Table of Contents

Introduction

How to Advertise on Podcasts

How to Measure Podcast Advertisements

Choose a Trusted Podcast Advertising Partner

Conclusion

Intro to Podcast Advertising

Podcast  advertising is the ability for brands to pay for placement of their advertising within various podcast shows.  Podcast ads can be bought directly from podcast show hosts or programmatically using an audience-based buying approach.

  • Audio Ads (pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll)
  • Host Read Endorsements (pre-recorded or live)
  • Voiced-Over Ad Reads (pre-recorded by someone other than show host)
  • Custom Segments
  • Branded Series
  • Presenting Sponsorships

Is Podcast Advertising Effective?

This is a common question we hear from our new clients.  They want to know how investing in podcast advertising will ultimately drive meaningful business impact and fortunately there is a great deal of research on this exact topic.  Ad Results Media teamed up with Edison Research to conduct a quantitative study on various aspects of the overall effectiveness of podcast advertising - including ad recall, engagement and purchase intent.

According to the Super Listeners 2021 report, Podcast ads are the most recalled type of ad – with 86% of respondents saying they remember seeing or hearing an ad.  Social Media and websites trail podcasts with 80% and 79% respectively.

According to the same study, Podcast listeners also scored high in terms of engagement with ads, as well as responsiveness with 76% of listeners saying they’ve taken action after hearing a podcast ad, which could include visiting a site, making a purchase, or taking out a subscription.

Related Content:

How Much Does Podcast Advertising Cost?

Spot costs for ads can materially vary and are dependent on numerous factors.  The basic formula when determining how much one spot ad will cost is based on the CPM rate the media is being sold for (cost per 1,000 downloads) multiplied by the size of the show’s audience (how many downloads per episode).   

CPM x # of episode downloads = ad spot cost

Other variables such as whether the ad is a pre-roll, mid-roll, post roll, a live-endorsement or pre-recorded ad voiced over by someone other than the show host, whether the ad is baked into the show permanently or dynamically inserted with a limited run time and the length of the ad (:15, :30, :60, or longer) are also considered.   

For more specific pricing information, please contact the Ad Results Media team for a free consultation.

Which Brands are Leveraging Podcast Advertising?

When you look for which brands are the top spenders in podcast advertising, names like ZipRecuiter, Stamps.com, Noom, Roman Health, MolsonCoors and Geico often pop to the top of the lists.   All of these brands have two things in common, they are looking for new avenues to reach highly desirable and engaged audiences in a highly effective manner and care about performance which is measured by both direct sales and brand lift.  It truly is one of media’s best open secrets and it’s why it has been one of the fastest growing advertising mediums over the last few  years.

We believe that podcast advertising is the ultimate driver of brand marketing success.  Our clients have been able to demonstrate impressive and meaningful results.

Develop a Podcast Media Buying Strategy

Understand Your Audience

It is critical to use both audience affinity data and historical performance data to select the shows that will be the most effective for your brand to lead its foray into podcast advertising.  

We recommend you identify the top 2-3 affinities that index high with your audience and do a search for podcasts that focus on the lifestyles and passion points of your customers.  Next, we recommend you vet those shows using their historical performance data and their propensity to drive your KPIs.

Find the Right Podcasts

There are a lot, and I mean a lot of podcasts to choose from.  When a brand sets out to find shows that will resonate with their target audiences, the prospects may seem endless.  In the same way finding the perfect influencer partners on social media can seem overwhelming and manual, now imagine doing that without the functionality of the social media platforms and the additional benefit of hashtags. 

Once you make a list of potential podcast advertising partners, you need to begin vetting them for campaign fit by downloading and listening to at least two or three of their episodes.  This will help you get a feel for the content and tonality of their show and what type of ad creative may resonate best.   This is also far more arduous than simply scrolling through an influencer’s Instagram feed to get a sense of brand fit and content style.

When you partner with a specialty agency that has successfully run tens of thousands of campaigns, they have proprietary tools that assist with the selection process as well as historical knowledge and relationships with the top-performing shows by genre to reduce vetting time.  For example, at Ad Results Media we leverage our granular level of expertise, built over 20 years, 1000’s of touch points, 6,000 individual podcasts tested and performance data collected.

