ARM recently completed a 14 month study of how podcast ads perform based on the number of ads in a commercial break. The analysis looked at over $80 million in ad spend and compared performance among different buckets of ad counts in a commercial break. 

  • Our study found that podcast ads performed best when there were only 2 ads in a commercial break 
    • Ad breaks with 2 ads performed 12% better than those with 3 & 4 ads.
    • There was no significant difference in performance in ad breaks with 3 ads and 4 ads.
  • Once ad breaks got to 5 ads, performance started to drop off significantly
    • Ad breaks with 5 ads performed 30% worse than those with 3 & 4 ads and 46% worse than breaks with 2 ads.
  • The average CPA for ads in a 6 ad break was over 2x as high as ads in 2 ad breaks.

These findings suggest that podcast listeners are more likely to skip or ignore ads when there are too many of them. When there are only 2 ads in a break, listeners are more likely to give each ad their full attention. This leads to better ad recall and conversion rates.

Here are some possible explanations for why ad performance declines as the number of ads in a break increases:

  • Listeners may become fatigued with too many ads.
  • Listeners may start to tune out the ads or skip them altogether.
  • Listeners may perceive the podcast as being more commercial and less valuable if it has too many ads. 

Overall, our study suggests that advertisers should aim for no more than 2-4 ads per commercial break in order to maximize ad performance. 

The chart below shows performance by ad spots indexed against 2 spot breaks. This shows that breaks with 3 & 4 spots perform slightly worse (14% & 12%) than 2 ad spots, whereas spots 5 - 7 perform significantly worse (46%, 103%, and 90%, respectively) than 2 ad spots.