Podcast listeners in tune with brand ads

When actor Dax Shepard tells the audience of his popular podcast that they should buy a Chrysler Pacifica, they tend to listen more than people who just see an ad for the minivan on TV or in a newspaper.

That’s why Chrysler has sponsored more than 30 episodes of “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard,” which averages 1.4 million downloads per show, since 2018. It’s one of an increasing number of automotive sponsorships in the podcasting genre, which is proving to have the kinds of listeners whom most brands covet: young, environmentally conscious, educated and affluent.

A Nielsen study this year found that half of vehicle shoppers who heard about products during a podcast visited a website for more information. More than 55 percent of podcast listeners have a household income of more than $75,000 a year, compared with 41 percent of U.S. households overall, according to Nielsen, which concluded that comedy programming appeals most to online auto shoppers.

On many podcasts — digital audio recordings for which people can sign up to have new episodes automatically delivered — ads are often read by the host, which can help build a connection between a brand and engaged listeners.

“It’s not just about the message or the offer or the availability or timing. It really is how it’s woven into the podcast show that can have a great impact on the results of the campaign,” Tony Hereau, Nielsen’s vice president of cross- platform insights, told Automotive News. “Even just the nuance around one word that a host can say could sway the results. So it really comes down to some hosts are better at delivering that content advertising and weaving it into the show so that it’s not as obtrusive.”

Chrysler’s affiliation with “Armchair Expert” began shortly after the show started in 2018, when it became that year’s most downloaded new podcast on Apple’s iTunes platform. Shepard, who had previously appeared in a Pacifica ad with characters from “Sesame Street,” is from the Detroit area and is knowledgeable about cars.

Chrysler, looking to speak to young parents, said it likes that podcasts allow people to listen at their leisure, whether in the car, at home or on vacation. It said the medium provides “more flexibility and a more meaningful message of the benefits of the vehicle from the host’s personal experience.”

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