Podcasting has exploded in popularity over the last decade and has quickly become an effective medium for advertising. Two million podcasts live on the web, and U.S. podcast ad spending is rising at double-digit percentage rates yearly and will top $2 billion next year.
"Audio ads have evolved over time, and it's quickly changing in recent years to become more of a two-way street, more of a conversation,” Leonardo De La Rocha, head of design for Spotify Ads said on an episode of Wix's Now What? podcast. “We want brands to speak to audiences, but we also want it to feel authentic."
Authenticity hasn't always been easy to achieve in advertising, but the podcasting format allows you to reach listeners more intimately. So, after you launch your business and create a website, it's critical to find new and creative types of marketing to get in front of your target audience (and find free places to promote your website), and podcasts advertising can be a promising method.
Starting a podcast? Use this podcast name generator to name it.
Why is podcast advertising effective?
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand why people enjoy podcasts and the reasons behind their growth in popularity.
For starters, unlike watching a video or reading an article, you can listen to a podcast anywhere. Whether it’s at home, during your commute or at the gym, this type of content is extremely versatile. On top of that, there are podcasts about almost anything: health, fitness, entrepreneurship, personal development, creativity, you name it.
But it’s the nature of podcasts themselves that makes them ideal for marketers who want to connect with their audiences. Unlike other types of advertising, such as billboard ads and print ads, people who listen to podcasts tend to have an affinity for the hosts - its contextual advertising at its finest. This makes podcasts unique when it comes to advertising since the audience already sees the person delivering the message as captivating and trustworthy.
Not only that, but podcast listeners are usually engaged in each episode and listen with intent. Unlike online advertising, such as pop-up ads or videos, podcasts offer advertisers an opportunity to speak to an audience that is much more interested in listening. In fact, 80% of podcast listeners say they’re able to recall a brand mentioned in a podcast.
De La Rocha agrees. “We know that the most engaged audiences are those on platforms like Spotify, listening to podcasts, listening to music,” he says. “Just think about how intimate that is. We are literally in your body, through your headphones, through your earbuds. We're physically connected to you the way that other brands really aren't.”
You don’t need to be an expert marketer to know that the more engaged your audience is, the better your ad conversion rates will be.
If you haven’t yet started advertising on podcasts, now’s a good time to begin. Advertisers have already seen the potential in podcast ads, with the projected global ad spend expected to reach $1.6B by next year.
So, how can you take advantage of this colossal source of revenue? Let’s look at some of the ways that brands are advertising on podcasts already with these advertisement examples.
How brands should select podcasts to advertise with
It can be difficult to know which podcast(s) to spend your ad budget on. Thankfully, there are marketing strategies that brands can use to narrow down their choice of shows to find podcast topics that will fit their messaging and help them reach the right audiences.
Here are some points to consider when shopping around for podcasts to advertise with:
01. Your target audience
Know who you’re trying to target and research their interests to get a better understanding of which podcasts they’re listening to. Some bigger podcasts, such as those by NPR, publish their podcast demographics so you can see if they’re a good fit.
02. The podcast’s content
The reason this works so well is that the product being advertised usually fits with the overall theme of the podcast. If a podcast discusses women’s issues or feminism, then it would make sense to run ads that are relevant to that demographic.
03. The podcast host(s)
Finally, a podcast is nothing without its host. Having a good understanding of a host’s background and interests can help you forge an authentic connection with them as well as a genuine interest in your brand. If your host is a fan of your product or company, chances are they’re going to be more effective at promoting it.
Key elements of a successful podcast advertising campaign
Before you start your search for the right podcast, you’ll want to set up your campaign so that it’s as successful as possible. Podcast ads work a little differently than other types of digital marketing ads, so it’s crucial to have a well-rounded understanding before you jump in. Let’s take a closer look at some podcast advertising tips and strategies you should know.
Understand your audience
It’s imperative to know which podcasts your target market listens to. But it’s also important to familiarize yourself with the audience so that you know how to best advertise to them. Start by creating a buyer persona. To do so, you need to establish:
Your customers’ demographics, including age, location, interests and stage of life
Identify customer pain points
How you can help them resolve their pain points and achieve their goals
You might already have a solid understanding of your ideal customer from previous marketing campaigns, but it may need to be adjusted for podcast advertising because you need to understand their expectations surrounding a specific podcast.
Meaning, are they hoping to stay up-to-date on current events? Are they trying to learn about a topic for personal or professional growth?
Knowing their reasons for listening to a podcast will help you create ads that resonate with them. “I think that goes into audio. That goes into video. That goes into any medium that you're using to tell a story of your product. Be thoughtful and authentic with the people you're trying to reach by retaining that customer obsession,” says De La Rocha.
Optimize your ad placement
Similar to TV or radio ads, podcasts have designated time slots for running advertisements. Hosts will schedule a pause in their conversation to run an ad in the middle, beginning or end of an episode.
In general, there are three types of podcast advertisements:
Pre-roll ads are within the first 15 seconds of a podcast, before or immediately after the title is introduced. They typically last between 15 and 30 seconds.
Mid-roll ads play in the middle of an episode. Usually, there will be a predetermined break in the podcast content and the host will run an ad. Mid-roll ads tend to be longer than pre or post-roll ads, lasting 60-90 seconds long.
Lastly, post-roll ads run at the end of a podcast before the credits, if they’re listed. A post-roll ad usually runs around 20-30 seconds long.
You might need to test out different placements for your banner ads since each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Pre and post-roll ads are much more likely to be skipped over, but some brands prefer being the first or last thing mentioned on a podcast episode. Mid-roll ads tend to be the most expensive because they’re both the longest and least likely to be skipped.
