EPISODE 19: Episode 18: Marketing Mixology & the Metaverse with Lander Otegui

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Show Notes

As CMO of Proximo Spirits, Lander Otegui markets a host of spirits, including Bushmills Irish Whiskey and Boodles British Gin. But the most renowned brand under Otegui’s watch, legendarily comes from Mexico. Jose Cuervo is the world’s No. 1 tequila, and the first tequila brand on Earth. Now, it’s also the first tequila distillery in the metaverse. It’s one way Cuervo remains relevant with consumers. Sustainability is another. Agave-plant fibers, once discarded at the distillery, now fashion straws and other items, eagerly snapped up online. A native of Mexico City, Otegui was set for life as an engineer. But when he realized his love of drawing, building and deconstructing things applied to marketing, he never looked back.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How to be a David, when you are the Goliath
  • Why category founders should own and uphold traditions
  • There’s a tequila for every consumer and occasion
  • Follow your gut, then get others to buy in

Brought to you by Mekanism.

Transcript


Greetings everyone. This is our eighteenth
episode and the last episode of season one,

the inaugural season of soul and science. So far, we've interviewed some

of the world's leading marketers and expert
brand builders, and we really hope you've

enjoyed our conversations and learned a thing
or two along the way. We'll be

back in a month, on September
five, for the first episode of season

two, where you can fast forward
your marketing mind in about twenty minutes.

We're joined this week by PROXIMO CMO
landor or Tegi, a marketer who is

constantly looking towards the future and finding
new ways to reach the next generation of

Tequila drinkers and get them to connect
with the brand in an authentic way.

Mechanism is excited that we got a
partner with Jose Quevo on the world's first

ever Tequila Meta distillery. We've helped
build a world where socializing is the norm.

In de Central Land, there are
no strangers. The same goes if

you're drinking Quervo, whether online or
I R L. Our interactive distillery experience

is designed with exploration and friendship and
mind. You can meet new people virtually

drinks some Quervo and toast your new
friends. This activation launched yesterday, July,

on National Tequila Day. Fans can
head to Quervo Meta distillery DOT COM

to visit. We'll be talking more
about this and many other things in today's

episode. Welcome to the PODCAST.
Today I'm joined by Landor Otegi, CMO

approximate spirits. Lander is an engineer
with a passion for marketing, where he

spent most of his career effectively merging
the power of ideas and science. Landers

received numerous awards for his work,
including can Lyons, Effie's D N A,

D one show, Cleo and many
more. Throughout his career, he

has been able to successfully create and
grow multiple brands, expand, turnaround and

acquire businesses in different categories and markets, with beverage alcohol being his expertise.

He was born in Mexico City and
he's very passionate about Tequila, and it's

one of the fastest growing categories globally, and we're going to talk about that

today. So thanks for joining us
today. We really we know how busy

you are, landers, so thanks
for making the time. I always like

to start with what is lander's origin
story. I know you you had the

engineer sort of path, but how
did you get from there into marketing?

And then once you were in the
marketing how did you know it was like

the right fit for you and it
matched your skill set? I never planned

to be on on marketing as a
career, but I always loved marketing in

different ways. So I was a
big fan of creativity since I was a

young child. So I love drawing, I love building things, I love,

uh, deconstructing things and figure out
how they worked. I think creativity

has always been a passion for myself
and something that I really, really enjoyed.

One of the things I remember as
a child as well was that I

enjoyed actually watching ads. For some
people hats are annoying, but I remember

watching ads and thinking about what were
the people making the add thinking about how

they came up with with those ideas. So I was a little bit confused,

to be honest, when I was
about to enter university in Mexico and

I I went to one of these
Um uh, these places where they test

your capabilities and they tell you more
or less what you're going to be good

at, and they basically told me
that engineering was was my my my top

choice based on my capabilities for for
numbers, but also for solving problems,

and I think solving problems is a
big part of of what we do in

marketing and solving problems for consumers.
And I always kept marketing as a as

a as a second time for me. I always said I'm going to study

engineering and maybe I'll do a master
in the future in marketing, because that's

that's what I enjoyed the most.
And and actually, when I was about

to finish my career in Mexico,
one of our our teachers was actually working

for Queer in Mexico at the time
and and he told me about an intern

program that they were doing, like
a trade program and he said, I

like your profile and I think you
should, you should be interviewing for this

process. So there I went.
I went into this interview process with with

Cuerbo in Mexico as the as the
largest spirits company there, and and here

I am, many years ago,
in this role. So it wasn't really

planned for, but once I got
there I really enjoyed and I really felt

like I was in my in my
household. I love what you said,

though, because marketing and advertising really
is deconstructing problems and it is figuring out

how to architects success. So I
liked that that background has served you well.

