A man with dark hair and ear buds in his ears, holds his cellphone in both hands and smiles, enjoying what he is listening to.

What You Need to Know About Advertising in Podcasts

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Podcast advertising has been picking up speed for years and is only going to grow. Projections show that the US market will double podcast ad spending between 2017 to 2020 (making podcast advertising a $659 million dollar industry).

Amazingly, even with those figures, podcast advertising is still dwarfed by spending on radio and TV ads. In fact, according to Adweek, podcast advertising is lagging as brands and agencies struggle to understand the medium, ad formats and even who is listening.

If you’re in this ‘hesitant camp,’ we’ll walk you through the amazing world of podcasts – including who is listening to podcasts, and the right advertising formats to help reach would-be fans of your brand.

Here’s what you need to know about advertising in podcasts.

Demographics of Podcast Listeners in the US

Spending ad dollars wisely always boils down to investing in brand placement with the right demographic. While it’s true that each show has its own demographics, it turns out that podcast listeners, on the whole, have a few special characteristics.

Here’s what Edison research revealed about podcast fans:

  • 26% or 73 million Americans tune into podcasts monthly, and 17% (or 48 million) listen weekly.
  • Weekly listeners tune in for over 6 hours each week, on average.
  • Listenership is almost equally split between males (52%) and females (48%).
  • Audiences are well-educated (college or post graduate degree holders), and affluent: 51% of listeners earn salaries that range between $75K and $150K+.
  • Podcast fans are even more likely to have a voice assistant in their home. While about 18% of Americans have a Google Home or Alexa, among podcast fans, that statistic rises to 30%.

Benefits of Advertising in Podcasts

According to a study conducted by comScore, podcast ads are considered to be the least intrusive form of digital advertising, while additional research discovered that podcast ads are incredibly effective. Approximately two-thirds of listeners aged 18 to 49 have acted on ads they heard in a podcast, either by researching a product or service or by actually purchasing something they first heard about in an episode.

Brands that are notorious for capitalizing on the audio medium, such as Casper Mattresses, Blue Apron, SquareSpace and more, are surely seeing success from their efforts. Stats from NPR, the most popular podcast producer in the U.S. would appear to support this. On the NPR sponsorship page they boldy state that 79% have taken action in response to a sponsorship announcement in an NPR podcast.

All About Podcast Ad Formats and Styles

Advertising in the podcast medium is not the same as advertising on radio – even though both mediums are audio-based. For instance, podcast ads tend to steer away from the booming, announcer-style voices and highly-produced messaging you may be familiar with hearing on your favorite FM station.

Types of Podcast Ad Insertions

Ads can be inserted into a show in a variety of spots, but the three most common points are:

  1. Pre-Roll: Ad appears at the very start of the show. Example, “This show is brought to you by our sponsor, [sponsor name + short pitch].”

  2. Mid-Roll: At the show’s midpoint, there is a break inserted where hosts introduce advertisements and/or advertisements begin. Example, “Hey everyone, we hope you’re enjoying the show. We’d like to take just a moment to thank our sponsors for making this amazing content possible. [sponsor name+short pitch].”
  3. Post-Roll: At the end of the show. Example, “Support for [show name] is brought to you by [sponsor name + pitch].”

Types of Podcast Ad Formats and Scripts

Advertising format and scripting on podcasts is nuanced and there are a couple different formatting strategies you should be aware of. Two of the most popular are:

1. Host Voiced Podcast Ads

Because these scripted ads are delivered through the host him or herself, these ads bring associated trust and credibility to the message at hand. Comparatively, these ads are similar to an endorsement. The format can range from being scripted, ad libbed, or put into the host’s own words and experience (endorsed). Typically, these ads are woven throughout the episode. Usually not accompanied by music or any other special signal, these ads are known for creating a smooth transition for the listener.

2. Fully Produced/Hybrid Podcast Ads

Ads in this format may be accompanied by music and audio cues and typically feature a new voice (other than the host). The new voice is either from someone else who is a part of the podcast production team, from the sponsor company, or a voice actor.

An effective way to introduce a produced ad, is by having the host set the listener up for what they are about to hear and to produce your ad in such a manner that it fits the same productive vibe and style as the show it’s embedded in.

Here’s how NPR achieves this with a format they call Brand Soundscapes. Listen to how the host, Guy Raz, makes the transition into the produced content by Kia, and note how the vibe and feel of the ad content matches the journalistic (docu-style) of NPR.

You can also visit NPR to view a variety of podcast ad examples that they produce.

How to Buy Podcast Advertising

If you’re interested in exploring advertising in podcasts, you have a few options. You can hand select and contact the shows that you feel would be a good fit. For instance, NPR has their own page dedicated to sponsorship information.

Alternatively, you can work with a company that connects advertisers to suitable podcasts. Midroll is one such service provider.

Here are some insights from podcast hosts on the sponsorship package types that they offer.

Podcast Sponsorship Offers More than Audio Ads

When you start to dig into sponsorship opportunities for podcast shows, you’ll quickly discover that many creators are keen to offer sponsors the best value for their ad dollars.

For instance, becoming a show sponsor can earn you spots not just in the show itself, but also on that show’s other media channels – such as social media, email, their website and more.

Larry Jordan, from Digital Production Buzz explains, “We have an integrated approach on sponsorship packages. We’ve integrated the podcast with our social channels, mailing lists, and public events.”

John Wall, from Marketing Over Coffee gives an example of how the show is conscientious of offering sponsors the best opportunity for exposure. “We offer quarterly sponsorship packages with the show,” he says. “Vendors can come in and get 10 episodes over 3 months, [but] we limited it to two [sponsors at a time], so there are only two companies per quarter.”

Taking Podcast Advertising to the Next Level: Launching a Corporate Podcast

Sometimes, advertising on someone else’s podcast is just the start of leveraging the audio medium to your brand’s advantage.

Some companies are going beyond the 15-30 second spot and launching their own podcast shows. This content marketing play is a clever one for brands who can find the right topic that crosses over between what their company offers, and what their core customers care about. For instance, like Blue Apron (the meal delivery service) did with their show Why We Eat What We Eat.

You can learn all about the benefits of podcasting for your brand in this post [link url /blog/brand-benefits-of-podcasting/.

Will You, or Have You, Taken the Podcast Advertising Plunge?

Especially with the rise in popularity of voice activated assistants, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, many companies are starting to have their curiosity piqued over the potential of audio ads in podcasts and beyond.

We’d love to hear about your thoughts, feelings and experiences with advertising in podcasts – whether you’re a brand, a show producer or a podcast listener.

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