Thinking back to the mid 2000’s, there aren’t many cultural trends that have held public interest in the way that podcasts have. The iPod, for which podcast gets part of its naming origin, is only a distant memory; soon to be a retro fascination. Over the last fifteen years podcasts have not only stayed relevant, they’ve substantially grown in popularity. According to Edison Research’s 2019 podcast consumer report, there are an estimated 90 million people who have listened to a podcast in the last month in 2019. These active podcast listeners make up 32% of those surveyed, a drastic increase from those active listeners in Edison Research’s 2008 consumer report, who made up only 9% of those surveyed.
Like any long-standing industry, podcasting has evolved as it has grown. With streaming services making it easier to listen as well as upload the barrier to entry has lowered significantly. This has allowed for anyone to take part. No longer do you have to be a, tech savvy, individual hosting their own RSS feed or a major broadcasting institution. You can be a regular individual and if listeners enjoy your show, you can be just as successful as any established organization or figurehead.
The ease of podcast creation has led to podcasts on nearly every subject imaginable. From comedy to true crime, politics to tech news, even more niche subjects such as theme park history or marathon training have ample podcasts to indulge in. You can pretty much guarantee that if you have an interest, no matter how particular, you can find someone talking about it.
Any medium that gains a dedicated and consistent following is bound to attract advertisers. Statista reports that 2018 podcast advertising revenue totaled $479 million, a massive increase compared to their 2015 reported podcast advertising revenue of $106 million. This rise in advertising revenue is no surprise. If you are a consistent podcast listener you’ve probably noticed most of your favorite podcasts have ad breaks where a portion of time somewhere throughout the program is dedicated to whoever is sponsoring that episode. A brand representative might be delivering the copy, or the podcast hosts themselves. These advertising methods harken back to the days of radio plays or early television and its interesting to see that some marketing methods never die.
While podcasts are predominately an audio format that doesn’t mean that people are passively consuming them in the background of their daily lives. Its true that a lot of podcast listeners listen to podcasts while driving and working out the majority aren’t doing anything else while listening. Another finding from Edison Research revealed that 70% of those surveyed stated that they are just listening, without any other task at hand, while listening to podcasts. This was the top response and truly shows that podcast audiences are attentive and active in their listening. This is great for advertisers because it shows the dedication that podcast audiences have. If you are going to place an ad on a podcast, you’ll have a good chance listeners will hear your message and retain it.
Can I Advertise on a Podcast?
With there being so many different types of podcasts, made on an amateur to industry professional level, you might be wondering “Can I advertise on a podcast?”. The answer is yes. Considering there are podcasts being made on all levels of popularity it leads as a great opening for newcomers of media advertising. The internet has been a great equalizing platform to allow anyone to create and share their thoughts, talents, and creations. The same can be possible for those looking to advertise.
If you are already someone looking at digital advertising, you’ve probably dabbled in Google Ads and have seen how accessible it can be. While Google Ads is the main place to go when looking at advertising online, we’ve gotten to a point where nearly every business is advertising through Google. If you are someone looking to stand out in today’s digital marketing landscape, you’ll need to explore other avenues.
Creation of a Podcast Ad
Podcast advertising is a great way to advertise in a different way online. As stated before, podcast advertising has grown rapidly, and it has been reported that podcast audiences are highly attentive. It is also a different way to present your message. Instead of more visual advertisements, such as a campaign of banner ads or sponsored posts, podcasts advertising relies on the effectiveness of the audio delivery and time constraint.
While some podcasts have video options, nearly all of them have audio based so it’s important to deliver a message that is expected to be consumed exclusively via audio. Podcast ads are also sold with the run time in mind. Standard lengths are usually 30 or 60 seconds; podcast networks may be open to longer ads but you should expect a higher fee. Having a specific time constraint allows for clarity on the podcaster’s end about what can be expected as well as giving you a strict guideline of what to provide. Whether you or a marketing agency are the ones creating the ad its important to know what you want to provide.
With a lack of visual supplementation its important to know how quickly those 30-60 seconds can go, especially when you need to rely on describing in detail your product or service. Podcast ads are usually more informative than they are attention grabbing or subversive. Providing as much necessary information as possible or a consumer testimonial are some of the strongest strategies when creating an effective ad.
Host vs. Brand Representative
Another important element is knowing what kind of voice will be providing the advert. As previously mentioned, podcast ads are usually narrated by the podcast host or a brand representative. It depends on what format the podcast in which you are reaching out to operates on and what they are comfortable doing but there are positives to both scenarios.
When it comes to having the podcast host deliver the ad read the biggest value is having the direct endorsement straight from those who provide the show. With more and more podcasts originating around a specific personality rather than a subject, audiences are focusing their attention on what the host has to say. Whether it is part of the regular programing or the ad breaks, audiences are there to hear what that person is saying. Having the host read the advert leads to a more seamless transition that makes for a better show and an easier way for viewers to get the message of the advertisement.
