Engaging emotions, building trust: Why podcast advertising is the next great opportunity for brands

29 October 2021

“Feel the story.”

That's the tagline at Wondery, Amazon Music’s premium podcast studio known for character-driven, binge-worthy stories and an immersive approach to emotionally driven storytelling.

Jen Sargent, CEO of Wondery, knows that this tagline is what sets them apart. “We know the power of telling a good story or creating a feeling of connection with a host, as if you are sitting across the table chatting with a friend,” she shared with our virtual audience at unBoxed.

During her session at unBoxed, which took place virtually from 26 October through to 27 October, Sargent talked about the power of podcasts as a storytelling medium, as well as the potential of the growing podcast advertising industry.

quoteUpAudio stories are an incredibly effective way to connect – because they force you to use your imagination – and when emotions are triggered during a story, people remember.quoteDown
– Jen Sargent, CEO, Wondery,

The growing global podcast audience

Listeners around the world are drawn to this type of immersive audio storytelling. Half of US adults ages 35-44 – and 60% of US adults ages 18 to 34 – are monthly podcast listeners.1 By 2025, eMarketer estimates that there will be over 22.4 million monthly podcast listeners in Germany, 16.5 million in Japan and 158.9 million in China.2

“Sometimes, new industries try to change consumer behaviour or get consumers to adopt new devices or technology. But the beauty of podcasting is that most people already have a phone and have already been trained to expect content on demand,” Sargent said. “Because it’s so easy to access, anyone can start listening to podcasts – from younger adults to Millennials to Boomers. They listen when they drive, travel, exercise, walk the dog or do the chores.”

Sargent believes that there are two characteristics that make podcasts connect with audiences. “First, listeners feel a personal connection with the host – they think of them as a trusted friend,” she explained. “Second, listeners feel an emotional connection with our immersive audio storytelling. Audio stories are an incredibly effective way to connect – because they force you to use your imagination – and when emotions are triggered during a story, people remember.”

With a growing audience around the world, podcasts must expand their content to include all kinds of stories and storytellers. “We’re committed to being inclusive in our shows,” Sargent said. “In any story we tell, we carefully consider how we are representing people, communities and their perspectives on life. And we do that by working with a wide range of diverse writers, producers and hosts across all genres to reach our current audience, and expand into new audiences in the podcast space.”

The emotional impact of podcast advertising

As the audience for podcasts grows, so does the podcast advertising industry. US podcast advertising is estimated to grow from $701.0 million in 2019 to $1.33 billion in 2021.3

But how do audiences respond to podcast advertising?

  • They remember more: Wondery commissioned a custom research study at the end of 2019 to understand how listeners feel when hearing ads on Wondery podcasts. “Podcast ads were more memorable than social media ads and they were more effective at building brand trust – especially towards the end of the ads,” Sargent shared.4
  • They feel more: In 2021, Wondery worked with research firm MindProber to study the impact of audio entertainment on human emotion by looking at biometric responses. The research showed that podcasting produced greater emotional impact than general TV entertainment or live radio.5

“The power of our stories extends beyond pop culture, and resonates with audiences from all ages and backgrounds,” Sargent said. “This presents an unmatched opportunity for advertisers to connect with our listeners on a deeper, emotional level.”

The power of podcast advertising is that it helps brands make meaningful connections with audiences who truly "feel the story."

Register now to watch all of the unBoxed sessions, and follow our full coverage to learn more about our new advertising and marketing tools and dig into the main ideas discussed at Amazon Ads’ annual conference.

Learn more about audio marketing.


1 eMarketer, April 2021, US
2 eMarketer, July 2021, WW
3 eMarketer, April 2021, US
4 Wondery and NeuroLab, “Your brain on podcasts”, 2019, US
5 Wondery and MindProber, 2021, US