Nearly half of podcast listeners choose to skip ads

Research from YouGov suggests more than two in five podcast listeners are avoiding advertising entirely, while just 14% say they find them unintrusive.

Only a small minority of podcast listeners are receptive to advertising via the medium, according to new research.

The study by YouGov suggests just one in seven listeners (14%) find ads in podcasts to be interesting and not interruptive, while more than two in five (42%) skip them altogether, an increase on the previous year when 36% of regular listeners felt the same.

Almost one in five (18%) listeners find podcast ads to be intrusive but choose to listen to them anyway – although whether that is because they want to support the podcast or simply don’t want to skip is unclear. And 14% say that while they do not find them particularly intrusive equally they don’t find them particularly interesting either (compared to 17% in 2019).

Acast, one of the largest podcast advertising platforms, does not track when users skip ads and consequently there is no price discount reflecting around ad skipping. A spokesman for the platform says: “Acast doesn’t believe the ability to skip ads diminishes the effectiveness of podcast advertising… in fact our own research has shown that nearly two-thirds (64%) of podcast listeners pay attention to ads.

“We focus on three segments, pre/mid/post, so a low clutter of advertising makes people less likely to skip. Podcast advertising continues to offer a robust ROI despite this opportunity to skip,” it claims.

Other podcast platforms, including Apple’s, do provide retention analytics that allow users to identify whether ads have been skipped.

The YouGov research also finds that 44% of podcast listeners are aged between 18 and 34, while 38% are 35 to 54 and only 17% are over 55. They are also more likely to be unattached, whether through marriage or parenthood.

In July, YouGov similarly found 64% of British radio listeners claimed they were ‘not very likely’ or ‘not likely at all’ to listen to radio advertising if the option to avoid them in some manner was available. However, given that podcasts are typically consumed on platforms where skipping is easier, it is likely more listeners take advantage of the option.

The most popular podcast platforms in the UKAs podcast monetisation matures more brands are taking advantage of branded and sponsored podcasts. Brands, including GE and Sephora, have previously invested in branded podcasts, which are badged in such a way that touchpoints exist throughout the episode therefore mitigating the issue of ad avoidance.

The proportions are similar for TV ad avoidance. Though recent research from Thinkbox suggests TV and radio ads are passively consumed and do have some influence when they are not blocked out or otherwise skipped.

Podcast advertising is predicated on being uninterrupted. Before the advent of programmatic tools, podcast advertising was largely host-read, the intimacy afforded by the relationship between host and listener was repeatedly cited as the key reason to buy podcast ads. While programmatic only accounted for 1% of overall podcast spend in 2021 according to the IAB, it is set to sharply increase to account for just under 20% of podcast ad spend in the US by 2024.

As ROI becomes a bigger priority for marketers in the face of a transition back to performance-driven metrics, tackling podcast ad avoidance is an issue for platform holders and marketers alike.

Marketoonist on podcasts


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