US Programmatic Podcast Ad Spending Will Double in 2020

Programmatic podcast ad spending in the US, which we are forecasting this year for the first time, is growing at a fast rate from a small base. We define such ad spending to include podcast ads that are transacted and fulfilled via automation. Spend will double from last year to $31.3 million and reach $106.5 million by 2022.

Just 4.0% of total US podcast ad spending will transact or be fulfilled programmatically, up from 2.2% last year. That figure will increase to 8.0% in 2022.

There are multiple reasons why programmatic has been slow going into podcasts:

  • Some podcast publishers haven’t adopted the necessary ad tech to facilitate these transactions.
  • Apple, which controls one of the most popular platforms for podcasts, has been reluctant to share listener-level data with advertisers, making targeting and measurement more difficult.
  • Brand awareness, which is influenced more by overall reach than hypertargeting specific segments, has become a more common podcast campaign goal.
  • Some podcasters fear that programmatic could reduce their ad prices and ruin the user experience, so they turn to embedded host-read ads instead.
  • Some ad buyers prefer embedded host-read ads because they find them to be more effective.

Nearly half (47%) of US podcast advertising was purchased on an annual rate in 2019, and 31% was purchased quarterly, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Some 21% was bought on a scatter basis. And only 1% was purchased programmatically.

When so much inventory is purchased well before a campaign runs, it restricts programmatic’s role.