How Much Does Podcast Advertising Cost?

By Emma Eret

Ever wondered how much it costs to sponsor a podcast? What exactly determines the price an advertiser would pay? Podcast advertising offers enormous opportunities for businesses and is an awesome way to get your ad out there without being overly invasive with how your brand is advertised. There are many different aspects that go into exactly how much it costs to place your ad within a podcast and the avenue you should take to do so.

Podcast advertising usually goes one of two ways: through a podcast network or directly through the host. The size of the podcast also has a significant role in how their advertising is determined. Choosing the route you want to take will determine the pricing of your advertisement.

Podcast ads are very unique in that the host of the podcast will usually read a script about the product or service instead of a playing a traditional ad produced by the company or advertising agency. Most people stay completely tuned in when an ad on their favorite podcast is playing and they’ll happily listen to what the ad is trying to convey. Given the audio nature of podcasts, listeners tend to hang on to every word, which makes them an excellent audience for advertisers who are trying to get their brands out there and recognized.

These listeners trust their podcast hosts and therefore don’t even engage in the thought of changing the channel or skipping the ad. Because they put their trust in the hands of their favorite podcast hosts, they are much more receptive to what the podcast is endorsing. The purpose of having the ads read by the actual host of the podcast and not a pre-recording is so that the ad feels more like a friend’s recommendation of a product or service instead of blatant advertisement. This unconventional advertising practice has proven to be very responsive by podcast listeners and successful in helping make millions for advertisers.

With the rise in podcast popularity over the last few years, companies are able to capitalize on their brand’s exposure with this growing media platform. The beauty of podcasts is that they can be as specific as weekly reviews of vegetarian recipes or as broad as exploring the topic of Outer Space.

You can target many different types of markets with the wide variety of podcasts that are out there. People are shifting from listening to music to listening to podcasts and advertisers are definitely aware of how this could benefit them. Whether they’re listening during their daily commute, or while walking the dog, over 75 million people are currently listening to podcasts each month, and advertisers are willing to spend a pretty penny to reach them.

What Is A Podcast Network?

A podcast network is essentially two or more podcasts that are managed under the same affiliation. The network usually manages a considerable number of podcasts and each podcast’s respective ad opportunities. In most cases, you can approach a network with the hopes to sponsor one of their podcasts and they in turn will help you to find the right fit for your client’s needs.

Typically you give the network a price range that you are willing to spend for the ad time and the market your client is trying to appeal. The podcast network then pulls together a list of options for you. Advertising packages range from podcast to podcast but still depend a great deal on the amount of listeners or downloads the podcast is generating.

There are pros and cons to teaming up with a podcast network for your podcast advertising needs. One of the pros of working with a podcast network are that you’re most likely teaming up with someone who has experience collaborating with companies and advertising firms. This can often times helps to streamline the overall podcast advertising process because those podcast networks will have a system in place that makes the whole process run more smoothly.

Another pro is that if you’re working with a podcast network, you’re likely going to be advertising on a podcast that has great audience outreach which can be very beneficial to your company or the company your advertising firm is representing. Podcast networks also help with other business aspects for podcasts which in turn gives the podcast more time to continue creating content, instead of stressing about finding their own advertisers, doing their own cross-promotion, licensing music, editing, etc. That’s what podcast networks are there for!

Some cons that are associated with being a part of a podcast network are having to hand over a portion of your profits to the network, giving up 100% of the podcast’s ad inventory for at least a year, and being in a contractual obligation with no guarantee that the network will sell ads or increase the podcasts following. Some of these cons are enough to make a podcast say no thanks, no matter how enticing the offer might be from a podcast network. At the end of the day, it’s your decision to figure out what is best for your podcast advertising needs and there is no definitive side that is better or worse for you to be on.

How Do Podcast Networks Price Their Podcasts?

Typically, there are two ways that advertisements run on a podcast: a 15 second pre-roll and a 60 second mid-roll. The 15 second pre-roll happens at the beginning of a podcast and the 60 second mid-roll happens in the middle of the podcast. The pre-roll advertisements are read before the real content of the podcast begins. The mid-roll advertisements happen about half way through the podcast, with a break right in the middle of the podcast’s content.

Sometimes advertisers also do end-roll advertisements which can be a great addition to the end of the podcast. It’s the last thing a listener hears before the end of the show and can also be like a final call to action to help drive more results from the ad. Many podcast advertisements will also offer a unique offer code, which allows sponsors to track how many conversions they are getting.

