NEW YORK—Ad spending across podcasts is soaring, according to a new forecast. Indeed, eMarketer in its updated forecast on the podcasting sector forecasts that in the U.S. ad spending via podcasting will top the $1 billion mark this year. Its ascent will continue for the next few years, also.

In its latest forecast, eMarketer finds that podcast ad spending will exceed $2 billion by 2023. The firm said it upgraded growth estimates primarily because of a 36.8 percent spike in ad spending during 2020. This jump will be followed by growth of 38.7 percent this year and 31.1 percent in 2022, according to eMarketer. The firm previously expected 10.4 percent growth in 2020.

Podcast advertising in the second half of 2020 “recovered faster than anticipated, audience numbers continued to climb, and digital audio is now a staple in many people’s media diets,” eMarketer said in a recent post. Podcasting has also benefited from companies like Spotify, Amazon, iHeartMedia, and others buying and promoting content studios and ad tech companies alike.

A slew of acquisitions and major moves from top companies has not helped with fragmentation when it comes to advertising in the podcast space. For instance, eMarketer estimated that iHeartMedia—which last year brought in more podcast ad revenues than any other company eMarketer tracks—accounted for only 10 percent of total U.S. podcast ad spending in 2020, with the rest distributed across various creators, publishers, and platforms.

Additionally, there’s a quickly appearing dichotomy between platforms focused on building large content libraries to expand reach and those focused on attracting subscribers.

Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network at iHeartMedia, told eMarketer, “There are really two industries underneath this one. There’s the audience industry and the subscription industry. The subscription industry, Luminary, Spotify, etc., is using podcasts as a lead generator to get you to buy something else that’s not a podcast. The audience industry is a very simple business model: Every single thing we make, we will distribute everywhere.”