Step-by-step breakdown for creating a great podcast advertising campaign
You’ve been listening to podcasts lately and have begun to notice that most of your favourites have had ads inserted at the beginning, middle and end. You’re wondering, could this kind of advertising be right for your brand?
What most people don’t realize is how powerful podcast advertising is. Unlike traditional advertising, podcast advertising is not made for mass consumption like TV commercials, but instead, cover specific niches that generally target attentive audiences that are often already bought into the space.
Because of their ability to reach more targeted audiences, they are generally quite effective. Edison Research found that 54% of podcast consumers say they’re more likely to consider the brands they hear advertised on podcasts. And if that’s not enough, NPR discovered that 75% of its podcast listeners will respond or take action after hearing sponsored content.
And we know you’ve heard BetterHelp, HelloFresh, or Stamps.com on some of your favourite shows… and we’d be lying if we haven’t hit purchase on Athletic Greens.
To say the least, podcast advertising is a powerful channel for your brand. So we created this guide to help you successfully manage and run your own podcast advertising campaign.
43% of podcast listeners are between the ages of 35-54. This audience is amazing for brands because of their age, income and education level.
This particular group of people are old enough to make purchasing decisions and also have disposable income. There is also a large segment of young millennials and older Gen Z’s who make up the 50% of listeners between the ages of 12-34 who typically have access to disposable income.
It’s important to look into podcast demographics to make sure you’re executing your ad campaigns on shows that most align with your specific target audience.
Who are your buyer personas, and what shows would they be listening to? Whenever you speak to potential podcasts, they should be able to give you an idea of who their audience is. If they can’t, move on to other advertising opportunities.
Before you start your first podcast advertising campaign, you need to determine your budget. Your ad spend will decide how many listeners can be reached with your message (i.e. how big the show that your advertising on is).
For some time, we saw podcasters and networks following this formula when pricing their ad slots:
But over time, we saw the prices of ad slots change depending on where your ad is placed, how niche the audience that you’re tapping into is, how engaged the audience is, and any additional advertising that comes with your sponsorship.
You can use this formula to get a rough idea of how much you might expect to be paying for an ad slot on a show, but don’t take it as a definitive cost.
Once you’ve defined the ad budget, you need to choose shows for your campaign. Because the pool of podcasts is so large, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with niche audiences that relate to your specific industry.
Here are our recommendations for selecting shows to partner with:
The size of the show is important since it’ll typically be the primary driver for cost. Larger audiences cost more to tap into. Typically, we recommend creating a podcast advertising strategy that taps into larger audiences as well as smaller, niche ones. This creates a healthy balance between the size of shows and gives you an opportunity to discover what type of audience works best for your brand.
Select shows that fall under the same category or industry as your brand. If you know that your customers are typically marketers at startups, then go after business or marketing podcasts that speak about small businesses or startups.
It’s important to like the ideas, style, and personality of the host. At the end of the day, the host will be the one representing your brand in the advertisement and because of that, you need to ensure that you trust them as a voice for your company.
And finally, ad style. Different hosts have different styles and this won’t go away when they’re reading ad slots, which is a good thing. Some of what makes podcast ads so powerful is the fact that it can feel as if a good friend (the host) is recommending their favourite product or service to you, almost recreating word-of-mouth marketing.
As with any campaign, a competitive analysis can help you identify what other brand advertisers are doing, as well as opportunities where you can get an edge by seeing what worked for them and what didn’t (without spending a single dollar).
If you have a direct competitor who has advertised on various podcasts, see if those shows might fit your ad strategy as well. Similarly, if there are brands in your industry that provide non-competing services and use podcast advertising, try to identify shows that they advertise on.
From there, you could either look into contacting these podcast producers or look for podcasts that have a similar level of popularity and discuss related topics. While you shouldn't do exactly what your competitors are doing, keeping abreast of what their approach has been can help inform yours.
Generally, a competitive analysis should inspire you to get creative and improve on what your competition has done historically.
Now that you've found some great shows to advertise on, it's time to determine which ad spots to buy. We recommend buying 10, 30, and 60 second spot ads.
Many advertisers prefer pre-roll ads because they believe that an ad appearing in the first 25% of a podcast is most likely to be heard by audiences. Others prefer mid-roll ads because audiences are likely to be engaged in other tasks (such as dishes or driving) and won't take the time to skip through them.