Um, we started working with you
guys around like the beginning of the

pandemic actually, and one big focus
that we collaborated on was really moving into

more of engagement advertising with the audience
and and less sort of just putting messages

out there. Did you have a
gut instinct that that was the way to

connect with consumers? Yeah, so
I think when I look back at right

where I joined the company here in
the US, there was a lot of

very traditional marketing and traditional advertising,
that that was the type of advertising and

the type of messaging that was probably
very successful in like the eighties and the

nineties, where you were just putting
out a message and the company that had

the most amount of money was the
most successful because they were the ones that

were able to purchase the ads in
the in the prime spot. So I

think that the landscape has has been
changing significantly for for every type of company,

where you have now smaller brands that
are much smarder and and much more

flexible and and tech savvy that can
really even even a tiny brand can have

a message right on your phone in
in the in a very cheap and very

efficient way. So, uh people
wanted to succeed as a company in the

US, we needed to to ramp
up our three sixty approach and not so

been so much focused on on linear
TV and traditional advertising. And I think

if you look at Corbo's history,
Corbo has always been about engagement and about

connections, ever since the brand was
born over two hundred and sixty years we've

been pioneers and innovators ever since,
since the creation of the company and the

brand. And and at that point
I felt like we were falling a little

bit behind and we were also seeing
a pretty a pretty big competitive landscape that

was changing as well. There were
many, many Tequila brands coming into the

market and and obviously, as the
as the biggest brand and the biggest company,

you are the target for these smaller
brands because you are the one that

they can take the share from.
So it was a red flag for us

and we knew that we had to
do things differently and we we knew that

we needed to engage in a very
different way with a new generation of of

of Tequila drinkers. So it's been
a major shift and I think we're finding

success in in talking to consumers in
a very different way, talking young talking

to young consumers in a very different
way, and we're seeing how they're appreciating

the brand and how the brand has
continued to grow in a category that's been

on are by competition and celebrities and
just a lot of noise and where we're

still are our mother ship and it's
it's still growing and I think it's a

it's a very successful accomplishment to see
the brand continue to be the number one

after two D and sixty years,
which is easy to say, but I

don't think there's a lot of companies
that can say that. Do you worry

about all that competition, or do
you feel like they're sort of going to

come and go and you'll be the
last man standing? I think if if

you talk about the Tequila Category,
I think we're excited with what's happening.

Uh, this is something that we've
been dreaming of for many, many years

to see the explosion of the quill
in the US the way it's happening right

now. Because I think a rising
tide brings all the boats afloats and I

think we are. We're finally seeing
that consumers are appreciating Tequila in a very

different way and under seeing that the
craft and the quality of the Kila is

it's very different from from what they
thought only twenty thirty years ago. And

the way we we stay on top, I think it's being a big brand.

You have to be everywhere. It's
having the right price, it's having

the right size or the right formats
for for consumers to enjoy being in the

in the on premise, in the
restaurants, in the bars. I mean

there's a lot of trade practices that
are very important, promotions, etcetera,

but when you talk about the consumer, it's about being relevant. Engagement has

been a big priority for us over
the last few years, where where we

saw consumers getting more interested in the
in the in the Tequila making process,

in the history, in who's behind
the company, what are they doing in

terms of production, sustainability, etcetera, so that that was one of our

biggest shifts and understanding. Consumers are
actually interested in knowing what goes inside a

bottle and it's not just about how
the bottle looks or how the bottle makes

me look. And I think in
that case, Guerbo has a lot of

things to say. I mean being
the first, being the number one,

being the largest, but also being
the one that cares the most about the

category itself and and and being the
one that really is trying to educate consumers

on on Tequila. I love that. Um, there's the Quai brand and

then you have different types of Tequila
that you come up with. So how

do you think about different audiences and
the different marketing mix of products? We

