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Podcast Partnerships for Social Good

In the immortal words of Mariah Carey, all I wanted for Christmas last year was... an opportunity to scale podcast support of Ad Council issues.

And I am so pleased to report my holiday dreams came true!

If you’re wondering why that’s a big deal and worthy of one of my favorite “Ahhhh” reaction gifs, it’s because the podcast space is sitting at the intersection of everything I love about a new media vertical: 

  • The explosive growth -- there are now more than 800,000 podcasts available, up from 525,000 in April 2018.  According to Edison Research’s 2019 Share of Ear report, 51% of Americans (144 million) have ever listened to a podcast, up from 44% in 2018, with listenership continuing to trend upward.
  • The “test and learn” mindset -- podcasts over the last 3-5 years remind me of the early days of social before the ground rules and playbooks had been established.  Advertising scale has been particularly challenging due to the number of shows and inconsistent advertising and reporting infrastructure across the board, which encourages a spirit of low-risk/high-reward testing and learning.
  • The rapt audience -- this is bound to change inevitably (as Skittles so delicately put it, “advertising ruins everything” 🥴 ) but for now, the majority of monthly podcast listeners are listening to entire episodes, and 54% of podcast consumers say they are more likely to consider the brands they hear advertised on podcasts. By nature of the medium, podcasts foster an intimate relationship between listeners and show hosts who are reading ads and endorsing products/services. 

Which is why I was so excited when Anchor approached us about a first-of-its-kind partnership in December, encouraging show hosts to give back during the holidays.  Anchor -- a podcast platform that allows creators to create & distribute shows from within an app, and gives brands the option to submit sponsored ad copy to the app -- wanted to feature Ad Council PSA live reads via their Sponsorships feature, to give hosts an option to record pro-bono PSAs for the issue(s) of their choice.

Buzzed Driving Prevention, Shelter Pet Adoption, and Diversity & Inclusion were promoted on the tab for 2 weeks, and in aggregate, the pro-bono PSA reads delivered 642K impressions!!  More than 5,800 individual shows recorded PSAs, with some shows supporting all three campaigns!  

The ability to scale our reach with minimal manual lift, drive significant delivered impressions in two weeks, and learn which campaigns resonated within different categories of podcasts is nothing short of...


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