Is there a future for podcasting in advertising?

Most marketing managers don’t think the world of podcasts, yet. And yes, that's a shame.


Three years ago I decided to dive into the advertising world again. That also meant for me: taking the train every day. During the rush hour. On the busiest train route in Belgium. 

Reading a book? Not an option, because no place to open one. So I had to look for an alternative. Enter: the podcast.

A story in my ears, without having to read and while I was standing with my back pushed against the train door. The first podcast I listened to at the time was Serial.

I binged the first season - 12 episodes of about 50 minutes each - in 3 days. Because that’s how addictive podcasts can be.

In the meantime, we are 3 years later, and I still listen 8 to 10 hours a week. Especially while commuting, but also sometimes when I cook or iron.

Someone tells me all kinds of messages, 8 to 10 hours a week, very close in my ear. A place that almost nobody has access to. And a place where advertisers would be more than happy to be more often. 

So I wondered: is there a future for podcasting in advertising?

Before we dive into the possibilities, first some figures.

The average podcast listener is slightly more often male than female, highly educated and often between 28 and 44 years old.

Podcasts are still unknown territory for many Belgians:Artboard 1 copy

Sources: Digimeter 2018 - IMEC, CIM 2018

Of those who do listen, these are the listening figures:Artboard 1

Sources: Digimeter 2018 - IMEC, CIM 2018

The largest part of users are 25-34 year-olds:

  • 20% listens monthly
  • 14% listens weekly 

It is striking that 27% of 16-24-year-olds has never heard of podcasts. A figure that is clearly higher than among 25-34 year-olds, 35-44 year-olds and 45-54 year-olds.Artboard 1 copy 2

Sources: Digimeter 2018 - IMEC, CIM 2018

Previous CIM figures for 2018 spoke about a penetration rate of podcasts in Flanders of 5.8%, compared to 9.4% in French-speaking Belgium.

Why is someone listening to a podcast?

  • 90% of podcast listeners just want to be entertained 
  • 87% say they also want to learn something

When do you listen to a podcast?

  1. On the road
  2. At home, during household chores
  3. During sports 

Striking: hardly anyone listens during work. The reason for this is that listening to podcasts requires some form of attention.

How many hours a week do you listen to a podcast?

  • 36% listen 1-3 hours / week
  • 32% listen 4-6 hours / week

An ideal podcast length does not exist, the length depends on the subject. Yet 40 minutes is often taken as the norm, because that is the average commute time.

In summary, the average podcast listener:

  • is 24-34 years old
  • is highly educated
  • listens 1-3 hours a week
  • listens about 40 minutes per listening session
  • prefers to listen to non-fiction podcasts.

This persona is very important to keep in mind if you want to check whether podcasts are also a medium that has added value for advertisers, and therefore for our business. 

Podcasts use as an advertising medium 2 ways:

  • by sponsoring podcasts through advertisements in the podcast itself
  • fully dedicate a podcast to a brand, the so called branded podcasts


Advertising on podcasts is very different from traditional radio advertising. 

For example, podcast advertising is dynamic: that means that you can target your ad in a targeted way and make adjustments until you reach your goal. Via dynamic ads you can also advertise in old podcast episodes. And retargeting after you've already heard a certain ad in a podcast is also possible.

Roughly, you can subdivide podcast advertising into 3 types, which we also know from visual media such as YouTube:

  • Preroll: an advertisement before the podcast starts of about thirty seconds Prerolls are most commonly used in podcast advertising.
  • Midroll: an advertisement during the podcast of approximately one minute. New here are the documentary ads: an advertisement in which the presenter briefly calls a satisfied customer or the advertiser himself.
  • Postroll: this is an additional advertisement that repeats the pre-roll or mid-roll very briefly. Postrolls come at the end, usually a repeat of the pre or midroll, which the sponsor of the program thanks again.

Often ads are host read: it is the podcast's hosts who record the ads. And the subject of the ad is almost always an extension of the subject of the podcast. As a result, it sounds much less like 'real' advertising, and you can see that in the results of the Dutch podcast platform Dag & Nacht Media:

Per 1000 impressions (CPM) the cost for podcast advertising is around 50 euros. That's a substantial budget. And yet, advertisers are often very satisfied with podcast advertising.

And that has a lot to do with these figures:

  • 90% remembers the advertiser's name when they heard a podcast ad
  • 83% has a positive feeling about the advertiser
  • 45% probably visits the website
  • 42% considers the service or the product
90% remembers the advertiser's name when they heard a podcast ad

Spotify will use its data to target podcast ads

Spotify is going to start using its large amounts of user data to run targeted ads inside its own podcasts. Targeted advertising is new for podcasts, and this news sets Spotify up to potentially go beyond its own shows to start placing ads in other networks’ content. If it catches on, Spotify could become a full-blown podcast ad network.

Often a podcast has brand preference as a goal: the consumer chooses your brand over other brands, and that translates into sales. 

KLM, a Dutch airline company, made a podcast in which people tell stories about 'journeys that changed people's lives forever'.

Lyft is a competitor of Uber in America. The company has 1.4 million people who offer journeys to more than 23 million passengers. And all those people have stories. Stories of which there are many ideal for casting in a podcast.

While traditional media are stagnating or falling back, there is certainly still room for growth in podcasts in Belgium. 

Most marketing managers don’t think the world of podcasts, yet. And that is a bit of a shame.

Because recent research by the BBC has shown that ad avoiders (people who skip TV ads) are 22% more emotionally involved with a brand and also remember the brand much better compared to TV advertising.

"Are podcasts useful as an advertising medium for my product?"
That’s a big yes for you if:

  1. You want a unique bond with your target group, and want to increase the brand preference.
    Podcasts are mainly played via headphones and earphones, which means that your audiences listens very concentrated. The listener has a subscription and often returns to his favorite podcasts. And you can listen to podcasts on demand, wherever and whenever you want. This way you reach your target group in a new, creative way in their customer journey and you increase brand preference.
  2. You have an extensive distribution network to distribute your podcast.
  3. Your target audience listens to podcasts. Duh.
  4. As a company, you want to prove that you are innovative. For now, the podcasts are still in the corner of the early adopters.
  5. You realize that making podcasts does not have to be expensive.

    But brands don't connect their name and brand values ​​to a crappy branded podcast. Everything depends on what you want to do and how much media space you want in a podcast.

Wondering if a podcast is an innovative idea for your brand? 

Then be sure to contact us and we will look into what is possible together.

Written by Debby De Ridder, Head of Copy
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