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Back to basics: Why host-read podcast advertising continues to be the most powerful form of influencer marketing for brands

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

Head of Sales, Americas - Christiana Brenton & Managing Director, Canada - Heather Gordon
September 9, 2022

As podcasting continues to grow as a medium, the advertising strategies available to brands are nearly as diverse as the trove of content available to listeners. And, despite the economic uncertainty currently felt across the globe, podcast ad sales in North America are holding strong — with the US alone still pacing to surpass $2 billion in value by the end of 2023 according to IAB projections.

Why? It’s simple: podcast advertising works.

Podcasting offers immense opportunities to advertisers, but it can sometimes be a difficult space to navigate for where to start with media buying. That’s why Acast offers a marketplace with a range of formats and specialist services to help brands reach their consumers and achieve more meaningful results.  

From our new Conversational Targeting capabilities and our dynamic ad insertion technology, to  longform storytelling with proven engagement rates from Acast Creative, we’ve developed solutions to meet the needs of advertisers at any point in their audio journey.

Host Read Ads

However, while our innovations have moved the podcast advertising industry forward, it’s essential that more traditional strategies are not discounted or forgotten. The host-read ad, for example, was the genesis of podcast advertising — and has continued to play a major role in the overall success of this burgeoning industry.

Host reads, where podcasters endorse a brand in their own unique voice and style, remain a lucrative strategy. This is especially true for categories like direct response, where companies are eager to drive customer acquisition or see immediate returns on their advertising investments.

If a medium and format is loved by performance marketers from direct response clients, you know it works — but the success of host-read advertising is not limited to direct response. A vast number of Acast’s global clients include host-read podcast ads in their marketing strategies.

And recent research we conducted with Nielsen proves that host-read advertising appeals to listener preferences throughout North America.

In our study, 43% of US podcast listeners said they were more likely to buy a product or service after hearing a podcast host promote it. Looking further north, another recent study — once again by Acast and Nielsen — revealed that 43% of Canadian podcast listeners trust podcast hosts when they endorse products or services.

For global brands, podcast advertising presents an opportunity to break into the coveted North American consumer market in an impactful way.

Host-read content continues to be a proven strategy for seasoned ad buyers, because it’s the best kind of influencer marketing — and that’s supported by Nielsen research which found host-read ads lead to stronger lifts in key equity metrics, such as a 67% increase in brand affinity.

Examples of Host Read Ads

The intimacy of the podcast environment combined with the unparalleled engagement rates means we’re also seeing high profile celebrities and creators, with huge followings from platforms like YouTube and TikTok, moving into podcasts for the first time.

Advertisers that have worked with them on social and video platforms, or have wanted to work with a specific celebrity ambassador, can now create meaningful connections with them and their podcast audience, too - through host read ads.

And, with specific calls to action by design, plus innovative targeting and attribution methods, host-read ads deliver a clear and easily tracked return on investment.

Take, for example, the online mental health service Cerebral, who came to Acast with the goal of driving sign-ups on the platform. After a six-month campaign of host-read ads across a slate of Acast podcasts — including the example you can hear below with Two Judgey Girls — Cerebral saw a 163% increase from listeners who would consider using their platform.

In both the US and Canada, our research with Nielsen showed that podcast advertising drives positive brand favorability — with 42% of Canadian podcast fans saying they develop a more positive opinion towards brands that advertise on the shows they listen to. In fact, podcast host reads are now ranked No.1 in KANTAR’s global ad equity report (2021), surpassing social media influencers to deliver peak audience receptivity to advertising.

As a result, major global brands are also unlocking the benefits of host-read ads. Most notably, bands in the consumer packaged goods category have received glowing endorsements across Acast podcasts from expert hosts that use and love their products. Listen to a few highlights below.

However, the benefits of host-read ads are not just limited to CPG brands. Take for example, financial services client CIBC Aventura, which ran host-read ads across a series of Acast podcasts. According to a brand impact impact study by Signal Hill Insights, looking at the host-read ads from The Economist's podcasts specifically, 72% of listeners recalled the ad after exposure.

Signature Hardware came to Acast to increase brand awareness and improve favorability — and together we decided to run a series of host-read ads across seven podcasts.

Looking specifically at the effectiveness of the host-read ads on the podcast Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!, listeners exposed to the host-read ad were 97% more likely to view Signature Hardware favorably. Listeners were also 175% more likely to say that they’d consider using Signature Hardware if purchasing houseware items.

Acast offers a variety of advertising solutions to meet brands’ unique needs and our approach to host-read ads follows suit. We offer both dynamically inserted and baked-in options to our  advertisers and podcasters, giving both parties ultimate flexibility and choice.

Ads that are “baked” into the audio file of a podcast episode can create long-term audience conversions for brands as new listeners discover and download the content over time. Dynamically inserted ads, on the other hand, maintain relevance for the advertiser and target listeners with the most up to date campaign messaging — regardless of how long ago the episode they’re listening to was released.

To learn more about the right host-read advertising strategies for your brand, get in touch with us at

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