The power of pre-rolls: very effective message delivery with limited media budget

Podcast consumption is booming, but it’s not translating into advertising euros just yet. NRC Media is taking the lead and mapping out the power of advertising in relation to the medium. Together with Mindshare, the media company is publishing the first large-scale study on the impact of a pre-roll on a podcast.

Podcasting has been the fastest-growing medium over the past five years. Consumers are listening en masse to podcasts, with media consumption time continuing to increase. Yet there is a strong imbalance between the time consumers spend listening to podcasts and the advertising euros flowing into this popular medium. “It’s a bit like the initial years of the internet,” says Madelon Fortuin, commercial director of NRC Media. “Back then, advertisers also had to get used to a young medium.”

Maximum attention

Although much of the talk about the various media focuses on podcasting, there has not been a comprehensive study that demonstrates the impact of podcast pre-rolls. “After all, what does this medium type actually do for an advertising brand? When you get to deliver your brand message just before a listener’s favourite podcast, that is the moment when time and attention are at their highest. Intuitively, we all feel that this will have an impact. But actual evidence to support this claim had been elusive until now.” The initial results of the impact study are promising and demonstrate that a pre-roll campaign run on a single medium can potentially create high impact on its own – even with little media pressure.

During the study, five pre-roll campaigns were measured within the NRC podcast network. The results of the 0- and 1-measurements were very positive in terms of the impact of the campaigns and provided some important new insights:

Podcast pre-rolls produced significant communication impacts during a mere four-week campaign period and a limited media budget. This was also true for large and established brands.

Pre-rolls scored high on ad recall and message delivery: 68% of respondents said they got the message the pre-roll was conveying.

Pre-roll ads were highly rated with an average score of 7.3 and scored very high in terms of clarity about the advertiser and message, 75% and 72% respectively. This is considerably higher than the benchmark figures for regular radio, for example.

At a listening frequency of at least once a week, campaign recall and message delivery are significantly higher for all measured campaigns.

The study shows significant shifts on specific brand variables: for example, the image of an established food brand is significantly better after the campaign (brand image received a positive boost from 18% to 27%).

Frequency matters

The new insights are remarkable because the impacts occur among a target audience that is increasingly difficult to reach, partly due to increasingly fragmented media consumption. In that context, Fortuin says that the opportunities offered by the NRC podcast network and the promising initial figures about their impact are very valuable. “The podcast has actually become an integral part of the media mix and should be top of mind for every marketer.”

NRC podcasts reach a relatively young (46% are under 35), highly-engaged, highly-educated, high-income target audience. Almost half listen to NRC podcasts very frequently: weekly or even daily. And that while this audience is normally hard to attain and consumes a lot of content in a more superficial way.

René Aarden, business intelligence director of Mindshare, emphasises the importance of this high frequency. “The study shows that all impacts are even stronger at a high exposure frequency. This indicates the potential of podcast advertising, making the medium perfectly suited as a communication device for efficiently and successfully conveying your message to the listener.”

For advertiser Achmea, the study confirms that purchased pre-rolls land in the right place. As Joeke van der Meulen, labour market marketing consultant at Achmea, puts it: “For us, this study has confirmed that podcast adverts make a solid contribution to our ambition to improve Achmea’s attractiveness as an employer. Indeed, results show that the campaign has caused a significant increase in the attractiveness of Achmea as an employer (up 64% from 50%). Furthermore, at a high exposure frequency, the campaign was able to increase advertising awareness and brand awareness of Achmea as an employer, a unique result that confirms for us that podcast is a very successful medium for advertising.”


The result of the collaboration between NRC Media and Mindshare is the first study of this scale on the effectiveness of pre-roll advertising in podcasts. In the coming period, NRC Media will continue to monitor the impact of pre-rolls and share the results with partners. What is already clear is that the high frequency of listening to NRC podcasts offers the pre-roll advertiser the possibility of multiple exposures. Thus, communication effects are within reach. Fortuin: “Our listeners not only have a strong bond with podcast as a medium type but also with the NRC brand. They are fans of both the medium type and the journalistic NRC podcasts. We offer advertisers the opportunity to reach this high-quality target audience with a high exposure frequency.”