Regardless of who you are or what you do, there’s a pretty solid chance that you’re aware of the increasing number of podcasts at your fingertips. But, the average joe might not be aware of just how much growth the podcast industry is experiencing. Yes, according to Chartable, there are 700,000+ podcasts out there; but the more staggering statistic that truly showcases the industry’s explosiveness – and helps to legitimize it – is that, as reported on by The Verge, podcasting is expected to hit $1 billion in revenue by 2021.
As the industry evolves, so does way that podcasters advertise. While host-read ads remain the most popular format, according to the IAB and PwC’s 2018 report, dynamically inserted ads are on the rise, making up 48.8% of ads. More and more podcast content and tech companies are focusing on making this delivery mechanism more advanced and user-friendly (take, for example, our recent announcement of just that with Audioboom). Instead of editing in ads from the get-go, utilizing dynamically inserted ads allows podcasters to switch out their commercials as time goes by, making listens valuable regardless of when they occur.
As we move through the daily use and analytics of our podcast ad tech tools, we find a lot of interesting nuggets of information along the way. With all the talk of categories lately, due to Apple Podcasts’ adjustments, we wanted to take a look at how the category of a podcast impacts their revenue. Once we pulled out the top five money-making podcast categories in our analytics’ two largest markets, we also highlighted the top advertisers within each category. Read on for our full analysis of the data and thoughts on what this means for the industry.
Top Money-Making Podcast Categories
We decided to take a look at the top five money-making podcast categories – according to VAN – in both the U.S. and Europe, plus we denote the hour in which dynamic ads make the most revenue per category.
Top five revenue-generating podcast categories in the U.S.:
- Sports (Ads in this category generate most revenue at 7 a.m.)
It’s not a huge surprise to see this category at the top of the list. While Ad Age reports a decrease in the cost to advertise during NFL games on TV last year, Sunday Night Football remains the most popular show to buy at ad spot on at “over $700,000 a pop.” Seeing the carryover to podcasting is natural for our sports-obsessed culture. Although, it’s interesting to see that ads are most valuable during the morning, when intuition says otherwise.
- Culture (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 8 a.m.)
As mentioned in our last report, Culture is a vague category, but once you understand that true crime shows are categorized under this umbrella, it’s easy to understand why this category grabbed the number two spot on our list.
- History (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 10 p.m.)
It’s no secret that people listen to podcasts to learn, and the history category continues to top the list as most listened to, so it’s no surprise that this category finds itself a top ad earner. As we’ve reported on before, history podcast consumers love to listen late at night, which is why 10 p.m. is the most valuable ad time.
- Politics (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 5 p.m.)
With the increasingly interesting political day-to-day that we live in, this category has shot up in revenue earnings recently. We anticipate the number of ad dollars to only increase as the 2020 presidential election approaches.
- Comedy (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 7 a.m.)
Amongst some heavier topics in the list, it’s nice to see that light-heartedness is getting some love, too. PodcastingInsights.com reports that comedy is the most popular category of 2019, so while it’s in our top five list here, it’s interesting to see that the potential top category is only in the fifth spot regarding revenue.
Top five revenue-generating podcast categories in Europe:
- Sports: (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 9 a.m.)
While we mentioned how sports-obsessed the US is, Europe has long been home to the most religious football (or soccer in the US) fans in the world, so this category is right at home at the top of the list. With ad revenue being at its highest in the morning as well as the US, it’s likely that podcasts that recap and release the morning after a game or match would find the most revenue success.
- Culture (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 10 p.m.)
In the same vein as the U.S., this category finds itself on the list thanks to the ever-popular true crime shows that fall within. However, different from the U.S., it’s interesting to note that more listeners are tuning in after nightfall.
- Technology (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 8 a.m.)
As previously mentioned, listeners – regardless of location – are utilizing podcasts as a way to learn. It makes sense why this category is cashing in, especially when you see the learning-focused advertisers in the list below.
- Comedy (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 12 p.m.)
Similar to the U.S., comedy’s category popularity itself connects it to the ability to generate revenue, although we do have to wonder why it seems to be lagging behind less popular category’s ad dollar generation.
- History (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 8 a.m.)
As mentioned in the U.S. category, listeners are utilizing podcasts to learn and discovery information. With a history so interesting and lengthy, it’s no wonder history tops the charts.
- Sports: (Ads in this category generate the most revenue at 9 a.m.)
Top Advertisers Based on Category
Once we started diving into each category, we thought it could also be interesting to take a look at the advertisers that are spending the most within each category.
Top five advertisers of the biggest revenue-generating podcast categories in the U.S.:
- History: The advertisers with the largest share of voice in this category are Progressive (9.24%), Geico (4.89%), AT&T (4.83%), Xfinity (4.64%) and Firehouse Subs (4.02%).
- Politics: The advertisers with the largest share of voice in this category are Progressive (10.81%), Circle K (4.56%), Quicken Loans (2.59%), Uber (2.24%) and Firehouse Subs (4.70%).
- Comedy: The advertisers with the largest share of voice in this category are Progressive (7.70%), Geico (5.22%), Xfinity (4.99%), AT&T (4.38%) and Strong Volkswagen (3.65%).It’s interesting to note that the top advertisers within the U.S. are insurance companies. It’s also interesting that the top ads don’t vary that much based on category. Companies like Progressive and AT&T and Uber are saturating the market regardless of their topic.
Top five advertisers of the biggest revenue-generating podcast categories in Europe:
- Technology: The advertisers with the largest share of voice in this category are LogiTravel (20.87%), Volkswagen (17.19%), Fundación Universidad-Empresa (6.20%), Renault España (4.87%) and Audi (4.08%).
- Comedy: The advertisers with the largest share of voice in this category are Volkswagen (46.92%), Audi (11.57%), Ikea (8.15%), Q8 (2.70%) and Lidl (2.27%).
- History: Volkswagen (17.09%), Avantcard (4.75%), Lidl (4.71%), LogiTravel (4.32%) and Audi (3.89%).
The overall commonality with the top advertisers is that many of them are car brands. And just like the insurance companies in the U.S., they don’t seem to be strategically selecting the categories to advertise in, they’re getting involved in nearly every one. There is, however, a bit more selectiveness with some advertisers like Fundación Universidad-Empresa who are investing in a topic that’s closely tied to their mission.
Questions and Insights
Will podcast advertisers start being more selective?
This is one question we asked ourselves repeatedly as we reviewed the data. Since advertising in the podcast world, and dynamic ads in particular, are still quite new, we think this is a testing period for many of the big brands. They’re dolling out ad dollars to all the top categories to see what’s successful for them. In the future, we’ll likely see less of a smattering and instead, a focus on the categories that are the most aligned with brand values and attributes.
Will there be a prime time forex?
Right now, ads, regardless of the time that they’re delivered, cost advertisers the same amount. But, there is a clearly a higher return on investment when ads are delivered during more popular listening times. We believe there’s a good chance that podcasters and ad networks will start varying their pricing based on the time of ad delivery.
Will podcast advertising eventually look similar to TV advertising?
The last question leads us to believe that the answer to this question is yes. As the industry matures, we believe that podcasting advertisers will have to get smarter with what categories they deliver ads to, and when they deliver those ads. Plus, eventually, we believe there will be more of a focus on buying ad spots with specific shows versus overall categories.