The Best Practices of Podcast Advertising for Marketers

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By Jenna Foley

It’s no mystery that the number of listeners tuning into podcasts have significantly increased over the past years. The reason is simple; podcasts have carved their way into our homes by accommodating our hectic and busy lifestyles. We always bounce from one task to another, but a fifteen-minute break can turn into anything since podcasts offer a variety of entertainment at our fingertips.

A vast majority of listeners tune in at home, but according to Podcast Insights, another 22% listen while they are in the car. Either they are escaping their daily commute, traveling or simply on the go. However, it’s apparent today that people are ditching today’s music and reshaping a classic form of entertainment. 

But along with entertainment comes marketing.

Podcast Advertising Facts

In June of 2019, Podcast Insights announced:

  • There are over 750,000 Podcasts available
  • There are 30 million episodes as of June 2019
  • 51% of the population listens to podcasts
  • 49% of the podcast audience listen at home
  • 80% listen to all or more of the episodes

Since there are over 750,000 podcasts, the topics appear endless, yet this allows everyone to have access to an “infinite” amount of entertainment. Every listener can search for their specific genre of entertainment, ensuring their active participation with the show. Once a topic has been selected, searching for the ideal Host with appropriate content begins.

However, topics are only the tip of the iceberg, because underneath them lies over 30 million episodes for our leisure. With this volume, listeners are guaranteed to find shows suitable for them, even with the toughest of requirements.

Over half the population now listens to podcasts. It only makes sense that advertising has made the journey over, especially since we know that a vast majority of listeners are listening to the show. We can track this. Consistency is key to brand marketing. In fact, it’s everything

Finding Your Audience

Podcast marketing may appear daunting, but once broken down, it can be applied to a variety of advertising campaigns. You may find yourself asking the common question: “How do I begin marketing through a podcast?” But before we jump into that, let’s take a second to discover our target audience. We begin the journey by searching for our audience’s interests, goals, and values to better understand how a product or service will benefit them.

After the primary research is obtained and your audience is selected, then you can forge a unique plan by picking an advertisement standard and format. These will become the next steps down the road to obtaining the best marketing plan for success.

Digital + Traditional PR

Advertising Standards

Advertising standards are established to prevent any interruption in the flow of the podcast. Maximizing the listeners’ engagement and outreach of an ad. Occasionally there will be times where an advertisement can flow into the conversation passively. This is another advertising strategy called Ad-Flow but can be unreliable if it doesn’t fit into the topic well, disrupting the flow and listeners’ engagement simultaneously. 

The best standards currently are:

  • 15-second Pre-roll
  • 60-second Mid-roll
  • 30-second Post-roll

15-Second Pre-roll

These types of advertisements are placed at the beginning of podcasts, and can either be prerecorded or live-read by the Host. Placing an ad at the beginning of a podcast minimizes its potential of being skipped as the listener is settling down to listen. It also maximizes a listener’s engagement.  

60-Second Mid-roll

Similar to pre-rolls, mid-rolls are placed in… you guessed it, the middle. This format allows the advertisement to run since it’s hidden within the middle of the podcast. Additionally, this content is written into the show either in an audio clip or live-read by the Host. 

30-Second Post-roll

Unfortunately, post-rolls are uncommon. Simply because listeners know when the Host(s) is wrapping up the show and can exit out or move on to the next episode before the advertisement begins. 

The preferred methods of podcast marketing are 15-second pre-roll and the 60-second mid-roll. Typically, they’re the most effective. 

Pricing

As podcasts continue to grow, advertising does too (and its price tag). John Lee Dumas provides us with a formula used to calculate prices for various time slots. These are the standard and general rates that the majority of Host (s) adhere to when advertising.

  • 15-second Pre-roll: $18 per 1,000 listeners or CPMs
  • 60-second Mid-roll: $25 per 1,000 listeners or CPMs
  • 30-second Post-roll: $10 per 1,000 listeners or CPMs

The more followers a podcast has will increase the cost of placing an advertisement into that slot. But one thing to remember if you invest in podcast advertising: the higher number of listeners will also include a greater outreach and communicate your message further than other podcasts with fewer listeners. Feedback will also become crucial, but we’ll dive into that later. 

Advertising Format

Now that we have grasped how to target our audience and understand the advertising standards, let’s jump into advertising format. There are four best methods to advertising via podcasts that have been successful, these include:

  • The Host(s)
  • Endorsement
  • Custom Segments
  • Branded Series

The Host(s) 

The Host’s format is purely decided by… you guessed it, the Host(s). This is based solely on the Host’s personal and positive experience with a brand they have encountered. This form of marketing becomes the cheapest option for advertising since the Host(s) already enjoyed your product before anyone has reached out to them. It’s also a great way to create a foothold. 

