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Retrospective Insights: U.S. Podcast Advertising Trends of 2021-2022

Deep-dive into the evolution and impact of U.S. podcast advertising in 2021 and 2022, based on authoritative studies. Explore the nuances of genre revenue distribution, listener ad preferences, leading advertisers, and the efficacy of podcast ads.

Published onJune 19, 2023
Written byEzgi Arslantay
Timing6 min read

The world of podcasting has evolved dramatically over the past few years, creating a rich, fertile ground for advertisers to reach dedicated and engaged audiences. With the soaring popularity of this medium, the landscape of podcast advertising has experienced significant growth and evolution, shaping a new pathway for brands to connect with their potential consumers.

In this retrospective exploration, we delve into the intricacies and trends of U.S. podcast advertising during 2021 and 2022, a pivotal period that saw notable shifts in this domain. Drawing insights from authoritative studies published by industry leaders like PwC, Cumulus Media, Signal Hill Insights, Magellan AI, and Morning Consult, we aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of this dynamic landscape.

Join us as we journey back to explore the distribution of advertising revenue across different podcast genres, understand listener preferences towards various ad types, identify the frontrunners in podcast advertising, and quantify the tangible impact of podcast ads on consumer behavior. By looking back, we can understand how podcast advertising has evolved and where it is heading, offering valuable insights to navigate the future of this promising advertising avenue.

a podcaster man sitting at a table with a laptop
a podcaster man sitting at a table with a laptop

Unpacking the Shifts in Advertising Revenue by Genre

An insightful lens to scrutinize the appeal of various podcast genres, both to advertisers and listeners, is the distribution of advertising revenue. According to the U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study conducted by PwC and published by Variety in May 2023, distinctive shifts in genre preferences were observable between 2021 and 2022.

In 2022, sports podcasts emerged as the favorite among advertisers, accounting for 15% of podcast advertising revenue in the U.S. The genres of society & culture and comedy followed closely, each representing 14% of the revenue pie. Interestingly, the news genre, which had topped the charts in 2021, slipped to the fourth position the following year.

The dynamism in genre preference signals an evolution in listener demographics and habits, making it crucial for advertisers to stay attuned to these trends. For instance, brands targeting younger, more active audiences may find a lucrative advertising niche within sports and comedy podcasts.

Distribution of podcast advertising revenue in the United States in 2021 and 2022, by podcast genre (in %)
Society & culture1214
True crime107
TV & film43
Health & fitness32

Dissecting Listener Preferences: The Most Favored Ad Types

The effectiveness of any advertisement hinges on its reception by the target audience. In the world of podcast advertising, one particular type seems to resonate more effectively with listeners. As per the Podcast Download - Fall 2022 Report published by Cumulus Media in December 2022, which was sourced from a survey carried out in partnership with Signal Hill Insights, 48% of listeners expressed a preference for ads voiced by the show's host. This preference isn't just academic – these host-voiced ads account for a lion's share (55%) of podcast ad revenue in the U.S.

The strong preference for host-voiced ads highlights the value listeners place on the personal connection they form with podcast hosts. The authenticity and familiarity of the host's voice could make these ads more relatable and influential.

Preferred podcast ad types in the United States as of October 2022 (in %)
An ad voiced by the show's host48
An ad that sounds like one heard on AM/FM radio19
An ad read by someone other than the host16
Don't know/no opinion17
grey round fan on grey metal stand
grey round fan on grey metal stand

Spotlight on the Big Players: The Top Podcast Advertisers

A peek at the heavy-hitters in podcast advertising provides valuable insights into the scale and competition within this space. As per data from Magellan AI, published by Inside Radio in February 2023, BetterHelp's parent company, Teladoc Health, was the highest spender on podcast advertising in the U.S in the 4th quarter of 2022, with an outlay of $26 million. Amazon wasn't far behind, spending $17.5 million., was the highest spender on podcast advertising in the U.S in the 4th quarter of 2022, with an outlay of $26 million. Amazon wasn't far behind, spending $17.5 million. Overall, the total podcast ad spend in the U.S. in 2022 was estimated at an impressive $1.73 billion, with projections indicating that this figure could soar past $2.5 billion by 2024.

The generous ad spends from industry giants like Teladoc Health and Amazon signify podcast advertising's robust return on investment. With predictions of growth in ad spending, this channel offers an attractive platform for brands to tap into dedicated listener bases.

Leading podcast advertisers in the United States in 4th quarter 2022, by ad spend (in million U.S. dollars)
Teladoc Health (BetterHelp)26
FlutterEntertainment (FanDuel)7,50
Athletic Greens7
a close up of a microphone on a stand
a close up of a microphone on a stand

Tracking Ad Effectiveness: Podcast Ads and Consumer Behavior

Beyond the surface-level metrics, a deeper question persists: are podcast ads truly effective in driving purchasing behavior? The answer seems to be a resounding 'yes.' According to the National Tracking Poll conducted by Morning Consult and published by Insider Intelligence in April 2023, a significant proportion of podcast listeners confirmed they had made a purchase due to a podcast ad. The figures are particularly promising among younger demographics, with 42% of Millennials and 33% of Gen X listeners having bought a product or service due to a podcast ad.

These stats underscore the real-world impact and effectiveness of podcast ads. Brands aiming to connect with younger generations might find podcast advertising a particularly fruitful avenue.

The robust growth and efficacy of podcast advertising in the U.S. between 2021 and 2022 underscores the medium's ever-increasing relevance in the digital marketing landscape. Be it the shifts in genre preferences, listener affinity for host-voiced ads, heavy ad spends from industry behemoths, or the tangible impact on consumer behavior - the strides made by podcast advertising are nothing short of remarkable. With projected growth trends, the industry is set to be an influential player in shaping the future of advertising.

Share of podcast listeners who have purchased a product or service because of a podcast ad in the United States as of October 2022, by generation (in %)
Gen Z (1997-2012)28
Millennials (1981-1996)42
Gen X (1965-1980)33
Baby boomers (1946-1964)21
woman in white shirt standing in front of microphone
woman in white shirt standing in front of microphone

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Q1: What were the leading genres for podcast advertising revenue in the U.S. in 2022?

Sports, society & culture, and comedy were the leading genres for podcast advertising revenue, as per the U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study by PwC.

Q2: What type of podcast ad do listeners prefer?

48% of listeners favored ads voiced by the podcast's host, according to a 2022 survey by Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights.

Q3:Who was the top podcast advertiser in the U.S. in the 4th quarter of 2022?

BetterHelp's parent company, Teladoc Health, led the U.S. in podcast ad spend with an investment of $26 million, as per data from Magellan AI

Q4: What is the projected podcast ad spending for 2024?

Podcast ad spending in the U.S. is projected to surpass $2.5 billion by 2024, according to Magellan AI

Q5: How effective are podcast ads at driving purchases?

42% of Millennials and 33% of Gen X listeners had made a purchase due to a podcast ad, as per the 2022 National Tracking Poll by Morning Consult.

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Ezgi Arslantay

Co-Founder & CEO at fucimo

Ezgi Arslantay is a marketing professional and entrepreneur with a diverse background in brand strategy, marketing management, and business development. As the co-founder of fucimo, she assists SMBs and startups to reach and buy media, and enables creators and media networks to increase monetization through innovative technology. Before co-founding fucimo, Ezgi navigated diverse roles in both rising startups and household brands. Follow her fucimo blog for the freshest insights as she explores the intersection of technology, advertising, and business.

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