Podcast listening by US Latinos is on the rise. Are ad dollars following suit?

Execs from podcast networks focused on Latino audiences say brands are showing interest, but there are still obstacles to address.
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Photos: Getty Images, Latina Podcasters, Uforia Podcast, Tres Cuentos Literary Podcast

· 4 min read

You heard it at Podcast Upfronts. You heard it at Advertising Week. Podcasting isn’t just for white men anymore.

Listenership among one demographic in particular is on the rise, according to a recent Edison Research report commissioned by Adonde Media, LWC Studios, Libsyn, PRX, and SXM Media.

About three in five (59%) US Latino adults have listened to a podcast at least once, up from 45% in 2020 and 56% in 2021. Roughly one in three (34%) had listened to a podcast in the last month.

The report also found that Latino listeners who said they’ve listened to a podcast in the last month are engaged with the ads they hear:

  • 55% said they’ve made a purchase as a result of hearing a podcast sponsorship or ad
  • 52% said they’ve used promo codes they heard on a podcast
  • 66% have recommended a product to friends and family after hearing about it on a podcast

But are advertisers sold on monetizing these audiences? Podcast execs and ad buyers told Marketing Brew that conversations (and money) are moving in the right direction, but there’s still work to be done.

Rising tides

Podcast listeners still skew white and male: 53% of monthly listeners are men, and 59% are white, according to Edison Research’s 2022 Infinite Dial report, though those shares are growing smaller. Equal shares of monthly podcast listeners are African American and Hispanic (16% each), according to the Edison report.

But still, multicultural networks don’t have listenership numbers on par with major generalized podcast networks, which could be an obstacle for getting bigger brands involved, said Elsie Escobar, director of community and content at Libsyn.

“Even the most popular, very specific Latino networks or Black networks are still striving to build their audiences, and even if they’re healthy and engaged and people are listening and sharing and they get all of this social proof and they actually get the ROI from advertisers, the numbers are still not on par,” she said.

There are positive signs for Latino podcasters, though. Since multicultural podcast network Pod Digital Media acquired the exclusive rights to sell ads into the Latina Podcasters Network and Latino Pods in March, McDonald’s and Infiniti have run ads within the network, according to Gary Coichy, Pod Digital Media’s founder and head of partnerships.

Agua Media, a newly launched podcast network focused on US Latino listeners, is already in talks with Fortune 500 companies about sponsorships, said Chief Strategy Officer Nick Panella, including investment banks and health companies, added founder, president, and CEO Rick Sanchez.

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“There’s absolutely a lot of interest in the Hispanic opportunity by many advertisers,” said Jesus Lara, president of Univision Radio, including its Uforia Audio Network. “There’s other advertisers that will need a little more education.”

“Authenticity has to be paramount”

Rita Bautista, founder and CEO of the Latina Podcasters Network and Latino Pods, said the 40+ podcasts in the network collectively broke six figures in ad revenue so far this year, having worked with brands including Ulta Beauty, Pfizer, and Gold Peak. She said the network does accept prerecorded ads but generally prefers host reads for the sake of authenticity.

“US Hispanics”—or the Latin/a/o/x/e community, to use Bautista’s term—“are more prone to interacting with a brand or a company if it is being promoted to them by a Latino,” she said.

The Edison report backs that up: 74% of respondents who listened to a podcast hosted by Latinos in the past month said they had recommended a product to friends and family after hearing about it on a podcast. But if brands want to see that sort of success, “authenticity has to be paramount” when it comes to ad creative, Lara said.

That could mean getting creative with language. Coichy said Pod Digital Media has worked with McDonald’s on a sort of “Spanglish” approach in some of its campaigns, and that others have been receptive to mixing languages at their suggestion.

Lisa Jacobs, VP of media operations and analytics at radio and podcast agency Ad Results Media, said she advises brands to avoid writing copy in another language “if you don’t have someone fluent” to help. (If that seems self-explanatory, Jacobs said Google Translate has caused issues on this front in the past.) For the most part, brands have followed that advice, according to Bautista.

“The needle is moving,” she said. “It’s not moving as quickly as it needs to be, but…I do commend these companies that we've been working with for trying their best, and making sure that they are working on these efforts, and asking for feedback, and looking towards the right types of networks to advertise with in order to get this right.”

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