Live Host-Read Ads vs Pre-Recorded Programmatic Podcast Advertising 

There is currently a friendly debate going on within the audio community.  Each opposing viewpoint has both research, historical performance data and marketplace momentum behind them.  So how do we reconcile this?  Who is correct? 

In the debate between which is better - host live read ads that are baked-in to the show or pre-produced (host read or voiced over) ads that are bought programmatically– Ad Results Media believes they are both critical components within your overall media mix.  They work to augment one another’s inherent strengths and deliver even greater results when run in tandem. 

Read full article here

Determine Podcast Placement Types

What are the Types of Podcast Ads?

  • Pre Roll:  Ads that are usually 15-30 seconds long and run before or after the show’s intro.
  • Mid Roll: Ads that are 30-60 seconds and are inserted around the midpoint of an episode.
  • Post Roll:  Ads that are 15-30 seconds and run at the end of the show.

How are Podcast Ads Placed on Shows?

  • Live endorsed ads:   These are performed by the show’s host and are executed naturally within the flow of the show.
  • DAI: Dynamic ad insertion leverages pre-produced ads (host or non-host read) and uses server-side ad technology to insert audio ads into live linear programming on-demand based on a myriad of factors including geo and audience-based targets.

What are the Types of Podcast Ad Reads?

  • Host Read: Live Read or Dynamically Inserted ads that are recorded by the host
  • Non-Host Read:  Ads that are read by someone other than the host.  Also called, “voiced-over” ads.

How to Develop Podcast Advertising Creative

We recommend starting your advertising test and learn strategy with host live-read ads and ensure they incorporate key creative best practices.  The power of persuasive podcast advertising is super-charged by the authentic and believable endorsement of the host.  Therefore, it’s important to give the host some creative freedom to deliver your brand’s messages in a manner that they believe will best resonate with their listeners.  Develop a comprehensive and adaptable messaging brief that includes your recommended messaging hierarchy, content do’s, don’ts and mandatories and a list of the desired actions you would like the listeners to take after hearing your ads. This is the type of information the host needs to craft effective baked-in ads - delivered in their voice with cultural relevance.

Listen to our On the Mic series about developing podcast advertising creative:

How to Measure Podcast Advertising

There are many effective ways to measure success for your brand and calculate ROI.  As with any relatively nascent media channel it comes with some measurement and attribution challenges, but we have come a long way and there are a number of methods that can be used as standalone solutions or in conjunction with other methods to paint a more robust picture. 

Although a number of these methods offer more granular attribution when a brand controls its own point of sale, effective measurement is not limited to direct-to-consumer marketers only.  With recent advancements and new capabilities offered by 3rd party providers, virtually any business model can structure an effective test and learn campaign to begin to establish a baseline ROI for podcast advertising.

The following measurement methods work across all common types of podcast advertising formats:

Direct Response Methods

1. Promocodes

In order to drive trial, incentivize purchase or enable mass sampling efforts, brands can offer a custom promocode on each podcast they are advertising on.  A podcast host will include mentions of the promocode in the main content of the episode or they can be promoted using more traditional ads and companion units.  Creating a unique promocode for each podcast or podcast episode is a great way to capture granular show-level data to establish who is more efficiently driving sales.  In order for this to be effective, it is critical to make sure your technical infrastructure supports the capability to create and track multiple unique promocodes and your sales channels (direct or through a 3rd party) can accept promocodes and provide reporting data on usage.

2. Vanity URLs

Brands who are trying to drive immediate conversations or generate more broad-based consideration and engagement, can measure their success using vanity tracking URLs.  This tried and true direct response measurement tactic is just as relevant today for podcasting as it has historically been for DRTV.  One way to create a more seamless transition and “warm handoff” when using vanity tracking URLs is to create custom landing pages that mention the referring content, offer or podcast.  These will reaffirm to the consumer that they are in the right place as well as generate a little good will by reminding them that your brand is supporting their favorite podcasts with your advertising. 

Similar to making sure your technical infrastructure supports unique promocodes, same rules apply to vanity tracking URLs.  You need to be able to generate and track these URLs with ease and granularity.

