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Hot Pod Insider

Insider September 8, 2022 — Podcast advertising could hit $6 billion in 2026

New research is bullish on programmatic advertising — and iHeart’s future.

It’s a big news day, so I’ll keep this one short. Today: new projections for podcasting’s growth and industry moves.

Programmatic advertising could make podcasting a $6 billion industry by 2026

A new note from B. Riley analyst Daniel Day, who covers radio companies like iHeartMedia and Audacy, is optimistic about the growth of the podcasting industry. If podcasters and publishers continue to embrace programmatic advertising, Day projects that total ad spend would hit around $4.2 billion in 2024, roughly in line with IAB’s projections earlier this year, and near $6.3 billion in 2026.

Programmatic advertising is tricky because the data advertisers have on podcast listeners is still limited, and a lot of it is very poorly implemented (i.e., putting mismatched, if not downright inappropriate, ads in a given show). But one area Day says has improved is geo-targeting, which could help bring local advertisers into the space. 

“Small and mid-sized businesses really have almost entirely sat out podcast advertising to date,” Day told Hot Pod. “These advances in geo-targeting and programmatic allow mom and pops and local, regional businesses to access this medium in a way that they couldn’t before, absent reaching out to like some local sports or news podcast. Now, they can target audiences listening to some big national podcast.”

And according to Day, iHeartMedia is in a particularly good spot to reap those benefits. The audio giant had a 17 percent market share of podcast advertising in 2021 (which is a lot for such a fragmented industry) and could grab 20 percent by 2026. Day credits the company’s library of evergreen content, sophisticated ad marketplace it introduced this year, and high audience engagement (iHeart listeners download an average of 14.5 episodes a month, according to Podtrac data, compared to an average of 8.4 and 9.4, respectively, for competitors Wondery and NPR).

iHeartMedia is also fundamentally changing as a company. It has invested far more in podcasting than radio competitors like Audacy and Cumulus, to the point where traditional radio could become a minority part of its business in several years. In 2021, podcasting accounted for 7 percent of its revenue, while radio accounted for 65 percent. By 2026, Day says that podcasting will make up nearly a quarter of the business, while radio will fall to 48 percent.

Hopefully, the behemoths like iHeart won’t be the only ones to benefit. If geo-targeting really can get local businesses to spend their ad dollars on podcasting (which is a big if), some of those $6 billion will end up in the hands of independent podcasters, perhaps ones that aren’t quite big enough for big advertisers to care about. 


Summer’s over, baby, and that means people are starting new jobs. Here are some of the biggies:

  • Mike Mignano, of Anchor and Spotify, is joining Lightspeed Venture Partners. This is not a massive shock since he indicated in the spring that VC would be his next step after Spotify. The Silicon Valley firm is not (yet) a major force in audio but has invested in tech companies like Snap, GrubHub, and Epic Games.
  • Marielle Segarra, formerly a reporter and fill-in host at Marketplace, is the new host of the NPR advice podcast Life Kit. Andee Tagle, an associate producer on the show, is being promoted to reporter-producer.
  • Programmatic ad firm AdTonos has brought on Alex Faust, Spotify’s former head of international sales, and Pierre Naggar, former global SVP of demand, as board advisors.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow!