January 19, 2021
By Jared Rodecker, VP, Advanced Analytic Solutions, RAPP SF
Podcasts are having a moment. Still. The medium blew up alongside Apple's rise to digital dominance two decades ago but appeared destined to be an abbreviated phase. That momentary dip in popularity did happen, but podcasts quickly reclaimed favor and became an even bigger phenomenon in recent years. These days, from "My Favorite Murder" to "American Hysteria" and everything in between, it seems like everyone and their mother publishes one.
The question for brands, now, is why advertising on a podcast might be a worthwhile investment. As with most marketing endeavors, the answer depends on your target audience. It can be a savvy move, but choosing which podcasts to be on is best left to your strategy team (to align podcast with your target audience) and your media team (to balance with a realistic view of the cost of different podcasts).
Your strategy team has a key role to play in mapping out the interests of the brand's target audience and finding appropriate podcasts whose content aligns with that target audience and the brand's mission. Once they have identified a roster of options, your media team can start negotiating and pricing out the relative cost of each option to find the right balance of strategic value and cost-efficiency.
The challenge of measuring podcast advertising performance is similar to the challenges in measuring the impact of traditional radio. The user experience is passive and doesn’t lend itself to automated tracking to the same extent as other common digital channels. There are opportunities to build custom landing pages on the brand site tied to specific podcasts, but this still will leave a lot of impact unmeasured: Many consumers influenced by the podcast will search for or visit the general brand site directly without visiting the podcast landing page, which typically won't be tracked completely.
The big benefit of podcast advertising is brand building — and that is always tricky to measure. Brands can best position themselves for success as they decide to embark on podcast opportunities by focusing on the upper-funnel metrics that can be measured, such as reach and listen-through rate.
When determining how to measure podcast performance, brands should consider third-party panel studies where an outside party convenes an opt-in panel who allows all their behavior to be tracked. These are the gold standard and costly given the need compensate participants and track all of their individual behaviors, though sometimes cost concerns can be mitigated by the fact that a fully tracked panel will tell you about all media consumption (so you have the bonus information on other channels beyond just podcast).
Brands should also consider a brand lift study. This is a survey asking whether people have heard of your brand, whether they like your brand, whether they’d consider buying your brand, etc. This study also asks if the respondent ever recalls hearing your podcast ad. These studies are typically performed by third parties and have some associated cost, but they are much less costly than a fully tracked panel.
At RAPP, we are currently supporting two clients who have launched podcast advertising within the past six months. Once their podcast channels have been active at substantial spend levels for six to 12 months, we can formally incorporate it into our Marketing Mix Model solution (activated for both clients) to get a read on how much the MMM would budget toward podcasting relative to other media channels.
In the meantime, we are partnering with their media agencies to ensure a cohesive upper-funnel performance report on impressions and listen-through metrics is in place to track reach and user engagement during the channel's infancy. We are also connecting our clients with 3P measurement providers so that they are aware of these options that can provide tremendous value (though at some cost).
Still unsure if podcasts are right for you? Contact RAPP today to learn how we can find the best marketing fits for your particular brand needs.