Pandemic Pushes Podcast Advertising, Messages Consumers Want To Hear

Purchasing and consumption habits have changed amidst COVID-19. Communicating with consumers during times of crisis remains a challenge for some brands, and many are turning to podcasts to stay in touch.

Podcast advertising revenue in the United States is expected to grow 14.7% in 2020, according to the fourth annual IAB Podcast Advertising Revenue Report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In 2019, podcast advertising revenue rose by 48%, reaching $708.1 million. Megaphone, one of the largest podcast hosting and monetization platforms, partnered with several companies to study how 15 podcast ads performed during COVID.

The study — Communicating with Consumers in Times of Crisis — reveals how marketers can adjust to rapid shifts in purchasing and consumption habits, as well as generational shift in overall attitudes. The study analyzed sentiment from a 477-person panel.

The findings show that 65% of consumers still want to hear from brands, but 72% expect their messaging to reflect the current challenges.

Context is important to the current climate. Survey participants cited context in advertising as being important, at 72%.

The study assigned each creative with an overall composite score based on the following Attributes, what feelings the ad elicits; Recall, how memorable the ad is; Intent, how likely the listener is to take action after hearing the ad; and Engagement, the extent to which the listener interacted with the ad.

After listening to both standard and COVID-specific ads, consumers found the COVID-19 pandemic-related ads were more appropriate during this time than their standard counterparts. Some 70% said the messages were correct for the times, and 70% through the messages felt appropriate for the current environment.

Consumers are open to being sold to, at 50%, but sincerity in messaging remains important. Some 72% said the tone of voice in advertising is important to me in the current climate. Some verticals such as finance require a greater adjustment to messaging than others such as CPG, for example.

Compassion goes a long way in connecting with consumers.

Analyzing second-by-second response data, listeners rated ads as sincere, timely, and trustworthy after hearing phrases that conveyed connectedness and empathy such as “together, we’re ready to get through this” or “we promise to be there for you.”

In an industry heavily impacted by COVID, financial advertisers can benefit from adjusted messaging. Ways to offer support, describe relief plans, and mention remote banking options resonate well with listeners, with an 8% increase in purchase intent and even higher scores for sincerity, timeliness, and relevance when compared with industry benchmarks, according to the report.

COVID-19 ads related to finance metric scores came in at 54 for message recall and 81 for consideration intent. COVID ads related to a travel attribute scored 81 for sincerity, 82 for timely, and 72 for relevant.

Recall for COVID ads came in with a score of 55 and 81 for consideration intent. Attribute scores for sincerity came in at 81; timely, 82; and relevant to me, 72.

Travel COVID-related ads had a similar result. All travel ads tested also came in well above benchmarks. COVID-19 ads related to travel metric scores came in at 59 for message recall and 82 for consideration intent. COVID-19 ads related to a travel attribute scored 82 for sincerity and 82 for timely.

Revised travel ads that touched on new challenges in light of COVID-19 were rated 28% more appropriate and drove a 13% increase in positive brand perception and favorability.

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