Blog Post

Host-Read or Prerecorded Ads: What’s the Right Mix in Your Campaign?

10/05/2021 - Sierra Ducey

In the spring of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic first started, digital audio took a significant hit. Because people weren’t tuning in during their commutes to and from work and school, traditionally a primary source of streaming time, digital audio engagement and usage drastically decreased. Industry experts quickly predicted that this decline would continue throughout the year. However, the story soon shifted. 

In recent years, people have swarmed to TV streaming and social media (the timeframe in which digital audio saw the hit). However, as time went on, consumers began shifting and diversifying their media habits to include digital audio and gaming. As consumers started to adapt to their new routines, digital audio listening behavior and usage changed. People began listening to digital audio while working and going to school from home. So rather than digital audio usage decreasing, it simply changed. 

Spotify and Pandora, for example, saw time spent streaming audio during the day and on weekdays via smart speakers and smart TVs increase. There was also an unexpected spike in long-form audio. Overall, these consumer behavior changes netted the opposite of what experts initially predicted – rather than digital audio usage decreasing in 2020, the average time a consumer spent listening to digital audio increased 8.3%

As we reached the end of 2021, it was clear that this trend hadn’t slowed down. Instead, it was heralding a turning point in the world of audio. Just as TV streaming surpassed traditional cable viewing in the United States in 2021, digital audio has dethroned its traditional counterparts. 50.8% of US adults’ total audio time was spent listening via digital services – the first time it has surpassed traditional radio.  

So, even as life began to slowly resemble pre-pandemic behavior, the question remained: why hadn’t the usage of digital audio slowed or reversed?

In large part, this is due to the growing popularity of podcasts. By the end of 2021, the number of monthly US podcast listeners will increase by 10.1% year-over-year to 117.8 million. However, not only is the number of consumers listening to podcasts growing, the avid or regular podcast listeners are listening more frequently and for more extended periods. Over ⅓ of Americans listen to at least one podcast every month, and of those podcast listeners, 82.4% of them listen to podcasts for over 7 hours every week. All in all, this creates a great opportunity for podcast hosts and producers, which makes an excellent opportunity for advertisers. 

The Benefits of Podcast Advertising

As podcasts continue to grow in popularity, hosts and producers (“podcasters”) will look for ways to monetize their channels. In turn, advertisers have unique opportunities to reach listeners with ads embedded in the podcast content.

There are many benefits advertisers will see when investing in podcast advertising, including:

  1. Reach a younger audience. The average age of broadcast radio listeners is 47, whereas, for podcast listeners, that drops to 34. Additionally, in 2020, just under half of 12-34-year-olds listened to a podcast at least monthly. 
  2. Podcast listeners are receptive to ads. 54% of podcast “super listeners”* stated that hearing an ad while listening to a podcast makes them more likely to purchase a product.
  3. Podcast Listeners are engaged. These same super-listers said that they pay more attention to podcast advertisements than any other form of media. 

* The term “super listener” came from an Edison Study and is a group defined as respondents who listen to an average of five hours or more podcasts each week.

Finding the Best Podcast Ad Format for your brand

Podcast advertising offers unique benefits for brands; however, each creative ad format provides its respective benefits. With both host-read and prerecorded ads, advertisers can target listeners by genre, geographically, or device type. However, these two different formats offer a unique listening experience for consumers, and thus, it’s important to understand the differences, benefits, and drawbacks. 

Host-Read Ads

As the name indicates, host-read ads are live-read podcast ads read by the podcast host(s) during the recording of a podcast. The ad is often delivered without a script and becomes a permanent part of the podcast episode, therefore it is typically a bit longer than prerecorded spots because the host provides storytelling from their perspective.



  • Smaller reach since you are limited to the number of podcasts that can be played during. 
  • Less control over the content around your brand since you are relying on the host.

Prerecorded Ads

Pre-produced or prerecorded podcast ads are similar to a traditional radio spot. They are either sponsor-produced or host-read in advance using a script. These ads are then added to the podcast post-production. 


  • More control over brand or product messaging.
  • Ad placements are lower cost to produce.
  • Greater reach and performance transparency.


  • These ads tend to be more disruptive and don’t create as native of a listening experience.

If you need a refresher on the perks of host-read vs. prerecorded podcast ads, keep our “Podcast Ad Format Cheat Sheet” handy. Download it here. 

What is the right ad mix for your brand? 

As with all digital advertising initiatives, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to podcast advertising. When investing in this ad format, the ideal scenario would be to incorporate a mix of both host-read and prerecorded ads. Advertisers can run an A/B test to track performance to see which type resonates best with your audience. If you are offering a promotion or discount in your ad, designate different landing pages for the different formats to see which one has better engagement and conversions.

Many advertisers haven’t made the jump over to digital audio, or specifically, podcast advertising. So, if you know your consumers fall within podcast listener groups, you have a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve, and put your brand in front of a captive audience. 

Digilant’s Digital Audio Solutions

At Digilant, we offer digital audio advertising solutions across traditional, satellite, and streaming radios, as well as podcasts. We have partnerships with leading global audio providers such as Adswizz, which provides our clients a worldwide presence and relatively unlimited reach. We have access to thousands of premium stations that offer direct, programmatic, and marketplace buys. 

Additionally, as an omni-media digital advertising provider, we offer our clients unique solutions to enhance their digital audio advertising, such as: 

  • Creative services such as the production of audio spots
  • Sequential messaging to retarget audio listening with video, native, or display banners. 
  • Digital media, streaming, and audio advertising all run through the same platform.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of podcast advertising with Digilant? We’re interested in discussing how we can help you reach your goals. Let’s talk.

Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about Digilant.