Why brands shouldn’t sleep on podcasts

In recent months, The Guardian has reported that 41% of podcast listeners are listening to podcasts more than they were 12 months ago. Despite this large rise in consumption, brands still seem to be prioritising traditional media over this engaging and lucrative medium for their campaigns. Let’s unpack why exactly brands should put more focus into podcast advertising. 

Podcasts can reach mass audiences

According to MediaTel’s Connected Consumer Survey, podcast-loving Brits consumed almost 60 million hours a week of the audio form in 2021. This was a 50% increase since 2020, and a massive 1600% increase since 2015.

Furthermore, this spike in listenership numbers is only set to continue. Last year, eMarketer estimated there to be 14.6 million listeners in the UK – a 197% increase from 2020. This year, they expect this number to further rise by 2.9m listeners, smashing pre-pandemic forecasts by 23%. What’s encouraging is that while audiences for other channels – including radio – plateau, podcast listeners are growing quarter on quarter. 

The audience attracted to podcasts is also diverse. Research by Mediatel’s Connected Screens reveals that UK podcast users tend to be younger, but that the audience growth we’re seeing applies to all categories; there’s evidence of year-on-year growth for older audiences too.

It’s obvious that there’s an opportunity for more growth among all age groups. With over two million podcasts and almost 50 million episodes available, the choice of genres is vast: anyone can find a podcast of interest. The potential here should not be underestimated: every niche, engaged target audience that a brand can think of can be found in the podcast realm.

The engagement is high

Interestingly, a BBC study recently discovered that in the UK people were 22% more likely to remember a brand mentioned in a podcast than a TV ad. One of the benefits of podcast advertising is that it is hands-free listening, meaning the listener is able to do something else at the same time, such as going for a walk or cleaning the house. 

The IAB’s Real Living 2021: Understanding Listeners report found that because podcasts are chosen to be listened to at that moment, the listeners give it their sole attention without other media distractions – and therefore listen with more purpose than they do with many other media channels. Not only this, but podcast listeners specifically choose what they are listening to, their engagement is much higher. According to the MIDAS Spring report, 90% of UK podcast fans said that they listen to the majority (or the whole) of a podcast episode.

The voice as a tool for intimate connection shouldn’t be underestimated. Listeners feel like they have a close relationship with the podcast hosts, and understand the value exchange in listening to the content – a study by the IAB found that 78% of listeners approve of sponsorship messages because they understand these ads fund the content they love. Advertisers should take advantage of this by partnering with podcast hosts to produce an engaging message that the listeners will love.

The purchasing power

Tapestry research found that 51% of weekly users of each channel said that podcast ads made them want to buy something from a brand, with only 38% saying the same for radio. According to a new report on podcast advertising by the IAB and Edison research, 45% regularly respond to ads by visiting the brand’s website and 37% gather more information about the product or company. The success of direct-response advertising within podcasting demonstrates the power of taking action – these ads are a way for brands to have endorsements from famous content creators, who can be very influential when it comes to encouraging listeners to take action.


Edelman research found that 70% of consumers agree that brand trust is more important today than in the past. A podcast host builds authentic relationships with its listeners over weeks, months or even years of weekly episodes and, interestingly, podcast advertising is considered more trusted than other media channels. A Magna Global study illustrated that 48% of UK listeners said they trust podcast hosts more than hosts of other traditional media, including radio or TV shows. A recent Guardian study also found that trust levels increased from 45% to 63% when podcasts were added to a brand’s media mix.

YouGov research found that UK listeners are more likely to ‘feel deeply connected’ to a brand when they can hear a ‘voice’ – more specifically, their favourite host’s voice – so brands should tap into this ready-made authenticity and trust to help consumers further connect with their brand.

Podcast fans are always on the hunt for the next podcast that they can become obsessed with and the market is only becoming more diverse. An Ofcom Podcast Survey 2021 showed that people believe that podcasts offer more variety and choice, with 78% of people saying they find it easy to find a podcast that they will enjoy, and 87% saying that they like the range of content available on podcasts. The more content there is available to the masses, the more opportunities there are for brands to align themselves with the various subject matters and topics covered.

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