3. Surveys

“How did you hear about us?” surveys are an excellent way to augment automated tracking data with self-reported responses from consumers.  When a consumer looks to make a purchase directly from a brand or through one of their various other sales channels, asking them where they heard about the brand is a great way to attribute exposure and, more importantly, recall and channel effectiveness.  Listening to a podcast demands your full attention and an advertiser’s message is often more salient and memorable than on other channels.  Asking a consumer which channel they attribute for their visit or purchase can prove out the importance or persuasiveness of podcast advertising.

Direct Response + Attribution Based Methodologies 

4. Pixels

The newest addition to the podcast measurement ecosystem is using pixels to track exposure and subsequent website activity.  One of the fundamental challenges with this method is that podcast listening often occurs “offline”, after the podcast episode has been downloaded.  Therefore podcast downloads are considered impressions – whether the user has listened to the episode or been exposed to our ads.  While this can be very frustrating, there are several 3rd party measurement partners that are generating technical solutions to pixeling the RSS feed that is used to download the podcast file and then tracking the user’s resulting visits to your site.  While this is by no means perfect, the important benefit is that it actualizes the ability to measure many more success metrics including: Impressions, CPM, Average Order Value (AOV), Cost per Acquisition (CPA), Total Sales and Total Site Visits. 

5. Brand Lift Studies

For brands that do not offer consumers a direct conversion opportunity or simply want greater insight into how effectively they are communicating with new or existing audiences, Brand Lift studies offer a great measurement solution.  Brand Lift studies are designed to measure a variety of outcomes, ranging from brand perception to purchase intent, using online surveys.  These surveys most often use either a “pre/post” or “controlled exposure” methodology.  

A pre/post survey is designed to measure the impact that the ad exposure had on achieving the desired outcomes by surveying both the exposed and control groups and calculating the incremental lift of the exposed group.  With pre/post surveys the primary criteria for recruitment is whether or not you have been exposed to the ad.  These surveys are excellent tools for measuring ROI or ROAS.

A controlled exposure study is generally used to measure specific aspects of ad effectiveness against a defined audience who has been conclusively exposed to the ad content.  When a consumer is served a controlled exposure survey, they are asked a series of pre-qualifying questions to ensure they fall within the correct audience segment(s).  Then they are asked to respond to a survey on their impressions of the ad - including message, relevance, creativity, resonance, etc. These surveys are great tools for refining your ad strategy for your target audiences.

As marketers, we all strive to achieve full funnel measurement that helps us understand the impact our advertising has on the full consumer journey.  At Ad Results Media, our measurement specialists work with our clients to develop measurement plans that utilize one or more of these measurement methods to get a more full funnel picture.  Please contact us today to request a consultation. 

Choose a Trusted Podcast Advertising Agency

As the podcast advertising space begins to mature and welcomes more and more advertisers, the solutions will begin to become more turnkey – but until that time, specialty agencies bring the expertise, tools and solutions to navigate this space successfully.  

Ad Results Media has the unique ability to centralize a fragmented industry into one touch point.  We offer multi-platform audience access across many different content and network vendors versus dealing with multiple points of contact, including:

  • Single point of contact for thousands of outlets
  • Streamlined order entry and billing capabilities
  • Dedicated media analyst team specializing in audio performance analysis
  • Proprietary SoundGrade platform and entire department dedicated to ad grading, ads compliance, and brand safety
  • Dedicated Creative team for all ads development and ads trafficking
  • Dedicated team for client and new host onboarding calls to ensure brand message, tone, feel and call to action is perfect.

Conclusion

Weekly audio listening has hit an all-time high, with 176M Americans tuning in every week.  Along with this increased reach, they also added an additional 1 hour of listening time. The average time spent in 2021 with online audio was 16 hours, 14 minutes, up from 15 hours, 12 minutes in 2020*.  

Podcast listenership is also at all-time high, with 116M monthly listeners.  On average, these listeners consume 8 podcast episodes a week from 5 different podcast shows*.

At Ad Results Media, we believe that the best measurement solutions capture the signals from one or more of the four measurement methods and analyze the results in the context of your business model, technical capabilities and campaign objectives.  We work with all of our clients to create a custom measurement plan and model their brand’s ROI.

 

*Infinite Dial 2021