MNI Blog  /  2 minute read

How the Pandemic Changed Podcast Advertising

Podcast advertising is experiencing a shift in trends because of the pandemic. Learn how to effectively reach your target audiences through podcast ads.

Podcast advertising is one of many industries experiencing a shift in trends as a direct result of the pandemic. This shift is mainly due to changes in the consumer listening journey and an increase in the number of available podcasts to advertise on. With more people home than ever before, listeners are on the rise. Also, those who live alone may be lacking human interaction and socialization, so they have turned to podcasts for enjoyment and company.  In a pandemic world full of uncertainty and fear, podcasts have become an escape for users.

Additionally, there is a rise in listenership due to an increase in users’ willingness to learn new technology. People are becoming more comfortable with new platforms, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, due to the “work from home” remote setting. Fifty-three percent of people who work from home listen to “spoken word audio content” more than once a week (Wahlmedia). With this change also comes a shift in demographics. Traditionally, podcasts have skewed toward the younger age groups, but in 2020, we saw an increase across all age groups, including 55+, which rose to twenty-two percent from seventeen percent the year prior (WahlMedia).

With the increase in listeners, we are also seeing the rise of new creators.  Apple itself hit 1,000,000 podcasts in 2020, almost half being published in early 2020 (Simplecast). Being at home is allowing people to tap into their passions and creativity. An increase in creators leads to more content and genres for users to listen to and adopt – resulting in more available ad space for brands.

Podcast Advertising & Consumer Listening Habits Are Evolving

Advertising across podcasts has become more effective and targeted. Traditionally, advertising opportunities on podcasts were host-read sponsorships. While still effective, this limits advertisers in terms of geographic and audience targeting. Today, advertisers can dynamically insert their audio spots into a vast selection of podcasts, all in real time. This allows advertisers to reach more targeted and niche audiences at scale. 

B2B podcast advertisers and B2C agencies like MNI can find and target precise audiences using both 1st and 3rd party data. Informed by data, advertisers can focus on reaching audiences across whatever content they may be listening to, or target based on specific genres to serve ad messaging that will appeal to the listeners most. This advancement increases audience reach and is ultimately a more effective media strategy.

While popularity, scale, and opportunities increase, there has also been a shift in performance metrics when utilizing podcasts.  Traditionally, podcasts fall in an upper funnel awareness strategy, but there has been a switch as podcast networks adapt to measure lower funnel actions. This will help advertisers attribute the success of their campaigns to podcasts. A survey reports that, “76 percent of podcast listeners have taken action after hearing podcast advertising” (campaign live).

Benefits of Podcast Advertising During the Pandemic

Podcast ad spots are inexpensive and easy to produce, allowing easy distribution. Podcasts allow advertisers to seamlessly swap out creative for different promos and campaigns with new ad spots. When the pandemic hit, this became crucial as advertisers quickly had to rework and adapt their creative messaging. This also allows advertisers to create more personalized messaging that will resonate with their audience more. 

So why advertise on podcasts? During this time of uncertainty, it is important for advertisers to connect with their audience in trusted and intimate environments.  As users listen to the content of their choice, they may be more receptive to advertisers' messaging. Consumers often listen while alone, whether on their phones, on the go, or on their smart speakers at home, allowing advertisers to make one-to-one connections. Podcasts also have specific ad breaks; therefore, podcast advertisers are not lost in the shuffle on a page or bombarding a user with multiple ads at a time.


Advertisers must take note of this industry change, or they will miss out on a key channel of communication. From the increase in listeners to the boom of creators, podcast advertising is the ticket to meaningful campaigns. MNI Targeted Media offers solutions across podcasts to help advertisers reach their audiences efficiently and strategically. 

About the Author

Rebecca Talmadge is the Team Lead of the Harpoon Digital Media Planning team. Rebecca has worked at MNI for three years and focuses on our most strategic accounts. She has experience across all client verticals and enjoys helping clients meet their goals and objectives.