Podcast popularity fuels higher planned adspend in digital audio

Agencies are embracing digital audio more than brands.

Podcasts: now attract 7.6 million listeners every week
Podcasts: now attract 7.6 million listeners every week

"Podcasts are now well at the front of advertisers' minds," Global’s director of commercial digital said after new research found that three-quarters of advertisers will spend more on the medium.

Dax, Global’s digital audio exchange, found that 85% of advertisers will increase investment in digital audio next year, with 75% planning to up their spend on podcasts specifically.

The Rise of Digital Audio Advertising report surveyed brands and media agencies’ views on digital media in 2019 and beyond. 

While digital media is viewed favourably amid listening figures growing consistently across formats, ad agencies appear to be more favourable than their clients.

While 86% of ad agency executives see digital audio as a key part of media strategies, this drops to 66% for brands.

Ollie Deane, Global’s director of commercial digital, told Campaign that he thought FMCG brands "under-index" when it comes to buying digital audio, although the survey does not provide sectoral analysis on this specifically.

He explained that podcasts in particular are a key factor for changes in the way audio is planned and bought. In the UK, 7.6 million people listen to podcasts every week, up 25% year on year, the study showed.

"[Podcasts] are where brands want to be, because they sit next to quality content in a good, safe environment – hosts themselves can deliver ads in a personal and immersive environment," Deane said.

"We mainly sell through audience, but there is the opportunity to sell by vertical – like health or sport, for example." 

However, just over half (53%) of those surveyed think streaming audio allows them to target the right person at the right time.

Dean added that he was "surprised" that the research showed there is still much to do to educate the industry on how digital audio can be measured. Dax has a measurement tool, Listener ID, that gives information about how audiences respond to a brand’s call to action on digital audio.

As well as podcast growth and brands’ spend going up, Dax also sees the growth in smart speakers and increases in programmatic buying as factors that will drive further growth in digital audio.

Michael Williamson, AV planning director at Manning Gottlieb OMD, was quoted in the report as saying: "In the past, advertisers have asked 'What does digital audio bring? What’s the benefit of using that over traditional 100% linear radio?' But now acceptance levels have definitely increased as the market matures and delivers proof points back to brands – meaning digital audio is a regular part of our audio plans."

Research group MTM surveyed 215 senior and mid-level executives at leading media agencies and UK brand owners for the study. It is the second time Dax has commissioned the research, but exact comparisons of year-on-year trends are not available due to the questions being asked differently.