have products that are like ready to
drink or ready to mix products, all

the way up to really expensive high
end tequill us like our two hundredsalio or

Familia, which is the original luxury
Tequila, the first text time Yeo Tequila,

the one that created the whole luxury
Tequila category many years ago. So

obviously every every Tequila has its its
consumer, it has it has its its

occasion, it has its its own
moment moments. And then you have tequill

us that are more like your your
everyday te Quilla, like traditional or core

speciality, different styles and different price
points. But all of our portfolios is

high quality te quill us, if
you look at it that way. We

are producing it at the same distillery
where we produced Ar Tequila's over two hundred

and sixty years ago. As I
said, the same traditional methods. We

are the company that employs the most
amount of people in the a gaby fields

we own are the largest agab of
crop in the whole industry. So when

you see people thinking about core,
was this big brand? Yes, we're

big, but we're also big in
the right way. We're not. We're

not doing anything that's different from what
we did many years ago. We're trying

to keep the traditions, we're trying
to keep the history and the and the

practices that got us here, but
at the same time we have been able

to innovate and to create different products
for different consumers. Right now, as

you know, we were launching the
traditional Cristallino, which is a category that

we created a few years ago with
one of our other brands, and it's

now taking off in Mexico. That
category is already over thirty percent of the

market in Tequila, and it's also
understanding what what consumers are looking for,

and that's that's where we innovate.
We pay attention to what consumers, bartenders

are are thinking about or how they're
using our products and we try to bring

solutions to them. Some of the
things that we're trying to do now is

kind of re established what Cuerbo means, because for the longest time consumers thought

about Cuerbo one way, but I
think it was it was a lack of

understanding and a lack of really seeing
what's behind the curtain and what's behind that

bottle, and I think you can
see that when people go and visit the

key L and when they visit our
distillery and they hear about the history and

they see that the actual thing being
produced, it's a life changing experience for

most of the people that that that
visit. Also, I think the more

we can build on on on Cuervos
a franchise and the more we can tell

consumers about the the importance and the
role that Cuerbo has played in the in

the category and the quality of the
products that we put out from those factories

and those distilleries, I think that's
when when that halo effect touches every single

thing that goes under the name Cuerbo, because there's a pretty strong history and

there's a pretty reputable quality of products
that come out of our distilleries and I

just think consumers need to rediscover what
core is all about. I love that.

And you also mentioned earlier sustainability.
How do you see sustainability playing a

role in the marketing mix and that
consumers care about that? Now, funny

enough, sustainability has always been part
of Corbo, even before it was cool

and it was another marketing angle.
So, as as stewards and as creators

of the category, we have a
big responsibility to make sure that that Tequila

continues for generations and generations and as
a category expands and and and the needs

for more a Gatherg to be planted. We are the ones that are most

concerned or more involved in how do
we make to kill as sustainable for the

future. So we were the first
to to start thinking about how do we

produce the Kila in a much cleaner
fashion and how do we make sure that

that these production practices are as sustainable
as possible with the technology that's available?

I can tell you that we have
from state of the art water treatment plants

in all of our distilleries, where
the water comes comes out cleaner than it

than it came in. We use
the AGA bagasses, the leftover from the

from the cooking process and and let's
see, the extraction of the juices from

the a Gabor left with all the
fibers. So we use that in our

Romans as uh, we burn it
to to heat our robens, for example.

We recycled the Agab we use it
as a composed for the AGABA fields

as well. And most recently we've
been experimenting with a Gaby Fibers to create

many different things. For many years
we've created clothing or or paper and things

that are more like artisans and crafts. As you know, we've experimented with

how do we use the Gaby fibers
to substitute single use plastics, and we

were very successful creating the the agave
straws, which was so incredible demand.

And we're experimenting and you'RE gonna see
a lot of new plastic substitute products coming

out from from the Corma brand in
the coming years. I think we,

as the stewards of the category,
need to be focused on how te kill

that should be in the next tent
five years and how do we make sure

that it stays as sustainable as possible, but being the number one you know,

making making good revenue and good profit
margins. Do you have to do

some convincing to get that investment to
figure out how to make things more sustainable?

