Podcast Research · January 18, 2021

Podcast Brand Lift Studies

By edisonresearch

To gauge the efficacy of podcast advertising, Edison adopts three different strategies, depending on the most applicable circumstances. We have extensive experience with all three and all of our work is custom—a true partnership between Edison, the advertiser, and (where relevant) the agency. We work with all stakeholders to craft a questionnaire to achieve the brand’s measurement goals and align our work with existing brand measures.

Edison employs the following methodologies, depending on the size of the campaign and audience to be reached. All three methodologies carry roughly the same costs–we select the best tool for the job based on methodology.


  1. Traditional Pre/Post Campaign Research

For this style of research, which works best with existing, well-performing shows and networks, we will run audio solicitations to take a survey in the podcast(s) selected for the campaign. Ideally these are host-read, and do NOT mention the brand in any way. The solicitation will drive respondents to a link to take an online survey hosted on our enterprise survey system. We run this survey twice—once before a campaign begins, and a second time after the flight or some other mutually agreed-to timeline (we typically prefer at least 6 weeks of advertising).

This type of research is a convenience sample, but it is at least an apples-to-apples look at the perceptions of the correct, exposed audience. Significance testing is used to determine if the pre and post populations gave different answers at a level that is determined to not be a chance result. In addition, to account for sample variance between the pre and post studies, we weight both studies to the average of the two. So, if (for example) the Pre were 60% female while the Post were 40% female, we would weight BOTH studies to 50% female, to provide a very simplistic example.

Depending on the popularity of show(s) selected as part of the campaign, we may recommend an incentive to ensure an adequate response rate. This can either be a guaranteed incentive (e.g., an Amazon gift card) for a maximum number of respondents or a sweepstakes where Edison will collect name and email address of each respondent and provide the information of the randomly selected winner. The costs of any incentives are the responsibility of the client.

We do not guarantee a sample size for these studies since they are not “sampled,” per se. We work with the podcast network and/or media buyer to ensure a sufficient sample for both studies to provide significance testing on the results. We provide a complete presentation with all relevant charts and graphs, all hosting and data processing, and questionnaire(s) creation. Edison Research has conducted hundreds of similar studies and the results have been presented to leading agencies and media buyers around the world.


  1. Panel Research

For large campaigns, stretching across multiple podcasts or podcast networks, we are able to employ our large national panel of podcast listeners (which we also tap into for our syndicated Podcast Consumer Research quarterly report.) If an advertising buy is significant enough for it to be feasible, a panel study approach allows us to project the findings across the entire audience for the podcast or network in question, and is the most representative form of podcast research.

Also, in some cases, a “pristine” pre and post process is not possible (e.g. when the brand advertising is already running prior to engaging with Edison, or when the brand is running across multiple networks, which muddies attribution) which makes a panel approach cleaner than a pre/post survey methodology.

For panel-driven studies, we employ a national online survey of Americans 18+ (or whatever demographic is appropriate) who regularly listen to podcasts, and use the same brand questionnaire that we might use for a pre/post study methodology. In a panel study, we will guarantee a sample of podcast listeners, podcast listeners who have likely heard the advertising in question, and non-podcast listeners. We will then be able to gauge the relative impact of the specific podcast ads by comparing brand measures with non-podcast listeners, podcast listeners who do NOT listen to the specific shows/networks that featured the advertising, and an audience of the targeted podcasts who would certainly have been exposed to the ads. Where appropriate, we can also fold in an audio call-out methodology in relevant podcasts, as described above.

For this style of study, all other deliverables are as mentioned above, including presentations to the relevant agency/brand team.


  1. Forced Listening and Controlled Exposure

Finally, in the case of a newly-created branded podcast, advertising on a new show, or other projects with potentially small samples, we engage a “forced listening” approach. For this approach, we recruit a sample of podcast listeners who would at least have an affinity for the programming being tested (e.g. parents of small children for a parenting podcast). The sample is instructed to come to a facility and listen to a half-hour of programming and instructed that they will later be asked what they thought of the show.

In reality, they are also given questions about the advertising and sponsorship messages in the show. This approach, unlike the first two, is strictly qualitative, which means that traditional measures of margin of error or statistical significance really don’t apply. However, this approach does provide directional research where a traditional survey would not be feasible either due to the size of the show’s audience or for a completely new program.

All recruiting, execution, incentives, and facility fees are included in this type of project, in addition to reporting of the results. We have successfully executed and presented these for dozens of agencies and media partners.


Finally, Edison is a custom market research provider with 25 years of service tackling the most challenging research projects, and we have developed many of the current approaches to podcast research in use today. Should none of these approaches completely address a measurement challenge, we’ll develop a new one as needed.

Questions? Email Edison Research SVP Tom Webster at twebster@edisonresearch.com.


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