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Marketing Channel: Podcast Advertising

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About Marketing Channel: Podcast Advertising

One look through Apple iTunes or the Google Play Store and you'll see thousands of podcasts that will pique your interest. No matter the topic, theme, or style, it’s likely that a podcast exists that matches what you’re looking for. 

Podcasts are more ubiquitous now, but it wasn’t always the case. Prior to their present popularity, podcasts were previously known as "Audio blogging." It wasn’t until late 2004 into early 2005 that podcasts saw a significant rise in popularity.

The number of active podcast programs exceeded 525,000 in 2020, producing an estimated 18.5 million episodes.

With their rise in popularity, podcasts have presented a unique and engaging way for audiences to consume information and be entertained. They’ve also presented an interesting way for brands and advertisers to reach listeners through podcast advertising.

WHAT IS PODCAST ADVERTISING?

Podcast advertising involves placing audio or display ads that contain information about a brand, company, event etc. on a podcast. It's a powerful but oftentimes misunderstood marketing channel.

Once thought to only be a brand channel that could be used to build brand awareness and run top-of-funnel campaigns, more and more advertisers are realizing that it’s a medium you can use to reach every aspect of your funnel in a meaningful, trackable and attributable way. 

HOW TO GET STARTED WITH PODCAST ADVERTISING

When it comes to podcast advertising campaigns, there are a number of different options to choose from that range from simple, one-off ad insertions to more comprehensive, long-term podcast sponsorships or even the creation of your own podcast.

If you’re thinking about investing in podcast advertising, here are a few strategies you can consider:

  1. CREATE YOUR OWN PODCAST: If you want to own the conversation and build a community as the authority on a particular topic, creating your own podcast is a great way to do so. This approach, however, takes a significant amount of time, energy and resources.

    Creating a successful podcast is much like creating an enterprise-level blog and requires you to consistently post high-quality content. If you’re aiming for at least one hour of content per week, you can expect to invest in the range of $75-$100K per year to run your podcast and you can expect to build a listenership of more than 10,000 downloads a month.

  1. ADVERTORIAL CONTENT If you’re not ready to invest the resources into creating your own podcast then one of the most effective ways to take advantage of the medium is through advertorial content and being a guest on shows. Podcasts are trending toward a "Pay-to-play," model which allows people who have knowledge worth sharing to easily gain guest spots on shows.

    Rates for advertorial content can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars.  If you have authority and influence on a subject, there is also the opportunity for you to be an invited guest on a podcast which can establish your brand and reach new listeners without having to create the podcast yourself. This strategy often requires you to do the pitch yourself or have a PR team handling this outreach for you.

  2. MEDIA BUYING Another way to do podcast advertising is by buying media through platforms like Midroll. In this structure, you advertise on a CPM model and typically pay a certain amount per every 1,000 downloads. Podcast advertising rates can vary but typically cost $25 to $50 per ad placement. The price varies based on the podcast's popularity and where the ad is placed, whether it's a pre-roll ad, mid-roll ad, or post-roll ad. These types of podcast ad spots are typically host-read ads read by a podcast host. This can prove beneficial for a brand because ads that are host-read pass on an inferred credibility and approval of the host to the podcast listeners. The CPM model does have limitations.

    Take for example that you have a podcast that has 10,000 downloads a month. If you have an ad in the episode that you charge $25 for, it would mean you’re only making $250 a month which is not close to enough to sustain a successful podcast business. This is one of the reasons that here at the MarTech Podcast, we take a different approach and prefer the Dynamic Insertion model for podcast advertising. Using this model, we sell on a weekly or monthly basis at a higher rate but are able to offer our media buyers a sophisticated attribution system that allows them to rationalize the higher rate by understanding whether the ads are converting or not.

  3. DYNAMIC INSERTION With this model, instead of having a baked in ad that is permanently part of the episode, dynamic insertion allows for real-time ad swapping. This allows us to consistently serve relevant ads across our podcast catalog at any time and on-demand. With the Dynamic Insertion model, there are platforms (like Knit.com) that allow you to record your own ads and have them inserted into multiple podcasts.

    These ad types don’t have the credibility of host-read ads but they do offer the ability to be in a wide range of podcasts at a discounted rate. If you have  a great product and message and you need mass media reach, running that media through dynamic insertion may be the best option.