Is that take a lot of convincing, or is there like a shared

vision where everyone knows that's the right
thing to do? Or how do how

do you think about sort of the
internal marketing you have to do? You

No, I think. I think
for for us as a company, as

a brand, since since it has
always been part of our our D N

A, it's it's not that it
needs so much convincing. I think what

what what we need to to convince, internally and externally, is that this

is this is uh, this is
a long term play, this is not

going to add value today, you're
not going to see the payoff today,

but it's the right thing to do
and I think brands that that are doing

these type of things in a in
a very strategic but are very but also

a very creative way, that can
communicate it to consumers in a very unique

way, are the brands that are
going to see the long term benefits ahead

of anyone that's not doing I think
that's a testament to how you stay number

one is you have to always think
about short term gains and profit and growth,

but you also have to have one
eye towards the long term future and

if you wait to think about the
future, you'll be way behind. Are

there any obstacles you've had to overcome
to keep your the status on top of

the category? Yeah, yeah,
and I mean I think recently there's a

lot of those. But I think
the way to stay relevant, as we

said before, is for us and
also since we're a family company, we're

also always looking at the long term
and how do we how do we prepare

for for for the future, and
how do we build not only capabilities,

but also how do we make sure
that the brands are going to be relevant

and are going to stay at the
top in the future, because we're not

here for for quarter profits, we're
here for Generational uh, you know,

heritage and generational wealth. So for
us it's all about focusing on the long

term and the challenges that we've seen. As you know, we were the

first Tequila to be sent out of
Mexico and and the brand that introduced the

world to Tequila. So I think
even even when you go back to the

branch history, one of the biggest
challenges was showing people what Tequila is and

how you drink this and why this
is a good thing to drink and how

you mix it, the creation of
the Margarita, the creation of the Paloma.

I mean there's there's so many things
that that that, as a company

and as a category, we had
to figure out to show the world that

te killer is something that you want
to drink and it's something that you want

to see in drinking, this in
drinking. So I think over the past

hundred years, I think it was
more about how do we carve our space

in the in the spirits industry,
and how do we show the world that

that Thee Quilla is actually a craft, high quality spirit that can be compared

with a scult or or or or
a single malt or a CONIAC or anything

that that's out there. It's at
the same level of quality or are but

also it's a category that that that
allows you to have much more fun than

than the other categories. But challenges
recently, just to tell some stories,

obviously, if you read the papers
or if you read the new supply chain

has been a major, Major UH
constraint for most most package goods companies,

and in our case it's been glass
the one that's been, uh, you

know, preventing us from growing more
and from doing the things that we wanted.

So when things like this happen,
you have to be creative and you

have to figure out how do we
serve the consumer and serve our customers without

without affecting the brand and not only
the profitability but also the long term Um

ambitions for the brand. So that
has been one of the biggest challenges for

us right now, which is how
do we figure out as a portfolio,

who gets the class, which brands
we prioritize? And do you think the

family run business, which is very
unique for the size of the business,

do you think that's helped you and
your team focus on the future and the

legacy and not about quarter to quarter
maximizing profit? Absolutely, I think when

when you have a company like in
our case, that's owned by by a

family that has a vision, not
not only owned by a family that's part

of the boarder or have shares in
the company, but I have a family

that has a vision and that have
a priority that goes beyond making money and

it's more about how do we make
this category or this spirit the next biggest

thing globally that continuity, that focus
and that that ambition and that passion is

what drives the whole company, which
is very different from having a company that

has a CEO that maybe can can
be here for a few years and maybe

they go out to the next thing
and someone else comes and changes things around.

So I think that that passion and
that continuity has allowed us to continue

growing the way we have and to
focus on on the on the feature and

the and the bigger picture than than
the quarterly games. You obviously speak so

passionately about Tequila. Where does that
love for Tequila come from? How do

you get that passion for Tequila?
Well, first, first, first and

foremost. Obviously, I'm from Mexico
originally, so so I carry Tequila in

my heart, although I wasn't really
a big drinker of Tequila when I when

I started drinking in Mexico, my
first brand that I managed actually was was

vodkas. So it wasn't even into
Tequila until I was like two years into

the into the company. And I
think when you start understanding the craft and

the history and when you start start
meeting the people that make it and you

go and shake the hands of the
himlotes and you touch the agave and you

experiment the whole process, I think
you you automatically fall in love with it.

