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How Acast won the most prestigious sales award during a recession - 5 thoughts on the keys to success

From targeting and creative development to measurement, we offer the most advanced solutions to make your podcast campaign a success.

Johanna Turner, Director of Sales Nordics
October 16, 2023

The Sales Organization of the Year runs the media in an insight-based and fun way with great commitment where the customer is always in focus. They share the sales organization's insights and knowledge of user behavior with their partners and together they continuously drive and develop their products. This is a big part of why the jury this year rewards Acast the Sales organization of the year”.

That was the citation when we won the prestigious award Sales Organization of the Year last month at Stockholm Media Week. Acast has won many awards over the years,  but this particular one, I have to admit, felt a little more special. 

Perhaps because it is an award for the whole team - a team that I believe in and am so passionate about. Maybe because we won the award during a time marked by marketing budget cuts, tentative advertisers, and where recession is a fact. Maybe because it was another confirmation that Acast is doing everything right when it comes to driving the podcast industry forward.

During the past couple of weeks I have been reflecting on some of the factors that have been significant in getting us to where we are today. And what made us, Acast, the sales organization of the year.

1. The customer in focus

Since 2014, Acast has worked with podcasts, podcasts and only podcasts. This means that it’s safe to say that we are experts in podcasts. Acast knows how you, as a brand, can break through the noise and create buzz. We know how to create a long-term audio strategy which drives sales and strengthens your brand, both in the short and long term. 

The key factor in much of this is that Acast is an insights-driven organization. This means that data and behavioral analyses are always the foundation of everything that we do. This is especially true of the brilliant campaigns and concepts that our creative team, Acast Creative, makes for advertisers. 

Acast Creative manages to find the essence of what our brands want to communicate - with creative storytelling always at its core. During the entire process, there is also a dedicated project manager who, in addition to answering all questions that may arise along the way, also ensures high-quality results in every detail. In my experience in sales and advertising, this bespoke approach is a big part of our success and something that makes the customer feel that they are a high priority to us – because they are.

2. Because it works

But in the end, it's the result that counts. There's a reason why we, who work with podcasts every day, are so passionate about it - we know what podcast advertising can do for a brand. And now Acast has proven it. 

In a study Acast carried out with OMD's analysis department Annalect and Spotify, we examined revenue growth in relation to the investment in Swedish SEK. The survey shows that advertisers get 4.4 times the money back on every SEK invested in podcasts. If you look at both sales growth and the brand building effect, you get a whopping 6.2 times your investment back. This high return makes podcasting a wise investment always, but even more so during hard economic times when advertisers are under even more pressure to show returns on every SEK spent.

3. Without podcast creators, no advertisers

Today, 2.5 million Swedes listen to podcasts at least once a week. In a recent study 75% of these listeners stated that podcast creators are the ones who influence them the most, compared to 15% of social media influencers . This proves the overwhelming influence that our podcast creators actually have on their audiences. 

One reason for this is continuity. Long-time listening builds trust and allows listeners to develop parasocial relationships with the podcasters they love. We see these relationships grow even stronger when listening takes place in an intimate and noise-free environment. We see that Acast listeners build strong relationships with their favorite podcasters, which also means that they trust and have confidence in the brands and advertisers they represent. At Acast, we often say that podcasters are our best friends in our ears - and we trust them.  

Today, there are more than 100,000 podcasts that call Acast home. For advertisers, this is a home filled with brilliant, creative, and amusing podcasters that deliver brand messages in an authentic and genuine way and exhibit a strong influence on their listeners.

Our collaboration with these incredible creators is the foundation of all our success at Acast and we are so proud of all the brilliant voices and stories that fill our ears every day.

4. Paying attention to the podcast

In the fast-moving and hectic existence that makes up the world around us, there are many brands who struggle to cut through the noise. As our media habits change many forms of media are not effective in reaching consumer attention. However, podcasting has proven time and time again to be the pivotal player in the larger attention economy.

At Acast we often talk about the noise-free environment and the intimacy of podcasting being some of the factors that make the medium so strong. Listeners choose when, where and how they want to consume their favorite podcasts. The fact that over 70% choose to listen via headphones and a full 80% listen alone proves that audiences are tuned in to what they are listening to and intentional about how they engage with podcast content. This makes it possible for Acast to not only reach the more than 100 million unique listeners that we do each month, but also to make authentic connections with them. 

We know that listeners are our most important asset and we cherish them. In order to make each advertising message unique and not to tire our listeners with too many brand messages, we never have more than two sponsorships per commercial break in Sweden. That high share of voice is unique to Acast and also one of the reasons why our main target group in the Swedish market, the commercially strong group aged 20-49, is precisely the group that actively avoids advertising in all other media.

5. The team is everything.

In my role as Director of Sales for the Nordics, I remind both myself and my colleagues that we’re in such a unique position - we have the opportunity to change the podcast industry in our market - and it's important that we’re having fun along the way. We’re not saving lives here, everything is fixable and fear should never be a driving force, only passion. For me, it is important to be part of a prosperous team where you dare to challenge each other and ask questions. That's how we learn, that's how we move forward, and that's how we keep pushing the podcast industry forward. 

I am so incredibly proud of the Acast team that I have the pleasure of leading in the Swedish market. Together we make smart, creative and insightful campaigns for our advertisers that allow our podcasters to make more money from their craft and importantly, engage our listeners.

And, now that we are crowned Sweden's best sales organization, it’s all a little sweeter.

1 The New Era of Influence, by Magna
2 Big Fat Podcast Report 2023, by Acast

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