When it comes to running ad campaigns, one additional option to consider is looking into a Podcast Network. Instead of advertising in a single podcast episode or show, podcast networks contain multiple podcasts under their umbrella that cover various topics and reach multiple audiences.

WHY PODCAST ADVERTISING? 

Advertisers in the digital age are constantly fighting to grab the attention of their audience. Whether it’s through display ads, billboards, or TV ads, the reality is these marketing channels can fall flat or not reach their intended audience.

People who no longer trust traditional advertising, or simply don't like it, install Ad Blockers to their browsers to avoid marketing entirely.

Podcast advertising on the other hand has been seeing great results so it’s no wonder why brands and advertisers have been singing its praises.

Unlike other forms of advertising, podcast ads have a higher conversion rate because the listeners tend to be more engaged compared to other channels. They also trust the host (who is often the person voicing the podcast ad), and it’s easier to target listeners more accurately based on the theme of the podcast.

Contrary to popular belief that podcast ads are only effective for top-of-funnel advertising, podcast ads are actually beneficial throughout all stages of the funnel process.

Here is how podcast ads can be beneficial to all stages of the sales funnel:

  • TOP OF FUNNEL: Podcasts give brands an opportunity to reach new audiences and create awareness about their products and services in a format that provides much greater depth and higher engagement compared to other mediums. It’s also an effective way to build authority and become an expert in a particular topic.

  • MIDDLE OF FUNNEL: Podcasts provide a medium where you can consistently reach the same audience with longer form advertising. They provide a format that allows podcast listeners to be educated on a particular brand so they can move beyond awareness and learn how to engage in meaningful ways.

  • BOTTOM OF FUNNEL: Many brands today are missing out on the opportunity to convert more leads because they do not view or approach podcast advertising as a performance marketing channel. There are a number of ways that they can incorporate direct response marketing into their podcast ads including through vanity URLs or more sophisticated analytics such as retargeting and lookalike lists.

Here at the MarTech podcast, our platform gives sponsors the ability to have a better sense of how many people they're reaching and how many are actually converting based on their ads. Our attribution model also allows them to create retargeting and lookalike lists to help drive leads through their funnel.

THE PROBLEM WITH PODCAST ADVERTISING

One of the biggest complaints that advertisers have when running podcast advertising campaigns is attribution. There is not enough reliable and trackable analytics to know the true business impact of running podcast ads.

This is because most podcasters can only offer advertisers very basic analytics like the number of downloads. Very few truly understand how many people they’re really reaching and if those people are converting based on the ads they’re served.


At the end of the day, what really matters is not how many are downloading the podcast but how many people the podcast is reaching and if those people are driving a business impact.

A podcast download is simply access to a file. It is not synonymous with a listener. Downloads are not people.

THE MARTECH PODCAST SOLUTION

At the MarTech Podcast, we’ve invested a significant amount in providing our sponsors with an attribution and analytics model that measures real business impact.

This model goes beyond providing basic analytics like the number of downloads of the podcast and instead uses identity verification services like Podsights to connect IP addresses with mobile app IDs to not only provide the number of ad plays but also household reach and frequency.

Most importantly, because we have access to mobile app id for listeners, we’re able to provide a tracking pixel that tells our sponsors if the people who have listened to the podcast go to their website.

With that information, we have the ability to create both retargeting audiences for our sponsors, which allows them to target people who are in various stages of the funnel with more touch points and direct response marketing to move them toward the end conversion goal.

Our attribution model at the MarTech podcast also allows us to create lookalike audiences based on the people who have heard our sponsors’ ads and engaged with their brand. This provides our sponsors with an opportunity to syndicate content and reach audiences outside of our existing podcast audience who have a propensity to be interested in their content. They can then reach out to them through programmatic and paid social ads.

Podcast advertising can be a very powerful marketing channel for all stages of the marketing funnel if done effectively.

At the end of the day, what matters most is the ability to reach a prospect with the right message, at the right time and at the right place, and with the tech we’re building at the MarTech podcast, we are proud to help podcast advertisers reach marketers in new and effective ways.

If marketers are your target audience, we’d love to have a conversation with you and talk about how you can reach our engaged audience of tens of thousands of marketers. 

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