I think the combination of me being
from Mexico and loving my country the

way I love it, and also
working in this industry and understanding the the

craft and the process and the and
the history that the Tequila has, I

mean it's it's just natural that that
I'm really passionate about it and I think

once you try our liquids, that's
that's the best proo of concept, when

you once you put one of our
tequilas in a glass and you taste them.

I mean that's when when your rights
are really open and when you when

you kind of validate that that everything
that I said was actually true. Being

from Mexico, you also feel like
you're you're giving people a part of your

your history and your country when they're
getting into Tequila. Absolutely, yeah,

I love that deeper idea. Um, you've obviously risen up within Proximo to

the top and you are running a
ton of different brands. What do you

love and what's challenging about where?
You said today. Well, one of

the things that I love obviously right
now is is the just how how the

Tequila category has evolved and how the
the U s consumer and just a global

consumer is more open to to hear
and what it is. In the past

it was it was a pretty big
challenge to get like, you know,

a high end restaurant or even like
a restaurant, wasn't that what's in Mexican

to carry a bottle of Tequila in
their menu. So just things like that.

And now you see every single Italian, Japanese, every single hotel,

every luxury account that that that sells
any type of spirit are are caring Tequila.

So that's that's really uh, like
an outstanding accomplishment for the category and

something that really motivates me to to
do more. And we see how the

how the category is going to be
performing in the future and it's just feels

us with energy and and excitement about
about what's next. And I think another

thing that's both exciting, exciting and
frightening at the same time right now is

just managing the whole uh, coming
back from covid and managing remote flexible and

the change of culture and the clash
of culture has been between, you know,

the old guard and the younger employees
that we're hiring and what's the right

balance. So that's something that I'm
both enjoying but dreading at the same time.

But but I think we're shaping off
a really interesting culture at proximal and

I think the future is only bright
for us. Tell us a little bit

about Meta distillery. You know,
when you think about a two sixty year

old company and then you think about
the metaverse, as you know, the

future. Tell me a little bit
about that. Yeah, so obviously everyone

was talking about it and everyone saw
that's kind of coming. And I think

also as as the first distillery and
as the first Tequila brand, we wanted

to be first, and that's always
that we've always strived as a brand and

and ever since we started seeing that
this was actually a thing, we said,

we need to be the first ones
out there and we need to be

the first ones to show up,
not only as a way of showing up.

We're not the type of brand that
just those stunts for the sake of

doing it. We wanted to do
that as a again, as a as

a way to stay relevant for the
coming year. So we're not in just

for for a blip. The way
we're approaching the metaverse is something that can

stay for many, many generations as
well, if the metaverse becomes that type

of thing. So we are we
are thinking about this us a way too,

to maintain that relevance and approach our
consumers in a in a very unique

way. We're kind of following their
journey and offering different types of experiences and

different types of options in the way
they can uh, you know, connect

with the brand. But this is
this is a story that will hopefully last

for for as many years as the
actual distilleries today. I love the sort

of juxtaposition between the oldest Tequila brand, but you also want to be on

the bleeding edge and be first two
new things. There's all kinds of new

things. You know, every year
something's last, some things don't. Do

you use data? Do you use
your gut that? How do you manage?

How do you use the head and
the heart to make those decisions of

where it's right for Jose quaerever to
show up? Yeah, so I think

in this category in particular, hard
to me, is the biggest driver,

because the spirits category and the and
the the Tequila category in particular, it's

a very emotional category. Yes,
yes, there's there's a lot of truth

about the quality of the liquid,
but it's it's about the connections, it's

about being there and sharing with friends. So this category is mainly driven by

the heart. So that's that's how
we think of things and of course there's

a lot of validation and a lot
of data that we used to to make

sure that that our hunches are are
right and that the way we're kind of

guiding the brand is actually true.
But I think we are very guided by

the heart, not only by the
passion of our owner, but also by

the by the way this category behaves. We're not a transactional category, where

we see ourselves more as a lifestyle
category, and that's something that consumers are

really, really passionate about. So
the heart has to be at the forefront

of what we do, with a
ton of data that validates every single move.

Do you believe in doing a lot
of testing, or do you believe

in doing experimenting to see results,
or do you like to do a lot

of testing before you put ideas out
into the world? I think we are.

