Podcast advertising is estimated to reach above $678 million for 2019. And it seems that the trend comes with good reason. According to a 2018 Nielson study, podcast advertising performed better than digital ads for giving brands a lift. At Digitent we wondered how and why. After some research, we conclude that higher levels of engagement and recall are driven by the pervasive behavior of multitasking in society today. How does multitasking fit in you ask? Well, we are all multitasking, all the time. Who isn’t on their device while commuting on the subway or walking down the street bumping into each other. Cooking dinner with the game on. Driving while listening to a podcast. Granted, one would think that the multitasker is less focused and less engaged in their activities than if they were focused on only one thing. Not so says a recent study by the BBC’s branded content division, StoryWorks.

Ok, let’s keep in mind that StoryWorks has a horse in the race. But the study is legit and utilized some advanced scientific methods where brain activity was measured to determine emotional responses, cognitive engagement and memory of the brand compared to a television benchmark. The global study included people with HHI of over $100,000 and who self-identified as regular podcast listeners who avoid ads. A desirable group to most advertisers. So, what did they find? 94% of podcast listeners do other things while tuning in, researchers found. Self-identified ad avoiders were 22% more engaged, emotionally involved and likely to remember brands mentioned in a podcast compared to TV ads. “It’s a well-known fact that ad avoidance is something that the industry grapples with, and we wanted to see if these people could be positively reached with branded podcasts,” said Caitlin Harley, BBC News director of multiplatform ad sales research, North America. “What we ultimately found out is that they are.”

Since podcast listeners are more engaged than TV watchers, and 94% are multitasking while listening, the study confirms that the act of multitasking is a key driver of engagement. The study also looked at podcast listening vs podcast listening and multitasking, finding that the listening multitaskers had better results. That concept seems antithetical to traditional ideas of focus or being distracted from a task. But of course, our brains are still a big mystery and that’s just the way it works. “Simply put, we could say that secondary listening reduces listener wear-out,” Harley said.

Studies like this one by the BBC, along with the statistical popularity and rapid rise of podcast listening, likely driven by that big societal behavior, today’s societal need to multitask, is why we at Digitent are betting on a continued opportunity for marketing in the space. And not just ad buying, but custom podcast content development in the model of the soap opera. “This program brought to you by – insert brand.” As we merge our agency capabilities of brand stewardship and creative story-telling, strategic audience segmentation and media designed to reach these specific audiences, we are finding engaging ways to develop podcast content built to attract our client’s targets. We think podcasting is a wave worth riding. And please tune in to our own podcast series where we talk to senior marketing executives about the concept of ambition in their organizations – “Ambitious Marketer” at thedigitent.com/insights. And do listen while running errands or commuting. You’ll have a more memorable experience.

The study referenced commissioned by BBC’s branded content division, StoryWorks.