Did you know that since 2014, podcast creators have generated over $150 million through Acast alone, with net sales revenue skyrocketing by 73%?

Independent research studying the preferences of 18000 across the UK, US and Sweden analysed the likeability of ad creative, quality of storytelling, brand preference and other measures shows that 3D podcast ads rank highest in terms of likeability relative to regular podcast ads or radio ads. 60% of surveyed listeners prefer 3D podcast ads, versus 51% who prefer ads on regular podcasts, and 47% who like radio ads more. 

Podcast Ad Clarity and Likeability 

Acast’s podcast listener study found that the best ads to feature on podcasts are tailor-made to podcasts, rather than simply copying and pasting repurposed radio ads. Relative to traditional radio ads, message clarity was also found to be two times higher for 3D podcasts versus regular podcasts. It also showed that 56% of listeners favoured brands that used radio ads, in contrast to 60% and 65% of listeners who preferred brands that use 3D podcasts and regular podcasts, respectively. 

The Changing Role of Advertisers in the Podcasting Space

With the popularity of podcasts booming, gone are the days where advertisers were content to just limit themselves to running ads in as hand-off a way possible. No; today’s advertisers increasingly want to play a central role in delivering ads more creatively to highly engaged audiences, alongside the podcast creators that created these communities. We’ve since seen some stellar examples of branded long-form audio content!

In Sweden, Oatly focused on increasing goodwill with a wider audience – by giving the gift of a good night’s sleep. Rather than solely focusing on direct sales, they collaborated with Hendrick Stahl to create a podcast episode to help listeners drift off to sleep to imagery of frolicking in oat fields. That’s one way of raising your brand’s profile!

The US didn’t disappoint either; Macy’s Valentine’s Day Campaign boasted an incredible 77% listen rate for a 10 minute ad when they teamed up with the Giggly Squad, who devoted a podcast episode to recounting their authentic stories and childhood memories of Macy’s, as well as hilarious valentines experiences they had in the past!

For Black History Month, the hosts of the podcast channel Guys Next Door collaborated with Martell, and this campaign resulted in a fantastic 258% lift in Black-identified listeners choosing Martell over competitor cognac brands, post exposure to this episode. But how sustainable was this success? For the entire podcast series, there was an overall 130% lift in listeners choosing Martell over competitors, and an 80.75% average listen through rate.

Tips for Creating Spectacular Podcast-specific Ads

What do great podcast ads sound like?

  1. Great podcast ads adapt to the listeners and respect their space. Whereas radio ads need to be more boisterous and loud to cut through the noise and grab peoples’ attention, Podcast listeners already have your undivided attention. Messages can be more subtle and complementary to the topic of the podcast.
  2. Great ads speak directly to the listener, and try to build a personal connection with each individual listening. These ads work best when they take on a conversational, one on one tone. Advertisers are encouraged to be daring and maybe set them challenges or give them something valuable, like a mini workout session, a guided meditation or visualisation exercise.
  3. Enjoy the silence! Lean into the power of silence to create the perfect pace and elevate the impact of an ad’s messaging.
  4. Create immersive sound experiences, to transport audiences (virtually) to another time and place. For some inspiration, listen to National Highways’ “Don’t Be A Space Invader” campaign.
  5. ‘Keep it simple, silly’. For any ads that are 30 seconds or less, how many messages should you squeeze in? Spoiler: anything over one is too much! One clear message can be more impactful than several convoluted or rushed messages, so less is definitely more here.

Key Takeaways from Acast’s Case Studies

What are the key drivers behind the success of many podcast ad campaigns? Partnerships teams who dedicate themselves to intimately understanding the audiences and platforms of content creators, and stories they love to tell tend to excel. Brands that avoid just inserting themselves intrusively into podcasts and interrupting listener experience will succeed. 

Brands get the most engagement from campaigns that deliver more outside of the campaign than they do within the confines of the campaign. For example, beyond printing 1000 copies of their Money Talks card game, Klarna launched a ‘360 degree campaign’, digital version of the game, used tools like Twitch, worked with YouTubers, social media influencers, running sponsored ads on channels. Video, audio and physical assets were all masterfully used to complement each other.

To find out more about Australia’s Samsung Galaxy and Rulebenders Podcast collaboration, Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign, or why Klarna UK devoted 50% of its marketing budget to the MoneyTalks financial wellbeing campaign (and subsequently smashed their KPI with 80,000 hits in the campaign’s first week!) watch the Sounds Creative virtual event here.