We're a very entrepreneurial company in that
way. So we like to test,

oftentimes just to see if there's a
major risk. But we don't know

overtest things. We Are we're very
flexible, we're kind of we think of

ourselves and I think we act like
we're much more dynamic company than than with

some people think of giving our size. But we do testing mainly for validation

and for and for just measuring any
red flex than overtesting, because consumers are

not always going to tell you what
they want. I mean there's there's an

auld saying, you know from Henry
for that. He says if I would

have asked consumers, they would have
told me they wanted faster horses. So

so there are there's a lot of
times when testing is an overkill. So

we we try to be driven by, as I said, by the heart

and then use testing as validation of
the concepts and as a way to fine

tune and redirect. And we've failed
many times, but I think we've been

successful the most most of the time. I'm gonna ask you some personal questions

now. Did you grow up,
maybe professionally or personally, with any role

models that helped kind of guide the
person that you are today? So I

think maybe I'm a little bit boring
in that way because I don't have a

single role model or figure, but
I like to collect the things that I

like about different individuals and make an
imaginary role model for myself. But I

think that the people that I admire
the most in terms of of like from

a from a business stand for from
a from a creation standpoint, where like

the the creators from the seventeen hundreds
and the eighteen hundreds, when you talk

about the the test lasts or the
or the or the Guttenberg's or the people

that live in that area, that
the beaches of the world, those guys

were. I think that that the
biggest innovators and the biggest creators and the

and the the biggest restakers that you
could ever see, because they were doing

things that were completely h out of
the ordinary by themselves and they were seeing

things that no one else was seeing. And when I compare those creators to

the to the model creators, where
there's probably more like a team effort and

there's a lot of information and technology
around, when back in the day it

was just I have this crazy idea. I don't know how I'm going to

get there with Thomas Alba Eddison and
figuring out how how to create a light

bulb and I think those ever since
I was a child, I was always

impressed and admired by the by the
fact that these people were creating these things,

you know, in a basement with
the with the garbage they could find

in their labs. So I think
those people, to me, were like

I want to be one of those
creators or renovators. I want to be

someone that creates something that can stay
for generations and something that people can find

useful. Do you have a favorite
quote or mantra that you always repeat or

you go back to when things are
good or when you have an issue?

Do you have anything like that in
your arsenal? It's less so a Mancha,

but but I think it's it's more
connected to what what we talked about

before, like the soul and science
of the heart. I think every time

I I have a hunter, I
think like this is the right thing for

me to do. I think it's
like follow your God, follow your heart.

That's gonna that's gonna be the thing
that matters at the end. And

I think when, when you do
that, and even when people around you

might think either you're you're crazier,
or that's not gonna work, or or

that's that's that's not the way we
should solve this problem. I think when

you when you really follow your your
heart and you and you find out a

way to to convince the people around
you, I think that's where you find

the most successful. To me,
it's more, it's more than a mantriates

that it's a way of living.
Like if you have this this feeling that,

as a marketer and as a creator, you you also probably feel that

every day you have a great idea
is this is the right thing. Let's

let's figure out a way to get
it done and let's follow our our God

and our instinct, and let's get
people around it to believe in the same

thing. Yeah, follow your God, I think is powerful as the mantra.

And my last question. What's your
favorite drink? If you had one

drink, your last drink on earth, what would it be to kill on

the rocks? A good, High
Quality Tequila on the Rock. What Tequila?

UH, Familia, it's one of
my favorite tequilas. Now, if

you haven't tried it, you should
get get a bottle. Amazing. Thanks

for your your wisdom and uh,
it's been really insightful and we really appreciate

the time on the podcast. Thank
you very much, chason. Thanks for

having me here, thanks so much
for listening to soul and science and we'll

see you next week. Soul and
science is a mechanism podcast produced by the

unbelievable Frank Risco, Ryan Tillotson,
Tyler Nielsen, Emma Swanson and we'll lead

Jablonsky. The show is edited by
Daniel Ferrari, theme music by Kyle Merritt,

and I'm your host, Jason Harris.
Soul & Science
Does marketing live in the heart, or in the head? Should you trust your instinct, or your integers? If the answer is both, should you lead with one more than the othe... View More

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