Advertising

Podcasts are providing a safe space for all women, and the brands who support them

Podcasts are providing a safe space for all women, and the brands who support them

Written by Amber DavidInternational Account Manager2022.03.31

Earlier this year, I came across a study that struck a chord. A breastfeeding workshop, underwear for postpartum comfort, education on sexual consent — all had been featured in ads rejected by Facebook, according to a report from the Center for Intimacy Justice.

The nonprofit organization surveyed employees and leaders at companies focused on issues related to women’s sexual health, including pelvic pain, menopause, menstruation and fertility. All 60 companies had experienced their ads being rejected, and about half even said their accounts had been suspended at one point or another.

In most cases, the ads were flagged as containing “adult content” or promoting “adult products and services”. Ads for men’s sex products — with what was described as having suggestive imagery and wording — were not penalised. 

When I think of podcasts, on the other hand, I think of a medium where such conversations are protected and welcomed — where people who identify as women are free to discuss important, valid issues, and where they have a safe platform to engage with others on what matters to them. 

Podcasts feel like the best place available for people who identify as women to talk about sex, sexual health and wellness openly, honestly, and without filter or censorship — in some ways taking on the huge gap left by the closure of so many women's lifestyle magazines.

But can I back that up with hard data? Is my gut feeling true in practice? To find out, we surveyed 1,000 podcast listeners in the US and the UK — both people who identify as women and men — and asked for their perceptions of podcasting as a platform for more sensitive and less-spoken-about topics.

Reassuringly, and across all demographics, the findings were extremely positive. 92% of podcast listeners said they’re open to hearing such conversations, while 57% said they fully expect podcast hosts and guests to cover these sorts of subjects.

It’s so empowering to be part of an industry, and a company like Acast, that actively supports and champions these important conversations. For our podcasters, we help their stories reach listeners absolutely everywhere — thanks to the open ecosystem — and we will always ensure they retain full creative control over their work.

We also pair them with the right advertisers, to help them make money from their craft — and we recently agreed a partnership with the Unstereotype Alliance, committing to proactively increasing positive portrayals of women, girls and marginalized groups in podcast advertising.

Our survey also found that 38% of podcast listeners expect the ads they hear to cover sensitive and less-spoken-about topics. When asked which subjects in particular they want advertisers to cover, the top five were:

  • Mental health (74%)
  • Money problems and debt (57%)
  • Medical or health problems (54%) 
  • Sexual health (50%)
  • Suicide (48%)

Clearly, there’s demand for brands to talk about and promote these important topics — and podcasts provide a safe space away from social media platforms, where brands perhaps suffer the risk of offense being caused by the visual nature of such ads.

Podcasting is a brand-safe environment, but also one where the important conversations listeners want to hear can take place. Here are three brilliant examples of podcast advertising campaigns brands have run with Acast, that might not have worked on any other medium.


Tena Lady (UK)
Acast partnered Tena Lady with Katherine Ryan, host of Telling Everybody Everything, who produced a sponsorship read for its sanitary products, which are sadly so often seen as ‘taboo’ or ‘embarrassing’ for women to discuss. Katherine turned the topic on its head by talking about the products in the context of female empowerment.

The INKEY List (US)

The INKEY List, a skincare brand, sponsored the Naked Beauty podcast. Host Brooke DeVard, who announced her own pregnancy around the same time the campaign ran, spoke about how the brand’s products had helped care for her skin — especially with lesser-known changes to the body that occur during and after pregnancy, such as skin elasticity. The INKEY List’s support for Brooke’s open and honest approach saw Acast deliver 300% of the campaign’s booked ad impressions.

UBS (US)

Banking brand UBS sponsored the Pantsuit Politics podcast, known for its unique approach to understanding the political issues of the day. By partnering with hosts Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers, UBS promoted its own Women In Economics branded podcast, which challenges perceptions of economics — a heavily male-dominated field — by showcasing, highlighting and celebrating the achievements of people who identify as women in the industry.