Networks price their podcasts by using a CPM impression model (cost per thousand impressions). The CPM model tends to be the industry favorite. Advertisers will pay a set price per every 1,000 downloads per episode. For example, let’s say your company is willing to pay $20 for every 1,000 listeners on a popular podcast. We’ll say that podcast has 200,000 listeners, meaning that you would pay four thousand dollars for ad time on their show.

However, Podcast advertising pricing is not based on an exact amount of streams or downloads. Their rates are often based on the consistent average downloads/streams that each episode gets within its first 30 to 60 days. This might sound like a lot of evaluation time but keep in mind that most podcasts reach over 90% of their target downloads within the first few days of their podcast being released.

Pricing for the following month of advertising on podcasts is usually determined by the number of impressions during the previous month. If there ends up being a huge growth from the prior month in terms of impressions, then you’ve lucked out with the advertising price locked in.

Another way to price out your advertisements is to purchase a set number of impressions from the network or host. You could purchase 300,000 impressions and your ad is served over a span of time, maybe 2 months or so, and then when it has hit the set number of impressions, the ad stops running and you pay the fixed CPM fee. Typical CPM rates are anywhere from $30-50.

How Much Does It Cost To Go Directly To A Host?

Sometimes you can go directly through the podcast website to get in touch with the host about potential advertising opportunities. This is typical for advertising with smaller podcasts that are newer and don’t get the level of inquires that larger podcasts do. In other cases, there are bigger fish in the podcast fishbowl that do their own advertising directly and are also tied to a network.

In that instance, you can still contact them directly for advertisement and see what kinds of packages they offer. On the flip side, there are also podcasts who you can not directly contact about advertising before they have strict contracts with a network and that’s when you would need to contact their podcast network instead.

When going directly through a host, you will typically find advertising pricing in their media kits where they outline their prices per episode and what the advertiser receives in exchange for the ad price. Similar to what you would find with sponsored posts on a blog. Sometimes, these prices are negotiable because you are partnering up directly with the podcast host, who is the one making the decision of how much to charge you for ad space.

What Going Direct Means

Going directly to the host of the podcast for advertising opportunities means that you are eliminating the middleman and going directly to the podcast host for potential sponsorship opportunities. This avenue of going direct can also allow you to negotiate more with the advertising pricing and a podcast network doesn’t take a cut, so often times you can get a better deal.

You can also negotiate more for bundles if the podcast also owns a blog or has a social media presence, while podcasts networks typically just deal with the podcast ad spots. Working directly with the podcast can also be a great way to build a relationship with a smaller entity and learn the ropes of advertising on a smaller podcast before branching out to larger audiences.

Some advertisers actually prefer going directly to the podcast host instead of a podcast network because there is more room for changes and more opportunity to work explicitly with what the main goal is for the advertiser and the podcast. Podcast networks tend to be a little more black and white with what they offer to advertisers while working directly with a podcast host can offer a bit more flexibility. This is especially helpful if you work for a small advertising firm or are in charge of advertising for your brand. You can gain valuable knowledge and experience working directly with a podcast host when barely breaking in to the podcast advertising medium.

The Bottom Line

Podcast advertising is an extremely beneficial tool for businesses, whether you are looking to sponsor a podcast, or looking for advertisers to sponsor your own podcast. Yet, only two thirds of podcasts have any sponsors and only about one third of podcasts sell just 30% of their ad space. The opportunities for advertisers to use podcasts as a medium are endless.

With the podcast industry on the rise, there isn’t a better time than now to partner up with a podcast host or podcast network to advertise your product. One of the most important things to remember when planning to advertise on a podcast, is to make sure the podcast you are planning to target is a right fit for your brand. This can make all the difference between your advertisement gaining substantial exposure or falling by the wayside.

Ultimately, the price of advertising on a podcast is determined by the size of the podcast and how many people are listening. It is up to you to decide what podcast would be the best fit and how their pricing will work with your advertising budget. Whether you decide to work directly with a podcast host or with a podcast network for your advertising needs, it is crucial to keep your end goal in mind when choosing what avenue is best.

Every podcast is different and comes with different ad opportunities, just as every ad is different. Brands that can truly understand what goes into podcast advertising and what makes the best fit for their advertising needs will see substantial success in their advertising to the podcast medium.

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