Cheat Sheet: Measuring Podcasts at All Stages of the Funnel

Paul Riismandel

Let's say you're running a podcast ad campaign to promote a brand new flavor in your line of delicious seltzers. You've heard the ads and they sound great—authentic, enthusiastic, and hitting all the right copy points. It sure sounds like they'll be a success, but you know you need to rely on more than just your gut. 

The good news is that there are many options to show how podcast ads are hitting the mark. The question isn't "can we measure it?" as much as, "how do we measure it?"  Before we can know if a campaign is hitting its target, we need to know what the target is. So, the first thing to figure out is your objective (or KPI). Knowing this gives you the power to pick the right method (tool) to measure performance.

Let's go back to that new seltzer flavor as an example to show different objectives within the sales funnel, which can ultimately lead to different ways of measurement:

Upper-Funnel Objectives: Build awareness and make sure listeners know all about that tasty new flavor. 

Middle-Funnel Objectives: Encourage listeners to learn more about the seltzer and engage more, perhaps by participating in a contest or promotion. Get them close to purchase. 

Lower-Funnel Objectives: Turn that awareness and consideration into action or a conversion. This is all about driving sales and getting customers in store to buy that new seltzer.

Different Stages of the Funnel = Different Metrics for Measurement

Some methods allow us to measure two stages of the funnel, but no single tool really captures all three by itself. For instance, a brand lift survey is great for measuring awareness (top of the funnel), and also can capture if listeners say they want to “learn more” (middle funnel). But it isn't good at measuring an actual purchase at the bottom of the funnel.

By comparison, most attribution methods, which are great at measuring lower-funnel conversions, don’t show us awareness or recall. This is why we need to match our objectives to our measurement tools. Let’s take a closer look. 

KPI: Brand Recall, Awareness, Message Association (Upper-Funnel)
Tool: Brand Lift Study
Our Media Partners: Nielsen, Kantar Millward Brown

Here, listeners are first exposed to a podcast containing an ad, then take a survey that asks them what brands they remember from the program and questions about the messaging. A separate set of listeners, who were not exposed to the ad, takes a matching survey, and we compare the results. Any positive difference among the exposed listeners we call "lift," showing that the podcast ad resulted in them having greater awareness or recall, for instance, than those who weren’t exposed.

KPI: Consideration, Intent (Middle-Funnel)
Tool: Brand Lift Study
Our Media Partners: Kantar Millward Brown, Nielsen

Using the same method described for the upper-funnel measures, we can also ask questions about listeners' intent to find out if they’re likely to seek more info, consider a purchase,  recommend an advertised product or brand, and more. This tool is a great fit for a brand campaign that’s trying to motivate consumers down the funnel. 

KPI: E-commerce (Middle-Funnel)
Tool: Online Attribution
Our Media Partners: Claritas, LeadsRX, Podsights

As the name implies, attribution platforms allow us to attribute an online “action” to exposure of a podcast ad. Actions include most things that a consumer might do on a website. If your mid-funnel goal is to engage listeners to learn more or participate in an online promotion, then online attribution can work well. 

Tip: It's important that the online call-to-action is the centerpiece in order to reflect campaign performance. The matching KPI should be something like web landings, requesting additional information or downloading a white paper, and the creative should be focused on motivating listeners to take that initial action.

KPI: Web E-Commerce (Lower-Funnel)
Tool: Online Attribution
Our Media Partners: Claritas, LeadsRX, Podsights

Lower-funnel online attribution can measure actions like registering an account or making a purchase. This allows us to see how many registrations or purchases are attributed to a campaign, then report a conversion rate. It’s even possible to attribute revenue, and therefore compute return on ad spend (ROAS).

KPI: App E-commerce (Lower-Funnel)
Tool: App Attribution
Our Media Partners: Claritas, Podsights

In today’s smartphone world, we know that not all e-commerce happens on a website. With app attribution, we can measure the impact that podcast ads have on app installations and in-app actions. This typically relies on a third-party analytics platform (e.g. Appsflyer, Adjust, Kochava) to provide data back to the partner. 

KPI: Offline Visitation (Lower-Funnel)
Tool: Geofencing / Footfall Attribution
Our Media Partners: Cuebiq, Foursquare/Placed, 9th Decimal

Want to get your listeners in your store? This method measures how many real-world visits to a physical location can be attributed to a podcast campaign (and in some cases, total revenue). It relies heavily on scale, in terms of campaign reach, overall locations measured, and foot traffic. We need to make sure there's enough data to provide reliable and significant results—and our SXM Media team can share the best strategy for success.

Returning to our new seltzer flavor, let's match tools to some different possible objectives:

Objective: Build awareness of the new flavor
Tool: Brand Lift Study

Objective: Drive participation in a related contest promotion
Tool: Online Attribution

Objective: Drive online sales on the brand's website
Tool: Online Attribution

Objective: Drive sales at a partner brick-and-mortar retailer
Tool: Geo/Footfall attribution

Even though podcast measurement seems relatively new, all of these tools are mature and well-tested in the space. That said, we're constantly working with third-party partners to push the boundaries. 

Because the podcast industry is moving so quickly, if there's a type of measurement you need that you don't see on the list, don't hesitate to ask our SXM Media sales team.