Other audio streaming services such as Pandora or Songza are good ways to go as well.
eMarketer: How do you persuade clients to get their feet wet?
Book: We are in discussions about podcasts with local clients, and we are doing an audio streaming and podcast integration shout-out strategy. When we have clients who are interested in buying radio and similar channels, we will certainly test the waters with certain podcasts and other audio streaming partners.
However, I am hoping that we can change the spending levels with the breakthrough of certain brands. A better understanding of what metrics are available and figuring out better ways to target would be helpful.