Sports podcast ads offer ‘untapped opportunity’ for brands

Sports podcast ads offer ‘untapped opportunity’ for brands
Three titles from Global's sport podcast slate.

Ads in sports podcasts are more trustworthy and attention-grabbing than other formats, new research has suggested.

Global’s Medals, Mics & Marketing: How Sports Podcasts Bring Brands Closer to the Conversation report found that 61% of listeners said they are “more likely to trust” ads within sports podcasts compared with other formats.

Meanwhile, 65% said they are “more likely to concentrate” on ads within sports podcasts than other formats like TV and online.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) also said that ads delivered by hosts of a sports podcast “feel more personal than other formats”.

In the same study, 63% said that they have taken action from the ads they have heard in a sports podcast, such as visiting a brand’s website.

The latest Rajar figures show that podcasts now have a weekly reach of 21% in the UK among all adults. According to research by YouGov, sports podcasts are the second-most-listened-to genre (21%) for weekly British listeners after comedy (31%).

More topics and opinions

Global’s report found the majority of sports podcast listeners say they are their “favourite way” to keep up to date with sport (81%).

A huge proportion of listeners also highlighted the range of topics that cannot be found on other platforms (85%) and a wider set of opinions (89%).

Most sports podcast listeners “feel more of a connection” to a sports podcast presenter and/or guest as they seem “more openly themselves” (90%), while even more described following a sports podcast as “an emotional experience” (92%).

Analysis: Opportunity for brands

With the “summer of sport” starting off with the Euros, to be followed by the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, Global believes the advertising opportunity in sports podcasts is not solely for sporting brands or to be based around specific events.

The study saw “a massive, and largely untapped, opportunity” for “a wide variety of brands” to get involved with sports podcasts to reach highly engaged audiences.

Faye McDowall, strategy director at Global’s Dax Audio, told The Media Leader: “The real benefit of sports podcasts is when compared to other forms of sports content. Brands are often put off by the big price tags and brand badging associated with other sports media partnerships.

“Sports podcasts offer something unique. They offer a cost-effective way for brands to get involved and get right to the heart of the conversation. It’s a great chance for a wider range of brands who don’t have vast marketing budgets to still be part of the sporting conversation.”

There were two key findings from the report. First, host endorsements of products or services in sports podcasts are “especially effective in influencing purchase decisions”. Secondly, listeners consider ads in their favourite sports podcasts as “more relevant, interesting and trustworthy”, leading to higher levels of attention and engagement than other forms of advertising.

That said, Global cautioned that advertising within sports podcasts required “a contextual appreciation of the community you are engaging with” and brands must ensure the relationship between the host, brand and audience is “balanced”.

From spot ads to branded content

Global advocated the right selection of podcasts that align with a brand’s values and campaign messaging to “engage effectively and authentically”.

McDowall explained that there are “lots of opportunities for advertisers in this space” to reach either a specific sport and fan base or be part of a podcast that looks at “the wider themes of the sporting world”.

These could be spot ads to raise awareness within the genre or host-reads to drive consideration and trust.

McDowall cited Tesco Mobile, the long-term sponsor of The Sports Agents, which launched in February with Gabby Logan and Mark Chapman, as “a great example” of a brand recognising the benefit of aligning with sports content and “building a relationship with listeners over time”.

She also revealed that Global is working with “a big brand” on branded content for Olympic hopeful Tom Deane that gives the advertiser “the space to tell their brand story” in the tone of the Medal Machine podcast.

Global’s sports podcast research used a nationally representative sample of 732 participants who listen to sports podcasts at least once a month.

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