There really is no “best” option. Take a look at your budget and the audience you want to reach to determine what’s best for your brand.
Know the cost per ad
How much will it actually cost you to run podcast ads? Well, that depends. First, it depends on the placement within the episode. Second, it depends on the popularity of the podcast. It stands to reason that the more listeners a podcast has, the more expensive an ad will cost.
Typically, this is how the cost is broken down:
According to AdvertiseCast, podcast advertising rates in 2021 are set at $18 for a 30-second ad and $25 for a 60-second ad. This cost is broken down by CPM, or cost by mille, which means the cost is for 1000 listeners. If a podcast lists its listener reach, you can easily calculate how much your ad might cost.
In general, you can budget between $20-$30 for a 30-60 second ad per 1000 listeners. Of course, everyone wants to advertise on the most popular podcasts, but your ad budget might dictate otherwise. It’s also important to remember that since you want to target your ads to the podcasts your audience listens to, you might not always need to go after the podcast with the highest number of listeners.
Pre-recorded vs. host-read ads
It’s generally accepted that host-read ads convert better than pre-recorded ones. This goes back to the fact that listeners trust podcast hosts, so having them read your ads tends to produce better engagement.
“A trusted voice in front of a brand is so much better than the brand speaking directly at people,” explains De La Rocha. “There is an authentic connection being made that leads to trust from those who listen.”
More than that, a host-read ad is typically longer than a pre-recorded ad, meaning you get even more bang for your buck. Host-read ads last on average for 48 seconds, compared to just 27 seconds for pre-recorded ads.
Another thing to consider is how your ad might age, especially if you’re using pre-recorded ads. If you’re promoting a time-sensitive event or special, then it might not be relevant at all when someone listens to an episode weeks or months after it’s aired. Host-read ads tend to be more organic and follow the logical pattern of the episode and seem less out of place, even when listened to at a later date.
Continuously test your ads
Just like any form of affiliate marketing, you’re going to want to test your ad over time and perhaps even in a few variations to see what’s the most effective. Think of it as A/B testing your podcast ads.
It’s impossible to see whether or not your ad was successful after just one episode. You’ll need to advertise on multiple episodes to see whether or not it’s converting listeners. If a certain podcast episode happens to be less popular or engaging, it doesn’t mean your ad won’t work on future episodes.
Plus, running your ads on multiple episodes fosters a relationship with the audience and creates continued brand awareness.
Take the popular podcast, Serial, as an example. In its early days, MailChimp ran ads at the beginning of each episode, and as the podcast became popular, so did MailChimp. Listeners began expecting to hear the MailChimp ad before each episode, making the brand much more recognizable.
Measure your ad’s success
A simple way to determine the success of your ad is to use promo codes. That way, you can track your codes to see how many are being used, by who, and when. The more people who use your promo code, the higher your rate of success.
You should also be monitoring user engagement and what people are saying about your brand on social media. As listeners become more accustomed to hearing your ads in their favorite podcasts, you’ll want to see if they are talking about you on social media. Are they engaging with your brand more? This is another important metric for judging the success of your ads.
Also be sure to track the traffic to your website. As listeners hear your brand more, check your website analytics tool to see if there’s an uptick in traffic.
Podcast advertising networks
Instead of working directly with brands and managing ads, many podcast hosts decide to go through an advertising network. This allows them to gain access to a wider variety of brands. As an advertiser, it often makes your job easier to search for podcasts and pay for ads all in one place. Here are a few of the more popular podcast advertising networks we recommend using.
Midroll is one of the more popular podcast advertising networks out there. They specialize in placing host-read ads that sound natural and convert well. You’ll find tons of world-class podcasts here, such as My Favorite Murder, Office Ladies run by The Office co-stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, and Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations. Many large brands have worked with Midroll and seen results, such as HBO, Toyota, FedEx, and more. There’s a dashboard where you can track your campaign 24/7 and gain insightful metrics on your ads.
With AdvertiseCast, you’ll have access to over 1,700 different podcasts to advertise on. This platform allows you to search for different podcasts based on factors like reach, cost, and listener demographics. You’ll find a lot of popular podcasts here, such as Dr. Phil’s Phil in the Blanks, The Jordan B Peterson Podcast, Darknet Diaries, and a lot more. There’s a wide range of brands already working with AdvertiseCast, such as Nike, Amazon, NordVPN, and more.
PodcastOne allows advertisers to connect with and discover podcasts. There are a few hundred podcasts here to choose from, such as Gals on the Go, Court Junkie, and Off the Vine with Kaitlyn Bristowe. PodcastOne sees more than 2.1 million episode downloads each year with 350 weekly episodes.
Authentic Shows is a podcast advertising network that caters to the most popular shows. You can expect to see some big podcast names here, such as This American Life, Stuff You Should Know, and The Daily by The New York Times. The podcasts on Authentic Shows tend to have very engaged listeners, which allows this network to attract many high-end advertisers, like Netflix, Visa, and Dell.
Spotify advertising allows you to scale your podcast campaign with audience-based buying across the Spotify Audience Network. The easiest way to start running podcast ads on Spotify is with its self-serve advertising channel, Ad Studio. Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) provides campaign metrics and audience insights based on confirmed ad impressions.
The future of podcast advertising
Podcasts are the present and future of advertising because they allow brands to connect with their target audiences in authentic, engaging ways, through a host they trust. There are multiple strategies that will help you reach this market of dedicated listeners, so experiment with different podcasts and advertising approaches until you find one that works for you.