Podcast advertising raises positive perceptions of brands and encourages listeners to spend, achieving greater impact than many other formats, according to a nationwide study commissioned by Guardian News & Media.
When looking at the effectiveness of ads, independent research company Tapestry found that podcast advertising commanded the highest levels of attention of any media channel. The study found 65% of listeners paid attention to podcast adverts, compared with 39% for ads on TV and 38% for ads on the radio.
A higher level of attention translated into a greater likelihood that listeners would buy the product or service being advertised, with 51% of weekly users of each channel saying podcast ads made them want to buy something from a brand, versus 38% for radio.
The Guardian publishes several podcast shows including Comfort Eating with Grace Dent, Today in Focus, Football Weekly and Audio Long Read. Over half (51%) of respondents surveyed said hearing about a brand on a Guardian podcast improved their opinion of it and made them want to find out more about it.
Ocado, which sponsors podcast show Comfort Eating, experienced an uplift in new customers after advertising with The Guardian, with 25% saying they had listened to the podcast. The grocery delivery brand also saw a 62% increase in positive customer brand perception and 89% new unique visitors to its website.
Using podcasts in combination with other media increased the overall effectiveness of an ad campaign. The research found that those saying "it tells me something new about the brand" increased by 34% when podcasts were run alongside a radio campaign. Nearly half (47%) of those exposed to branded content across other channels said "it improves my opinion of the brand". When podcast ads were also part of the campaign, this metric jumped to 64%.
Combined with the visual cues of digital display, podcasts make campaigns more memorable and trustworthy, according to the research. Trust levels increased from 45% to 63% when podcasts were added to the media mix.
When examining audiences, the research found podcasts are now reaching younger and more diverse audiences, many of whom are parents. Over a quarter (26%) of weekly podcast listeners are from non-white backgrounds and the average listener age is now 37 years old, compared with the 40-year-olds found in The Guardian's 2020 research.
Podcasts have recently grown in popularity, with 41% of podcast listeners saying they are listening to podcasts more than they were 12 months ago, increasing to 53% specifically for The Guardian's audience.
Imogen Fox, director of advertising at Guardian News & Media, said: "As the leaders in podcasting, The Guardian set out to produce advertising insights that would help our customers make better planning and buying decisions. This study gives us a deeper understanding of the relative effectiveness of podcast advertising versus other media formats, like radio. It's really interesting to see the boost that podcasts provide when the various formats are working together.
"The fact that podcasts are commanding higher levels of attention and increase the effectiveness of other formats means they should be an essential addition to any media plan."
Claire Blunt, chief advertising officer and chief executive, international, Guardian News & Media, added: "Guardian podcasts have been seeing massive growth, with global monthly listens to Guardian podcasts increasing by over 60% since the start of the pandemic.
"The Guardian offers a unique combination of quality, trust and a devoted listening audience that we have built a real connection with. All of this means that we can deliver impressive results for brands."