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When the Top 1000 Podcasts Produce a Near 50% Churn Rate, How do Brands Buy Mass Audiences in Our Medium?

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

Ross Adams, Acast CEO
June 27, 2023

By investing in the top 500 podcasts, US media buyers are missing 88% of the addressable audiences they think they’re reaching

Another star-studded IAB Upfronts and Cannes Lions seasons have come and gone. But as the excitement from all of the glitz and glam winds down and the smoke begins to fade from the mirrors, there is one concrete fact that remains: advertisers are not reaching the podcast audiences they really want to or should be.

As brilliantly presented on stage at the IAB Upfronts by Acast Director of Sales and Brand Partnerships Christiana Brenton, Acast has uncovered new market insights through the industry’s intelligence database, Podchaser, that proves US advertisers are missing a striking 88% of addressable podcast audiences

According to the findings, there are currently over 2.3 million English-speaking podcasts listened to in the US, but 44% of US podcast advertising investments are confined to the top 500 shows. And, perhaps most importantly, these top 500 podcasts only account for 12% of monthly reach – meaning advertisers are missing the opportunity to reach nearly 88% of the addressable podcast audience. 

And if that wasn’t enough, a new analysis from Magellan AI shows that podcasts in the top 1000 produce a near 50% churn rate year-on-year. According to Magellan, in 2021 and 2022 an average of 45% of podcasts in the top 500 fell out of the top 500 list by the following year – and that number grew to 49% when looking at the top 1000 podcasts over the same time period. 

And the damage of restricting ad spend to the top podcasts goes far beyond just missed opportunities for advertisers to connect with listeners. 

In fact, this concentrated demand leads to inflated CPMs for media buyers and higher ad loads for listeners – all while advertisers are hitting the same audiences over and over again. According to Magallan AI, podcasts in the top 500 have a 30% higher ad load than shows in the top 3,000. This results in a reduced share of voice and increased category clutter for the advertisers.

Not only are the top 500 podcasts oversaturated for advertisers, but listeners of smaller sized podcasts are 90% more likely to welcome more ads on the podcasts they listen to than listeners of large sized podcasts, according to Acast research.

To put it simply, by concentrating their spend to just the top 500 or even 1000 podcasts, advertisers are tarnishing their own campaign effectiveness. 

And now more than ever marketers are under pressure to produce campaigns that deliver results. In new research released from Gartner, 75% of CMOs feel heightened pressure to “do more with less” to drive profitable growth this year as a result of persisting macroeconomic headwinds. Gartner’s study also found that to accomplish this growth marketers are increasing investments in technology at a higher rate than any other solution – 68% year-on-year.

At Acast, we’ve always kept technology at the core of our business and built products and tools that are rooted in data-driven decisioning and an innovative vision for the future. Most recently, we introduced host-read sponsorships to our self-serve advertising platform. Previously, advertisers could use the platform to buy spots for pre-recorded audio ads. Now, they can also use the platform’s automated discovery tools to buy sponsorships read by podcast hosts themselves with access to the entire Acast Marketplace right at their fingertips. By introducing technology into this process, Acast is taking action to reduce media bias and oversaturation on the top shows by introducing media buyers to more podcasts – and audiences – that fit their campaign goals, but they otherwise may not have known to consider. (Remember: there are more than 2.3 million English-speaking podcasts in the US alone, buying on just what you know is going to eliminate a lot of inventory and audience potential). 

We have also solved for advertisers’ stifled reach by developing first-to-market technology solutions that enable advertisers to target podcasts via audiences rather than just by show name.

At the end of last year, Acast launched a first-party data targeting solution that through partnerships with the likes of LiveRamp, Adobe, and others, enables advertisers to leverage their own first party data to target podcast audiences. Specifically, this allows for signals like mobile advertising IDs (MAIDs) and device IDs to be introduced into the podcasting ecosystem and effectively enables advertisers to find their exact audience with first party data matching across all listening apps out there. 

This innovation alone has resulted in a 230% increase in advertiser lead generation, attracting a series of new global brands to Acast.

And it doesn’t stop there

What addressability solves for reaching the right listener at the right place and right time, is what content and genre signals are solving for transparency and brand safety. 

Acast was the first podcast supply partner to pass these data signals to buyers on The Trade Desk, allowing them to have more granular insights to optimize campaign performance in real time. 

These two innovations – first party data targeting and introducing content and genre signals into the programmatic bitstream – have led Acast to deliver new industry benchmarks in full funnel effectiveness. 

Our recent work with fitness brand Orangetheory demonstrates how this all comes together.

In the first quarter of this year, Acast worked with Orangetheory and The Trade Desk on a campaign to drive incremental reach and encourage fitness class bookings with audiences listening to podcasts in a “fitness” frame of mind that was geo-targeted to Orangetheory locations. 

This campaign leveraged first party data targeting, content signal reporting and cost per acquisition measurement for site visits and online bookings.

As a result of Acast’s capabilities, cost per booking confirmation was 16% more efficient for Acast podcasts compared to all other audio and podcast inventory. 

To learn more about how Acast’s first-to-market targeting capabilities and insights can help your campaigns reach the 88% of podcast audiences you’ve likely been missing, please reach out to

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