IAB 2019 Podcast Upfront Key Takeaways

IAB 2019 Podcast Upfront Key Takeaways 1

IAB’s Annual Podcast Upfront took place October 16th in New York City. Over 450 brand marketers and agency executives attended this special one-day marketplace designed for advertisers and media buyers to preview the latest in innovative podcast programming from some of the biggest names in the digital audio arena.

Event Takeaways

Podcast audience in growing in different ways

It isn’t just that the audience for podcasts is growing, but, it the breadth and depth of the audience is expanding. The growth in female, minority and younger audiences was cited by several of the presenters as areas of focus in content development and targeting.

Among new listeners, also, their behaviors mirror those of longtime “Super Listeners,” according to Edison Research. They are just as engaged and their time spent listening and number of shows listened to match their seasoned counterparts.

Podcasting is in a golden age of content

The quality and diversity of programming demonstrates podcasting is in a watershed moment. In addition to the standard-bearers of news and true crime, creators are developing programs that tell stories across a wider diversity of styles, formats and perspectives. There is a marked increase in female and minority-led and targeted programs, narrative shows, and celebrity-driven networks. Shonda Rimes, Questlove and Will Ferrell all announced podcast networks they are launching aimed at both providing platforms for star-powered program development and, more importantly, the cultivation of new talent.

Authenticity is everything

The biggest takeaway – and really just further reinforcement – is that, across the board, the moment important consideration is ensuring what is being expressed is authentic, honest and sincere. Podcast creators GIRLS GOTTA EAT shared their view that they will refuse sponsor opportunities if they don’t personally believe in the product. Their (and all creators, really) relationship with their audience is the most important factor in their success and they vigilantly protect it. Ira Glass of THIS AMERICAN LIFE and SERIAL reinforced that point by positing that “there is an intimacy to this medium” which creates a bond with the audience that “carries over to advertisers.”

For advertisers, this is very powerful in that audiences’ bonds with the shows they listen to translate to higher acceptance of ads, and even a willingness to purchase a product just because they “believe” the host recommended it. Ads feel more like endorsements, according to Glass. 90% of listeners, said Stitcher, take action after hearing an ad on a podcast. Edison echoed that sentiment: 70% “considered a new product or service” after hearing an ad. iHeartMedia added that there is nearly no ad skippage among podcast listeners.

From a creative perspective, it is essential to align your creative to the show and host’s tone, style and format. Roman Mars of the 99% INVISIBLE podcast discussed how he has become almost an in-house agency with his advertiser partners: he collaborates on creative and messaging with them. Market Enguinity share five best practices for working with brands and agencies; know the platform (the same mechanics from others platforms cannot simply by re-purposed), facilitate relationship-building with the show/host (what works on one may not work another), leverage personalization (ad/product is an extension of the show), refresh and rotate your placement, investment and creative, and help them understand how make the right investments.

For more information on the 2019 IAB Podcast Upfront click here.


Julian Soler
Director, Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence
at IAB