First look: how is coronavirus changing podcast advertising?

We analyzed the ads detected by Magellan AI during the last broadcast week to see if we could pick up on any emerging trends.

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Photo by Ed Rojas on Unsplash

Outside of the podcast ecosystem, advertisers are reacting to the uncertainty brought on by coronavirus. Some advertisers, like Nike, have seized the opportunity to launch campaigns featuring messaging that supports social distancing. Other advertisers are pulling back on marketing budgets, causing Facebook and Twitter to revise advertising revenue guidance.

We asked the question: how is the podcast advertising market changing in response to coronavirus? To get an early indication, we analyzed ad detections on podcasts for the broadcast week of Monday 3/16 to Sunday 3/22.

Establishing a baseline

First, a disclaimer: week-to-week ad detections can vary for good and regular reasons. Some advertisers routinely operate on a “3 weeks on, 1 week off” model — so it’s not unusual to see some advertisers disappear for a week here and there.

To establish what’s usual for each industry, we calculated the average number of ad detections for that industry on the top 3,000 podcasts over first 11 broadcast weeks of 2020. For this analysis, we excluded ads detected on back catalog episodes of popular podcasts.

Which advertisers are doubling down?

We picked up more ads than usual in a variety of industries. Here are a few highlights:

VPN (+144%)

While last week’s jump was significant, we’ve been seeing increased activity from advertisers in the VPN category over the last few months. Last week, both ExpressVPN and HMA VPN ramped up advertising volume.

Household Products (+45%)

This includes cleaning products, which have been popular among shoppers. Advertisers like Cleancult and CLR each added new podcasts to their rosters last week.

Alcohol (+13%)

Brands like Bud Light Seltzer continued with an advertising campaign that started with 40 podcasts in February. Companies like Firstleaf and Storypoint Wines touted online ordering and discounted shipping in ads last week.

Which advertisers are pulling back?

We picked up fewer ads than usual in some industries, too. These three industries had some of the most significant contractions:

Travel (-73%)
Live Entertainment (-44%)
Gambling (-29%)

The pullback by advertisers in Travel and Live Entertainment doesn’t seem as surprising, given that at least 175 million residents are being urged to stay at home. Gambling includes sports betting companies, and many sporting events have been canceled.

What’s next?

We’ll continue to closely monitor changes in podcast advertising activity over the next few weeks, and share updates on macro trends here. If you and your business would benefit from a more granular look at advertising in the podcast space — drop us a line at

Magellan AI creates tools that help marketers at brands like SimpliSafe and ThredUP spend intelligently on podcast advertising. Podcast publishers like WNYC and Audioboom use Magellan to track advertisers spending money in the podcast space.

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Magellan AI helps leading podcast networks like WNYC, Gimlet Media and Wondery grow revenue. Discover 4,000+ brands advertising on podcasts at

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