Why Are Advertisers Turning To Podcasts?


As Radio Ink reported last week, the IAB’s recently released annual podcast revenue study found that podcast ad revenue grew 86% in 2017, hitting $314M. Marshall Williams is the CEO of Ad Results Media, an advertising agency that specializes in podcast advertising. Clients include Blue Apron, Ziprecruiter and Harry’s.

Radio Ink reached out to Williams to get his perspective on why advertisers are now turning to podcasts as a way to grow their business. Here’s that interview.

Radio Ink: What are you seeing in terms of podcasting growth? 
Marshall Williams: In the Podcast Consumer 2018 Report by Edison Research and Triton Digital, they reported that monthly podcast listening jumped roughly 8% from 2017. We expect that trend to continue if not grow based on positive trends in podcast discoverability and content production.

Radio Ink: How are you able to gauge the growth/listenership? 
Marshall Williams: It’s a bit difficult to gauge explicit growth, but we do believe that the trajectory will continue, if not accelerate, because the friction of discoverability is slowly being removed. With Google, Pandora, and Spotify now making concerted efforts to invest in the market, we believe a lot of the barriers to entry from a listener perspective will be removed. Additionally, as listenership grows the demand, more and better content will need to be satiated. We will continue to see a positive evolution in production, new content, and talent over the next few years. A great example is Spotify’s new partnership with Amy Schumer.

Radio Ink: What categories are performing the best for advertisers? 
Marshall Williams: Every quarter Ad Results Media takes a cohort of our 10 largest clients and evaluates the top 30 influencers across national and local terrestrial radio, satellite radio, and podcasts. We like to use just the top 30 performers because they represent 40%+ of all sales. While there is a very deep tail on both podcasts and local terrestrial, we believe these trends still give a good general idea of where/how the market is moving. In our latest assessment, the show formats of Comedy and Sports continued to be at the top.

Radio Ink: What have you found to be the best length of a commercial on a podcast for advertisers? 
Marshall Williams: When it comes to podcast advertising, the longer the spot the better. This is truly unique to this medium. Although there are set guidelines (30-second spots, 60-second spots, etc.), it’s up to the host as to how they would like to deliver the message. There have been numerous instances where the host is an enthusiast of the product or service and will go into a three-minute monologue about their experience and how great it was. They become evangelists of sorts. When this happens, it’s gold.

Radio Ink: What are your thoughts on the projected podcasting revenue growth?
Marshall Williams: The latest Podcast Revenue Study projects podcast advertising revenue to grow to $659M in 2020. We believe there is upside in this figure based on recent annual growth trends.

Radio Ink: Are major advertisers jumping in? Can you name a few for us? 
Marshall Williams: Yes. Major brands like Delta, Progressive, Gillette, Burger King, and Budweiser have been jumping in because we believe listenership is reaching a critical mass. It’s a great way to reach very valuable audiences and it’s a great way to align content and respected ambassadors with their brand.

Radio Ink: How do advertisers really know a) their commercials are being heard and b) they are getting results? 
Marshall Williams: Historically, a majority of the advertisers have been direct-to-consumer focused and have implemented savvy measuring tactics to make sure this channel is delivering relative to their economics goal. The reason we see the continued scale in the advertising space is because it’s working from a cost-per-customer-acquisition perspective.

Radio Ink: What will this space look for in five years?
Marshall Williams: We believe it will be a multi-billion dollar advertising marketplace and a preferred way for people to digest content.

On July 26, at Podcast Movement in Philadelphia, Williams will be speaking on the “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” panel alongside other big names in podcasting like National Public Media’s COO, Bryan Moffett.


  1. Just to clarify, when I wrote above that there is no system provided by the podcast hosts, I’m referring to the podcast hosting services and not each individual podcast host or producer. If I had a MUSIC podcast and wanted the artists and labels within my podcast to be identified, reported and paid by reporting the artists, songs, albums and label info, these podcast hosting services have no systems in place to do so and yet they still offer the content to the big players who also have no systems in place to report or ID the music and also take no responsibility to do so. Artists, record labels, performance rights societies (and paying radio stations for that matter) should all be up in arms about this!

  2. Yea and here’s the kicker. MUSIC podcasts generally don’t pay a penny in digital or performance royalties. Yep, you read me correctly. Go create a podcast of an hour or more of music content – the same songs you play on your radio station or places like Pandora or Sirius/XM.

    Then, post your podcast on one of the growing number of podcast hosts for them, who charge ridiculously low costs per year and then deliver your podcast RSS feed to Apple, Google, Spotify and many others and they (Apple and Google especially) rebroadcast them to potentially millions of listeners and not only do the artists not get a penny, but other than back announcing, if it happens to exist within the podcast, there is no system provided by the podcast hosts of listing or reporting the song titles, artists and labels. Pretty crazy and illegal, eh? SoundExchange is a joke for sitting back and allowing this blatant illegal behavior, especially while at the same time supporting an increase in fees to radio and digital broadcasters who do pay the digital broadcast and performance royalties.


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