Insider Tip: When beginning to place ads and do research, use a podcast advertising platform. We recommend:
As an advertiser, you have to decide if you want a direct response ad or one that focuses on brand awareness. Insider tip – most people go for direct response podcast advertising, but we still wanted to break them both down for you:
Most marketers will want to track the results of their advertising efforts. This is done with direct response advertising. In direct response advertising, the podcaster is given a promo code or unique landing page URL that you can monitor or track on your end. This way you can track every lead or order that originates from your podcast ad.
The objective of a brand awareness campaign is just that, raising general awareness about a product or service.
These campaigns aim to reach millions of people and have a blanket approach in terms of capturing an entire market. Tracking the effectiveness of a campaign at this magnitude requires audience polls and unique internal tracking methods (aka this costs more budget to determine its impact).
As mentioned earlier, most marketers choose to run direct response campaigns. This means you track the results of your ad spend. The easiest way to accomplish this with podcast audio ads is to have the host mention a unique code when recording.
You simply provide the host with your coupon code and they will mention it on air and in show notes when promoting your product or service. If you’re advertising on multiple shows, we recommend using a unique promo code for each podcast so that you can determine where individual leads were generated.
A lot of podcast ads are host-read, and the key is to give clear direction. Will you be providing a script that they must follow, or a set of guidelines and touch points?
The specifics of an ad could include:
As we mentioned earlier, depending on the podcast and host, they may have their own style of host-read ads that they use to match the show. Because of this, they won’t allow you to provide a word-for-word script for them to follow and although this can be scary, it’s best to let the host perform the ad in a way they think their audience will resonate with.
One of our favourite examples is from Bill Burr’s podcast. Burr began reading a scripted ad about Shari’s Berries but during the ad, he went completely off script to make fun of the company and question what he was even supposed to be saying.
Shari’s Berries tried to get Burr to re-do the ad but he refused, feeling as if his audience would appreciate the ad. In the end, Burr won the argument and Shari’s Berries sales skyrocketed.
On top of getting your message aired to thousands of listeners, the podcast host in most cases will mention you on their social media channels (depending on which ones are active), website, and email/newsletter lists. This means that beyond the audio ad, your product or service will reach even more people.
Here are popular ways a podcaster may further promote your product or service and something that needs to be negotiated when writing up a contract:
This extra promotional outreach tilts the ROI in your favour so it cannot be overlooked.
After your podcast ads have aired and it's been close to a month, it's time to track the results of your podcast ad campaigns. Using your promo codes and unique URLs, you should have a clear idea which podcasts generated the most ROI for you. This is why testing matters!
In most cases, your first ad campaign is essentially a test campaign. For the next round, we recommend reordering a larger buy. Many brands will reorder ad spots for an entire quarter or half of a year.
The key is to test your ads for a longer period of time to get the results you want.
Insider Tip: We encourage brands and companies to take breaks and not air ads every day or week because you don’t want your ads to feel stale and overdone. For ads to work they have to feel fresh, new and interesting (plus it will keep audiences engaged and curious about your offering!).
But remember, on top of reordering shows that performed well for you, you should always set aside a what we like to call “test budget.” This budget should allow you to try out new shows to see what kind of ROI you achieve. You never know, there might be a new show around the corner that will become your best performer yet so make sure to keep your eyes and ears open.
A back catalog is a collection of a podcast's previously recorded episodes. Back catalog podcast episodes might still be listened to, shared quite regularly by audiences, and up for grabs when it comes to ad space.
Because back catalog episodes have already aired and don't seem like an obvious ad opportunity, this is a tactic many people don’t consider. But it’s a missed opportunity for some great ROI!
If you do decide to advertise in back catalog podcasts, purchase ad space on evergreen episodes that will continue to remain relevant for a longer period of time.
Creating and running a successful podcast advertising campaign requires careful planning and execution. With the growing popularity of podcasts, there has never been a better time to invest in this medium for promoting your business or brand.
By understanding your target audience, setting clear goals, creating engaging content, and partnering with the right podcast hosts, you can reach a wider audience and achieve your advertising objectives.
Remember to continually monitor and adjust your campaign based on data and feedback to optimize its effectiveness. With persistence and patience, a well-executed podcast advertising campaign can yield great results and help your brand stand out in today's competitive market.
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