One of Four Things That Make Listeners Crazy About Podcasts


A recording of NuVoodoo’s presentation at Podcast Movement 2022, “Six Things That Listeners Love About Podcasts (and Four That Drive Them Crazy)” will be posted soon at We collected a lot of opinions and a lot of data to build the presentation, starting with a round of qualitative interviews in late July and moving on to a quantitative study with nearly 1,700 respondents who listened to podcasts at least an hour in the prior week, gleaned from a wider universe of 5,000 respondents.

Number two among the “things that drive them (listeners) crazy (about podcasts)” is commercials. We’re well-trained as consumers to recognize commercials – any commercials – as a negative, of course. So, when we asked respondents to agree or disagree that “they have too many commercials in some podcasts,” it was no real surprise that over half agreed.

Complaints about “too many commercials” were worst among the heaviest podcast listeners in our sample – those who’d listened ten hours or more in the past week. In our qualitative interviews we had lots of awareness of the problem of too many commercials, but also strong awareness of the solution. Many remarked about being able to skip through commercials, one quipping, “You can sense ‘em coming once they get to that little break in most episodes and it’s just like bloop-bloop-bloop – hit that skip thing.”

While it’s easy to complain about commercials, most in our quantitative sample of regular podcast listeners acknowledge they listen to at least some of the commercials – especially those where the hosts get to talk about the product or service being advertised. In all, about two-thirds of the sample listen to at least some commercials.

Among those who skip commercials, some skip through all commercials, but more say they skip through the “pre-recorded commercials” (that don’t sound like they’re part of the podcast). While programmatic insertions seem to be great to advertisers looking for placements in podcasts, those commercials that don’t sound like they’re an organic part of the episode stick out like sore thumbs.

Despite the problems, our data suggest that podcast ads are effective. Fully 38% of the sample say they’ve been influenced to make a purchase because of an ad they heard on a podcast. Adding on those who say they’d investigated a product or service they’d heard advertised and a total of 66% have taken an action because of an ad in a podcast.

We heard about product explorations and purchases among those we talked to in our qualitative interviews, one citing a mattress purchase and setting up a personal website hosted by Squarespace – both prompted by podcast commercials. While podcast listeners complain about commercials, there’s obvious affection for many hosts and strong acceptance (and even interest) in the products and services they hawk in the “live” endorsement-type spots they read. Broadcast radio has enjoyed success with live reads and endorsements from personalities. Clearly, this type of commercial is not out of date by a long shot.