Advercasting: The Effectiveness of Podcast Ads




Brooks, Mary E.

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WTAMU Cornette Library


Podcast listeners are on the upswing as our podcast series options. Today’s American listeners equal approximately 90 million monthly listeners (Midroll, 2019) who can choose amongst 750,000 shows and more than 30 million episodes (Winn, 2019). One reason for the large variety of podcast content is due to the lack of broadcasting regulations that are not mandated for podcasters (Henning, 2017). Moreover, the majority of podcasts are free of cost, portable, convenient, entertaining, educational, and have a storytelling quality that listeners crave. Henning (2017) states that podcasts also serve as a new business model for various organizations due to the prevalency of advertisers clamoring to get their messages into podcasts. This growth in podcast popularity has numerous implications for advertisers. Midroll conducted a survey about podcast listening habits where more than 150,000 active podcast listeners answered questions about their advertising preferences, regardless of medium. Results indicated that more than 50% of survey participants either sometimes or always avoided ads on television, billboards, radio and digital yet, 81% of participants revealed they are sometimes or always attentive to podcast ads (Midroll, 2019). What’s more, is that a majority of these listeners purchased a product due to an ad they heard on a favorite podcast. This study aims to extend the research on podcasting and advertising by exploring how advertising is perceived by listeners in terms of how they interact with ads, their advertising preferences, and their feelings of relatability between ad messaging and specific podcast content. Thus, the following research questions are posed: RQ1: How do listeners respond to advertising in podcasts (skip, watch, support, call-to-action variables)? RQ2: Where do listeners prefer advertising in a podcast (beginning, middle, end)? RQ3: What type of promotional messages do podcast listeners prefer? RQ4: How do listeners feel about advertising message congruency within podcast content? Previous research has been conducted about podcasts with advertising as a key ingredient in the articles, including advantages of podcast advertising for brands (Brands, 2005), more active listeners who are more likely to support brands that engage in podcast advertising (McClung & Johnson, 2010), and how independent podcasters use advertising for financial gain (Markman & Sawyer, 2014). This study differs in that its goal is to unveil the effectiveness of podcast advertising. While advertising industry publications, like AdWeek and AdAge, overflow with podcast advertising musings, this article will add to the academic literature within advertising and broadcasting, which is just beginning to expand.


In order to address the above-mentioned research questions, a Qualtrics survey was administered online to undergraduate students between the ages of 18-30. This study is specifically interested in examining podcast behavior and attitudes from young adults. College students have grown up with digital technology and, as such, are an important user segment for new media technology research. Survey questions measured demographics, attitudes and motivations for podcast usage, adoption behaviors, perceived social norms, and advertising preferences.



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