  • Listener First AttitudeWhen creating content or advertisements, the Host(s) take extensive care when choosing their advertisers due to the active relation listeners have to the show and their trusted Host. The Listener First Attitude will apply to all advertising formats; you don’t want to be preaching to the wrong choir.

Endorsement 

Giving the Host(s) a real taste of a brand that has been discounted is a crucial strategy to having your brand discussed on podcasts. When the Host praises a brand, their listeners will respect and trust the Host’s opinion. We know this because 80% of listeners return for additional episodes. Not only is consistency good for the podcast, but it’s excellent brand exposure for the marketer.

Custom Segments 

Custom Segments is where the Host and advertiser team-up with producers to create content or an advertisement around a specific topic. The goal is to transition this with the podcast organically to avoid disrupting the natural flow of the Host(s). Segments are typically 5 minutes and allow all parties to have an active voice in the process.

Branded Series 

Instead of buying time or creating a 5-minute segment, a branded series is a dedicated podcast to a specific brand. The brand being marketed will have all, if not significant, control over the editorial content and execution that goes into it. Some companies that already do this according to Backtracks are:

  • General Electric (G.E.) – The Message
  • McDonald’s – The Sauce
  • Sephora – #LIPSTORIES
  • Blue Apron – Why We Eat What We Eat
  • ZipRecruiter – Rise and Grind
  • eBay – Open for Business
  • Basecamp – The Distance
  • Johnson & Johnson – Innovation
  • Microsoft – .future
  • Slack – Slack Variety Pack

Tools

Advertising formats generate a voice in the podcasting world, but another feature they provide is ears that receive feedback communicated in numbers. They do this by collecting valuable information and data designed to improve your advertising strategy. A marketer must adapt their strategy to keep aim at their target audience, and that requires constant monitoring of your tools.

These are some tools designed to help you keep track of your listeners:

  • Promo Codes
  • Vanity URLs
  • Baked-in

Promo Codes

Numerous sources provide you with statistics; however, promo codes pinpoint precisely where your consumers hear about your advertised brand. Statistics deliver crucial information and data that allows adjustments to be executed in marketing strategies to discover the best method to stay ahead of the game. Each campaign is unique and custom to the marketer’s needs and goals.

Vanity URLs

Much like Promo Codes, Vanity URLs direct listeners to a webpage. Providing information that monitors the increase of listeners and downloads per day, week, month, and year. With this information, a marketer can adjust advertisements as they see fit while still hitting their target audience. Or perhaps the target audience has changed.

Baked-in

Unlike Promo Codes and Vanity URLs, baked-in advertisements presented via podcast are baked-in to the show permanently. Still don’t get it? Your ad is a live recording. Unlike T.V. it can’t be off-air, and unlike a magazine or newspaper, it can’t be out of print. It will remain cemented online forever. Additionally, every consumer will be receiving the same advertisement each play or download.

Why It Works?

What is more reliable than someone you trust and respect giving you a great review of a brand they’re championing? Nothing, because it has been presented through a medium that is trusted. Podcast advertising operates similarly to that of word-of-mouth; people trust and respect their Host.

Similar to influencer marketing, the Host(s) will carefully ponder which product to market on their show. Listeners already have the trust of the Host(s), but it’s the Host(s) responsibility to believe in the product that they’re advertising. This builds credibility and establishes a reliable connection with each listener, resulting in a safe exchange of their experience.

Sources: 

Backtracks. 10 Successful Branded Podcasts

https://backtracks.fm/blog/10-successful-branded-podcasts-4d2179340f67

Podcast Insights. 2019 Podcast Stats & Facts (New Research From June 2019)

https://www.podcastinsights.com/podcast-statistics/

Fire nation. Podcast Sponsorships: The Ultimate Guide

https://www.eofire.com/podcast-sponsorships/

iab. Podcasts Playbook: A Guide for Marketers 

https://www.iab.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/IAB_Podcast-Playbook_v8.pdf

Forbes. A Survival Guide to Podcast Advertising

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/08/01/a-survival-guide-for-podcast-advertising/#4d2c632f4f70

 Forbes. 10 Agency Pros Share Their Best Podcast Advertising Tips

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2019/07/18/10-agency-pros-share-their-best-podcast-advertising-tips/#2b8a278d31cd

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