A Strategic Approach to Podcast Advertising

No longer niche, podcast advertising offers brands effective ways to connect with their target audiences.

Alex Morgan
By Alex Morgan

Podcasting has been on the rise since its inception in 2004, now with over 464 million people listening worldwide. With immense growth largely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, podcasting is a more modern way to absorb news and entertainment. In fact, 56% of people want to escape screen usage worldwide — and 52% of U.S. listeners typically finish entire episodes.

Podcasting offers brands and businesses new opportunities to connect with their target audiences. While many still side with traditional radio, podcasting is a fast-growing medium that will likely continue reaching new heights and audiences, eventually outpacing radio with an estimated 505 million podcast listeners by the end of 2024.

The takeaway: Brands must learn to leverage the power of podcast advertising.

Advertising on Podcast Platforms

So, what does advertising look like on podcast platforms?

Offering programmatic approaches and spoken-word advertisements, ads can be placed anywhere in the show. However, the advertising structure in podcasting typically includes three opportunities:


Pre-roll advertisements are played at the beginning of the episode. Here, there is the highest likelihood of active listening since the audience has just begun the episode and is engaged with the content.


Mid-roll advertisements are placed as a break in the content about midway through the episode. This is another ideal placement since the audience is still engaged with the episode and will likely engage with your message.


Post-roll advertisements are placed at the end of the episode. While it may be the cheapest placement, post-roll advertisements will likely be skipped over.

Certain placement types (i.e. host-read ads) can come with a premium cost that can take up much of a budget. This needs to be weighed against campaign goals and objectives, as podcast ads are good for bolstering awareness but aren’t as effective in driving direct site traffic while listening to the ad.

Types of Podcast Advertisements

While advertisements may take many different forms, there are four main types of ads comprising most of the podcast advertising space:

Host-Read Podcast Advertisements
Host-read ads are written beforehand and spoken by the host either before, during or after the episode. These ads are beneficial if your target audience sees the host as someone they trust, giving your brand more credibility to the host’s audience.

Fully Produced Advertisements
A fully produced ad is one that has been prerecorded and inserted into the episode. Read by a member of the production team, the sponsor themselves or a hired voice actor, these ads are often accompanied by signature audio or music. To seamlessly transition these ads into the show, the ad shouldn’t deviate from the style of the podcast.

Data-Driven Podcast Advertisements
Similar to fully produced podcast advertisements, data-driven podcast ads utilize user data to deliver custom ad experiences more likely to resonate with the audience. Brands can also receive more data on their end from these advertisements, relaying information like reach, audience insights and more to help strategize and implement new ad features.

Branded Podcast Advertising
Branded podcasts are created and hosted by the actual brand themselves. In branded podcast advertising, brands discuss topics that intersect with their offerings and the values of their brand audience. Creating a branded podcast helps brands build trust and communication with their clientele in a unique way — just make sure you’re delivering valuable content and not just trying to sell your product or service.

Facts, Figures, and a Look Into the Future

Knowing the most popular podcast genres and where people like to get their podcasts can help you strategize, and ensure your message is reaching your target audience. Let’s glance at the current landscape of podcasting in the United States.

Most popular podcast genres:

  • Comedy
  • News
  • True Crime
  • Sports
  • Health + Fitness

Top podcast directories:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Spotify
  • Web Brower
  • Google Podcasts
  • Apple iTunes

Listener demographics:

  • 50% of all podcast listeners between ages 35-44 listen to podcasts monthly.
  • 48% of women and 43% of men listen to podcasts regularly.
  • More than 50% of podcast listeners make $75,000 a year or more and have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Effectiveness of advertising on podcast platforms:

  • 72% of listeners who have listened to a podcast for 4+ years have purchased a sponsored item.
  • 69% say podcasts help increase awareness of products and services.
  • 81% claim to pay more attention to podcast ads than on social media, television and billboards.

Leveraging Podcast Advertising to Your Advantage

Once you’ve decided if podcast advertising is right for your brand, always start with audience research. Leveraging agency tools like MRI gives you insight into the types of platforms and content your target audience likes most, and can even tell you how likely they’ll engage with or be influenced by certain ads. From there, evaluate different platforms and budget to determine how best to incorporate podcast ads into the media mix.

Next, make sure the podcast you’ve chosen to advertise on is relevant to your brand. Same with the type of advertisement — this is especially important if you choose to use host-read podcast ads. Is the host someone your audience trusts? If the answer is no, you might want to reconsider. Finally, determine the advertising placement and go with what makes sense for your ad and budget considerations.

With podcasting projected to be a nearly $95 billion industry by 2028, and predictions that listeners will increase by roughly 424 million across the globe, advertisers make a smart bet by investing in this highly valued ad space. What’s next? AI-driven podcasting is predicted to pick up by 2050, signaling a future podcasting space that’s engaging, personal and specific to each user. Podcasting is here to stay, and learning how it fits into your brand message will give you the upper hand in the coming years.

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