According to ‘The Infinite Dial’ by Edison Research, podcast listenership in the U.S. has increased to 37% of the population—or 104 million Americans. This number is up from 68 million Americans in 2017. One benefit of this increase in listenership is that healthcare advertisers and marketers have another niche, high-impact audio channel at their disposal.

Additionally, the increase in podcast listenership has been mirrored by the growth of medical podcasts and their audiences.

  • In 2017, “A Survey of Emergency Medicine Residents’ Use of Educational Podcasts” by Jeff Riddell et al. reported that 88.8% of surveyed medical residents listened to educational podcasts at least twice per month.
    • These same responders said that medical podcasts changed their clinical practice.
  • Over 60% of podcast audiences have bought a product after having heard about it in an podcast advertisement.
  • There are over 150 active medical podcasts. The specialty with the largest number of active podcasts is emergency medicine with 28.

In this article, we’ll explain why medical podcasts are set to explode in popularity.

But first, let’s talk about advertising to consumer audiences.

Existing Podcast Advertising Targeting Options

Targeting Content

One way of targeting your audience is by advertising on the podcasts that they are likely to listen to.

This is Midroll’s model. Midroll is a major podcast advertising vendor and lets you target specific shows or categories of shows. For example, if you’re marketing a morning sickness medication, you might target podcasts about pregnancy. Or, if you’re advertising a widely used medical product like an over-the-counter painkiller, you would probably advertise on the whole network to find the lowest cost spots.Target with arrows passing criteria

While podcast content targeting doesn’t guarantee exposure to the correct audience on every listen, it is a surefire way to get listens from your target audience. If you find that pregnancy podcasts don’t have enough listeners, you can cast a bigger net with targeting like “women’s podcasts” and be relatively certain that you will hit your target audience.

Behavioral Podcast Targeting

Other podcast networks offer more sophisticated targeting. AdvertiseCast is a salient example. In addition to category and demographics-based targeting, AdvertiseCast offers behavioral targeting. Along with location, age, gender, and other traits, you can target based on audience browsing behavior.

If an audience member has internet browsing activity that suggests they will be interested in your product, you can follow them to whatever podcast they end up listening to rather than targeting the show and hoping they show up there. Common examples of these categories are “News junkies” or “Film buffs.”

Sound graph

There are also segments can be used for HCP advertising. “Medical Doctors” and “Nurses” are both segments offered by AdvertiseCast.

Usually, however, a healthcare or pharmaceutical advertiser will be wanting to target a specialty like pediatricians or cardiologists.

In such cases, advertising on a continuing education website a better way to go. Producing original content with a partner like Endocrinology Today or Contemporary OB/GYN would could guarantee quality exposure.

HCP Medical Podcast Advertising

There are a few reasons why the medical podcast audience could explode:

  1. Physician burnout

    HCP creating podcast

HCPs have so much work on their hands nowadays that they need to do that they just don’t have time to read medical journals like they used to. Mostly, this has come from increased patient loads and administrative work. Listening to a podcast on a treadmill is a time-efficient way to keep up with medical news. I

  1. A More Connected Generation

The 88.8% listenership of medical residents reported by Riddell is a symptom of a larger trend towards a large podcast audience maturing. The AMA has a weekly podcast, as does the NEJM. The playlists alone for shows like “This Podcast Will Kill You” have 6,000 follows or more. And there is plenty of room and time for expansion.

  1. Medical Education Reform

Stethoscope on book

There is a documented need to redesign continuing medical education in the United States.

The linked document notes that, currently, licensure credits do not seem to increase performance. It asserts that self-assessed activities are actually more effective in conferring lasting knowledge than lectures, even though self-assessed activities don’t count as required credits.

A new system, the document states, should drop the ‘siloed’ areas of accreditation and seek an accreditation system that educates on a national basis and assess learners on a local, team-based level. Along this same train of thought—these strengths will also make podcast education a more attractive option following the COVID pandemic.

Specialty-based podcasts funded by advertising are a great solution to these problems. If professional organizations develop a more uniform system that drops the need for HCPs to attend overly siloed lectures and instead adopts a uniform, self-guided curriculum, then podcasts would be an excellent way for HCPs to stay current. Content creators would have a large audience to serve CME-specific shows to, filling in the rest of the year with news and other content.

Closing Thoughts

For the moment, you’ll have to reach out to medical podcasts individually or through a trusted partner like bfw Advertising. There aren’t enough shows to make great use of behavioral advertising’s strengths and there aren’t enough listeners to generate a clear behavioral category for each specialty.

However, you can still create your own podcast series with your brand as the star. A series with disease state content, content on patient outcomes, and call-in listeners can ask questions and discuss challenges could be a great program. This content would be easy to approach distributor websites and continuing education websites.

Podcast advertising is just one taste of the life sciences industry that we’re keeping an eye on. This blog is dedicated to covering life sciences advertising news, tactics, and developments that are changing the industry. We want to help you solve your life sciences advertising and marketing problems. If you want to hear about a specific topic, leave us a comment below. And, if you haven’t already, hit subscribe to get email notifications when a new articles come out.

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