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Seven Takeaways from the IAB and PwC Annual Podcast Advertising Revenue Report


Last week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) released its annual podcast advertising revenue report. Beyond the fantastic growth (ad revenues closing in on $1B) and COVID-related headlines, there were some interesting takeaways. 

With the rise in technology offerings, targeting overlays, data conversations, and relentless attribution discussion, what we saw in last week’s report was a validation that the ad world and podcast creators are collaborating for the greater good of the medium. 

Here are seven additional takeaways from the podcast adverstising report: 

1. Host-Read Ads Increased YoY From 63% to 66%

For context, the 2017 to 2018 trend showed a decrease from 67% to 63% so this is a positive signal that brands (and podcasters) are using the medium for what it can deliver that many other media channels cannot – which is to leverage the affinity that hosts have with their audiences and their skill as storytellers to authentically integrate brand messages into their content. This drives higher engagement with ads, better ROAS and a better listening experience for all.

2. Baked in Ads are up slightly (from 51% to 52%) 

Again, this is coming off the back of 13% decline from 2017 to 2018 so we see it as a very big deal that baked in reads are even up YoY. This data point coincides with the increase in performance advertising as well as with the rise in news programming as the limited “shelf life” for that content does not always warrant the higher costs associated with ad serving technology.

3. Spot Lengths are Up. :15 spots fell by 35% and :61-:90 Spots Increased by 300%

Another solid signal that advertisers are not simply recycling their standard short length audio ads into podcasting. Rather, this shift to longer ads shows advertisers are using the medium to go beyond communicating their value props and are leaning into their purpose, all while building a narrative with a desirable demographic who are paying attention.  

4. Annual Bookings Nearly Doubled, Jumping from 24% in 2018 to 47% in 2019

This is a significant trend that can be not only attributed to the growth and desirability of the medium, but it also speaks to how buyers are realizing the wisdom in locking down long-term relationships with hosts to secure inventory that is in high demand. Not to mention the efficiency of locking in your rate/CPM while podcast audiences are generally increasing over time.   

5. Direct Response Ads Increased from 52% to 54%

As Veritone One has long held, whether you are branding or doing DR, all advertisers desire a return on advertising investment. This trend is consistent with that theme.  

6. “Series Ownerships” Up 5X

I recently read that more podcasts have been created so far in 2020 than in the entire year of 2019. While some of this might be because of sheer boredom during stay at home orders, it speaks more to the exponential growth in amazing content that we’re seeing. Personally, I love to see the increase here because this tactic of “owning” or “underwriting” a series is very unique to the channel and it shows that brands are breaking their molds and seeing the benefits of aligning with quality content to help them cut through advertising clutter… all while supporting podcast creators. 

7. Mission-Based / Cause-Related Messaging Increased 75% During COVID-19

Tailoring your podcast messaging to communicate something deeper about your company (especially in times of crisis) with an engaged and cerebral audience will outlast any short-term CPA or ROAS metric–if you can afford to do it–it makes a lot of sense. Read more thoughts on messaging during crisis .   


Podcasting continues to gain momentum and attention from serious brands, advertisers and celebrities. As more money and attention floods into the space, the future is only untapped potential. In the words of legendary Edison podcast researcher Tom Webster last fall, the future of podcasting is bright so, “don’t screw it up.”  

Well… from this most recent report, it appears we’re not, Tom.


Further Reading

Creating the Right Message During COVID-19
Takeaways From the IAB Podcast Upfront 2020
10 Advertising Myths About Streaming Audio Debunked
Radio Advertising Measurement: CPP or CPM
COVID-19 Impact on Podcast Listening – Measurement Company Analysis

Photo by Jonathan Farber on Unsplash