Funny Business: Do Podcast Audiences Get The Ads They Need?


As the podcast advertising space narrows, are the medium’s ads hitting their mark? Not as well as they could be, according to Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights’ Fall 2023 Podcast Download. The study found underutilized potential for one specific ad genre.

A disparity was found between listener interests – favoring amusing ads – and the more common feature/benefit-focused ads they typically encounter. 71% of audiences said they would be “very” or “somewhat” interested in podcast ads that are funny or entertaining. The reality is only 68% of podcast ads are remembered for being “frequently” or “occasionally” funny.

Meanwhile podcast ads that only communicate features or benefits of a product or service are the most remembered at 78%, while the desire to hear those commercials or live-reads sits at 61%. Interestingly, there is the least interest in ads that tell an emotional story.

PD ads creative opportunity
(Cumulus Media/Westwood One Audio Active Group)

As for recent shifts in advertising trends, the Podcast Download brand marketers now surpassing direct response advertisers in the podcast space. With marketers moving toward strategies aimed at creating long-term demand and establishing memorable brand connections, advertising effectiveness expert James Hurman wrote for WARC, “Converting Existing Demand is most efficiently achieved by tightly targeting those ‘in the market’ with rational messaging of product and price information that persuades them to choose our product over others.”

“Creating Future Demand is most efficiently achieved by targeting very broad audiences of ‘all category buyers’ with emotional messaging that is designed to stand out and be enjoyed by consumers, creating positive memories of our brand that will influence future purchase decisions.”

Furthermore, the research shows a stable consumer tolerance for ad volume over time, despite the influx of ads in recent years. The data reveals a preference for host-read ads, with listeners favoring a personal touch and willingness to support their favorite podcasts through ad engagement.


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