How Podcast Ads Improve Brand Lift
Welcome to The Yard, a blog by Backyard Media that explains the podcast industry and podcast advertising.
Sponsors will sometimes ask what effect podcast advertising really has on listeners, both in their awareness of products and perceptions of sponsors. In the end, the point of podcast advertising campaigns is to increase product sales and improve brand awareness and brand sentiment. The podcast industry has seen new research in the past year about the impact podcast ad campaigns have on listeners' brand recall and other important metrics. Edison Research, the firm behind many studies looking at the podcast industry, conducted three studies in 2016 and released its findings as a comprehensive Brand Lift study. Here are the most valuable points for advertisers:
1. Listeners say podcast ads make them more likely to purchase a product
The Brand Lift study first asked respondents to self-report how they thought podcast advertisements affected their buying habit (all study respondents were regular podcast listeners recruited through various podcast show call-outs). A full 75% of respondents self-reported that they felt podcast ads had a positive impact on their tendency to buy the product in question. Even before getting to the survey's awareness metrics, we can see an alignment between this self-reported sentiment and what we know about the relationship between the podcast's host, the podcast's content, and the podcast's ads. For the listener, the three feel integrated into the show as a cohesive whole. Because of this seamless integration, listeners aren't bothered by the ad's presence and are more likely to follow the host's recommendation.
What this means for podcast advertisers: Listeners themselves believe that hearing a product ad on a podcast makes them more likely to purchase the product. This is one sign that advertising on podcasts is a smart move for advertisers looking to improve consumers' associations with their brand and to improve overall sales.
2. Podcast ads massively increase product awareness, no matter the type of product
The Brand Lift researchers structured the surveys so that they could gauge respondents' product recall before and after hearing 4 to 6 weeks of sustained ad campaigns of various products. When it came to awareness of a product (in this case, a brand of marinade), listeners' unaided awareness of the product jumped from 6% to 62% after 4-6 weeks of hearing podcast ads.
This enormous increase in awareness tells us two things: first, it shows the power of sustained campaigns over multiple episodes - this study conducted ad campaigns 4-6 weeks long, which translates to as many episodes for a podcast that has an average posting schedule. Second, it tells us that listeners actually do consume ads that are integrated into a show instead of skipping them. If they were skipping said ads, unaided product awareness would be nearly flat.
Another important note was that the brand in question was a "challenger" brand and relatively unknown to the audience before the study. The researchers compared awareness of this product to a leading product in that same marinade category. The increase in brand awareness was even more notable given this comparison, as respondents remembered the challenger product more often (6% to 62%) while remembering the category-leading brand less (from 54% before to 39% after).
The Edison Research group of studies conducted this same test across a number of product categories, from automotive products to lawn and garden to financial services, and found that the effect for the advertised brand was the same: a noticeable increase in unaided brand awareness concurrent with a flat or declining awareness of control brands in those same categories.
Some prospective sponsors might feel that only "digital-native" products - website builders, online-only clothing retailers, investment services - work with podcast ads, but these studies show that any product can benefit from podcasts' engaged listening audiences.
What this means for podcast advertisers: Unaided product awareness is important for brands, particularly for brands aiming to capture a larger market share. Podcast ads are also a great way to increase awareness of a product, because ads in a sustained marketing campaign stick in podcast listeners' minds. Furthermore, the study shows that podcast advertising is agnostic when it comes to the product category - any type of product can benefit.
3. Podcast ads improve listeners' brand perceptions and messaging awareness
The researchers found that podcast ads did not just lead to higher brand awareness, but that listeners' feelings toward those brands also showed noticeable improvement. In the study's example, an automotive product's "very favorable" brand perception nearly doubled, from 18% to 34%. Again, this likely goes back to listeners' feelings about the podcasts they listen to. When listeners enjoy a podcast and feel they have a connection with the podcast host, a host-read ad can transfer those feelings to the product as well.
Podcast listeners also pay attention to a campaign's messaging. When researchers asked whether respondents were aware of a particular product benefit mentioned during the 4-6 week ad campaigns, 85% of respondents said they were aware after having heard the ad campaign, compared to just 53% who had been aware of it before.
This tells us that podcast listeners, who often listen to every episode of a podcast show in their entirety, understand and process a sponsor's specific messaging. This can be very useful for sponsors that want to tightly control product messaging as part of a campaign. And when a host reads a sponsor script for a podcast ad, listeners absorb the messaging as they would the podcast's regular content.
Finally, the study compared awareness of current promotions for a leading restaurant chain. In this instance, the study compared awareness of a promotion advertised on podcasts against promotions of the same restaurant chain that did not appear on podcasts (the control promotions). While the chain's control promotions showed almost no movement of awareness among respondents after the 4-6 week period (18% to 21% and 54% to 57%, respectively), the promotion that appeared in a podcast ad campaign jumped from 33% to 58% in respondent awareness.
This again shows that podcast listeners process what they hear during podcast ads. It also tells us that podcast advertising can work for limited-run product promotions, as well as marketing for upcoming events and open job postings.
What this means for podcast advertisers: Podcast ads can drive important campaign messaging and improve consumers' sentiments of the brand. Sponsors can also use podcast advertising to make audiences aware of time-specific messages, like "limited time only" promotions.
And that's what advertisers should know about the effects of podcast ads on brand lift and brand messaging! As new research comes in about the effectiveness of podcast advertising, we will be sure to give our take on what prospective and current podcast sponsors need to be aware of. You can see the full Edison Research/PodcastOne Brand Lift study here.
Want to learn more about advertising with Backyard Media to improve brand awareness and sentiment among podcast audiences? Get in touch with us here.
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