NPR Takes Center Stage at IAB Podcast Upfront

September 2016

Media insiders gathered in New York this month to talk about the promising podcasting medium. As with most things related to audio, NPR was there in a big way with favorite podcast hosts, its newest program How I Built Thisa lighthearted roast of two ad execs, and more.

NPR was one of 12 publishers at the IAB Podcast Upfront, now in its second year, showcasing their podcasting chops to the advertising community. The presentation featured the latest research on the diverse, loyal podcast audience; fresh new content; and proof of podcasting’s essential role in media plans. 

It’s this kind of essential: 82% of NPR listeners take action after hearing a sponsorship message on an NPR podcast (NPR Podcast User Surveys, Spring 2016).



“The Infinite Expandability of Podcasts”

Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel, hosts of NPR’s hit podcast Invisibilia, MC’d the IAB Podcast Upfront morning session.

The intrepid pair shared fun anecdotes about working with many of the presenters – or in the case of Questlove, reading about his collection of Questlove cardboard cutouts at New York Magazine. They also offered insight into what excites them about podcasting as content makers (according to Rosin, the “infinite expandability of podcasting”), the singular connection they’ve witnessed from listeners, and the growing trend of their peers jumping from print to podcasting.  


NPR Tops the List of Podcast Publishers 

It’s not just content makers and journalists who are energized by the promise of what podcasting has to offer. Audiences are eagerly discovering podcasting, and with the help of expert publishers like NPR, more brands are finding smart ways to connect in this space. 

Anya Grundmann and Guy Raz talk NPR podcasts during the IAB Podcast Upfront

Anya Grundmann and Guy Raz talk NPR podcasts during the IAB Podcast Upfront

As Anya Grundmann, NPR’s head of Programming, and Guy Raz, host of NPR’s TED Radio Hour and the new favorite How I Built This, explained, NPR’s ten plus years in podcasting coupled with its expertise in audio programming have resulted in a supremely successful podcast program preferred by many listeners. NPR podcasts are heard by more than 8.5 million listeners each month. And with more than 61 million monthly streams and downloads (Podtrac, August 2016), NPR has been ranked the number one podcast publisher on Podtrac’s “Top 10” list since it debuted in May 2016.  

It doesn’t hurt that there’s some true affection out there for the brand too: NPR is the second most cited media property on profiles.

“Podcasting is at the center of what we do,” Grundmann explained as she described the strategy behind NPR’s innovative leadership in the medium – standout content, strong cross-platform footprints including broadcast, and a uniquely responsive audience. Raz and Grundmann presented a strong pipeline of new NPR content including Raz’s How I Built This – a new podcast which shot to the top of the iTunes charts in its first week – and The Big Listen, about the business of podcasting, and forthcoming pilots on personal finance and the environment. 


“NPR is producing a wide range of content, from the less-formal and more-frequent Politics [Podcast] to the highly-produced shows like Invisibilia. The other trend… is integrating more podcast content into our popular drive-time radio programs, which reach large audiences.
– NPM General Manager Bryan Moffett, MediaVillage, September 2016


The (Light) Roast

To showcase NPR talent in action, host and comedian Ophira Eisenberg of NPR’s Ask Me Another moderated a special IAB Podcast Upfront edition of the favorite quiz game “2 Truths & A Lie.” 

Media and advertising veterans Jack Myers and Steve Katelman faced off as contestants for the game and duked it out as they were quizzed on their podcasting and advertising prowess. The prize? Bragging rights and a chance to win a great piece of NPR swag for the audience of media planners, buyers and brand marketers. (Spoiler: Myers won by a landslide.) 


Aligning with NPR Podcasts

The future of podcasting is bright. And with a robust programming pipeline, innovative approaches to content delivery, and a growing, loyal listener base, NPR remains a dynamic force in defining it for fans and brands as well.

73% of NPR podcast users hold a higher opinion of a company when they find out it supports public radio podcasts (NPR Podcast User Surveys, Spring 2016)

The opportunity to align your brand with NPR podcast users is not one to be missed. Learn more about podcasting, NPR’s leadership in the field, and why this moment is an important one for brands and listeners alike, here.