Another great element of having the host read the advert is that product testimonials are much more affective. When audiences are hearing about a product experience from someone they already trust and recognize it can lend itself to be a more convincing sales pitch than introducing a new voice to be judged. Celebrities and recognizable personalities with their own podcast draw their initial viewership from those who are already fans and want to get a better view into the life of their favorite comedian/actor/commentator. These podcasts are full of stories that allow listeners to feel a closer attachment with the host, as if they are friends. The rapport that is built between the podcast host and their listeners leads to a creator/audience relationship where the audience is more open to hearing about a product because they’re hearing about it from someone, they have an established opinion of. Instead of spending your 30-60 seconds winning the audience over you can get straight to the pitch. This method of advertising is at the crossroads of celebrity endorsement and word of mouth where the celebrity endorsement is directed at the right audience and the word of mouth spreads farther with less effort.
If the podcast you are looking to advertise on is asking that you provide the recorded copy your biggest strength is being able to provide an advert that you feel comfortable with long before it airs. You get to control what is said and how it is said. While podcasting has grown in the last fifteen years it’s still a relatively new medium and it can take a lot of trust in handing off your brand representation to someone who might have minimal experience in representing brands. A lot of podcasts are not scripted which leads to a host having to transition into a scripted format if they are reading copy provided to them. While the voice delivering the ad might be the same as the regular show it can still be just as jarring as having a new voice join the conversation in order to provide the message. Most ads read by someone other than the host are often placed together in one segment which allows for a more natural break between segments.
Whether the ad is read by the podcast host or a brand representative is an important question. While you might not have control over which situation you find yourself in its important to know what to expect so you can provide as effective ad as you can.
Placing A Podcast Advertisement
Now that you have some understand of what goes into a podcast advertisement, you’ll need to know how to get it placed on an actual podcast. Some things you’ll need to understand first are that ad placements are primarily placed through the podcast network rather than the podcast themselves. While there are podcasts on the more independent level who operate without a podcast network, most modest to large sized podcasts are a part of a network. It is also more valuable on your end to reach out to networks as they represent a large catalog of podcasts rather than just one.
When reaching out to a podcast network its important to know how they operate. What are their fees? What do they offer? What are their demographics? How long can you run an ad campaign with them? Before reaching out for advertising opportunities you should have these questions in mind and know what answers you are looking for from them.
When it comes to fees and payment to place an ad there are a few industry standards to consider. Firstly, ad pricing is done on a CPM rate. CPM (Cost Per Mille) is a pricing method that issues a price per thousand listeners. Average CPM rates usually range from $15 to $35 depending on podcast audience size and the length of the podcast. If you are a smaller company or just starting out it might be better to look at the niche podcasts, especially if your product is niche as well.
Demographics are probably the most important element in marketing, and it is no different in podcasting. With nearly every subject imaginable having at least one podcast, and a dedicated audience following it, it’s important to know which demographic you want to reach. This will not only provide you with a more effective advertising campaign but save you time when hunting down a podcast to advertise on. This is beneficial to the podcast as well because it allows them to have more relevant ad breaks. When they are taking a break from the regular program it makes for a more fluid show if they can transition to something related to the show or relevant to those listening. This way audiences don’t feel turned off by the ads while still finding value in the show’s programming.
As a business looking to advertise you probably have different needs and expectations when it comes to running an ad campaign. Are you managing a festival and need to promote it in the months preceding? Are you looking to launch your new app and looking to advertise across the world? Maybe you’re unsure about podcast advertising and just want to try it out. There are a lot of different scenarios you might find your company in. It’s important to know where you’re at to let the podcast network know what you’re looking for from the start. This will also influence the overall expense of podcast advertising as the length of your campaign will make a difference on the total cost. If you have a limited budget it would be valuable to consider which options might give you the most value for the money you have.
Most podcast networks are willing to be flexible and work with you on a campaign that’s right for you. Many times, they will start by looking at your budget and needs and providing a quote from there. This can allow for a variety of pricing plans that might differ between networks but could fit the specific time frame or budget in better way than a flat rate.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for and have found a podcast network who can fulfill your needs you’ll be on your way to advertising across the podcast medium. Whether this is a small test or a full-blown campaign it’s important to stay up to date on what is going on with your adverts. Make sure the podcast the ads are placed on is representative of your brand and they are promoting you in a way that fits your expectations as well as what was agreed upon beforehand. Since most podcasts are very improvisational its important that they are sticking to the script, or at least living up to expectations, when it comes to the ad reads. For this reason, it’s important to note that you should have some leniency with the podcast as well, knowing that things might be a little different when it comes to the actual podcast program. As long as nothing is interfering with your brand/company guidelines and you are receiving the proper length/placement of your ad you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
Podcasts have created a level playing field for those looking to create their own show and share their thoughts. Previously, you could only do something like this on radio or TV. With so many people realizing that they too can make a podcast, its no surprise that those same freedoms might open up to those looking to advertise. Just like the level playing field for creators, companies looking to advertise now have an equal opportunity to reach media audiences. While having connections definitely makes things easier, it is possible for a small business or a newcomer on the market to place ads along side established brands on podcasts big and small. So consider podcast advertising as an option for next quarter’s advertising budget.