August 22, 2023

New Dentsu Research: In the Attention Economy, Podcasts Outperform All Others

By Idil Cakim, SVP - Head of Research & Insights, Audacy

The case for podcast advertising just hit a new decibel: Podcast ads command more attention than other media. Research from ad agency dentsu indicates podcast ads hold consumers’ attention longer than other popular media channels, including TV. Podcast spots also generate more impressive ad recall than their competitors. 

From true crime to wellness to politics, more than 180 million Americans are diving into podcasts that pique their interests, and the audience is quickly expanding. In a boon for intrepid advertisers who have embraced podcasts, fans are highly receptive to brand messages. 

According to dentsu’s 2023 Attention Economy Podcast Study, conducted in partnership with research firm Lumen, podcast ads drive two times more attention than social media, digital video, and TV ad formats.

Host-read podcast ads were the winner among all formats, averaging 14.2 seconds of attention time, which surpassed 30-second TV spots.   

podcast attention study

These stats confirm podcasting’s value proposition: Podcasts cut through the clutter and deliver enthusiastic consumers. There is content for nearly any interest and passion, and engaging hosts who feel like best friends in the passenger seat on a road trip.  

Podcast listeners have great affinity not only to the programming but also podcast hosts.

Diana Anderson
SVP, Group Director, National Audio Activation, Carat USA

The dentsu findings position podcasts as a potent player in the media mix, ahead of social media, digital video, and TV advertising in effectiveness. It also debunks the myth that consumers need visuals to focus on ads and take action. Additionally, the report notes that podcast ads are all technically audible, making the medium all the more effective in delivering brand messages. 

If these assertions sound like game-changers for podcasts, you’re right. Audio publishers have been singing podcasts’ praises for a while, but brands have asked for more data to justify increased ad spending and prove return on investment. 

While dentsu has been tracking attention to ads for five years, the latest iteration marks the first time the agency measured podcasts, radio, and streaming ads. The agency’s initiative points to Audio’s rapid rise and growing influence. 

Across the agency’s 2023 Attention Economy study, the data helps advance the argument that podcasts — and Audio in general — deserve a larger share of the ad pie. 

After listening to podcasts on Audacy and other top publishers, participants recorded their ad recall and brand choice uplift. Dentsu tested traditional 15- and 30-second spots and host-read ads that ran between 20 and 70 seconds across verticals, including –  but not limited to – retail, CPG, and healthcare.

While podcasts effectively garner attention, brands want consumers to take action after that exposure. Here again, podcasts deliver, the study noted. 

Dentsu’s report indicates podcast ads drive positive brand engagement better than competitor media. Among participants, podcast spots produced 33% average brand recall, in line with visual ads, and +7% lift brand choice, compared to a norm of +6%. (Brand choice is defined as an increased likelihood of choosing a brand due to ad exposure.)

That leads to yet another reason to activate with podcast hosts: Host-read podcast ads generated +8% higher brand choice. Podcast listeners are loyal to their favorite hosts and trust their recommendations for products and services, like a valued friend or co-worker. That intimate, personal relationship between Audio hosts and listeners is invaluable to brands looking for suitable and effective environments for their messaging. 

Unlike TV or digital video, where many consumers change channels or apps to avoid commercials, podcast listeners are a receptive audience. Audacy’s 2023 Podcast Playbook noted that half of listeners said podcast ads are not intrusive, while about 80% of listeners stay tuned for the entire ad. 

Younger listeners are particularly engaged. Gen Z and Millennials are 31% and 69% more likely to purchase a product or service due to a podcast ad.

A powerful story emerges when you weave together insights from studies like dentsu’s and Audacy’s extensive research. From limitless content choices to engaging hosts, podcasts earn loyal audiences and embrace brands that support their favorite content and hosts. 

Podcast ads can effectively cut through ad clutter, leave a lasting impression, and deliver conversion. Now that’s an attention-grabber.

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dentsu Attention Economy Podcast Study, conducted by Lumen Research, 2023

Podcast Playbook, Audacy, 2023 

Edison Research, The Infinite Dial 2023

Edison Research, Podcast Super Listeners Study 2021

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