Getting Started with Podcasts

By Ken Lagana, EVP, Digital Sales, Audacy


Advertising in podcasts can be as easy as listening to them. Not sure where to begin? Here’s a quick-start guide with answers to frequent questions and some you didn’t even think to ask.

How do brands buy on podcasts?

The key to buying and selling podcasts is flexibility.  There is no one right answer.  It depends on what’s right for the brand and the KPI. Advertisers have the ability to select a specific podcast by series, episodically, by genre, by audience segment or across a podcast network.

What are the options to buy advertising on a podcast, and when is each appropriate?

A: The first option is the host read, what you generally think of when you think of podcast advertising.  The host of the podcast will literally talk about your product, brand or service and in some cases apply a personal experience.  This has historically been a great vehicle for DTC brands to raise awareness but also ring the cash register.
B. As more and more brands continue to migrate to podcast advertising they are doing so using impression-based buys that allow for deeper targeting, such as geographic-and audience-segmented ads across a “network of shows”.  This is relatively new to the space but has been highly effective for brands, and the ability to layer in attribution or brand studies provides the ability to actually prove performance. 
 Custom series were developed to help brands educate consumers about the offer, product, features and benefits, etc. Custom episodes, are designed to reach core fans of a series allowing for 100% share of voice to a brand. Custom segments, billboards, social extensions and brand integrations on audio and video are also all available.
D. Lastly, some brands have taken advantage of partnering with podcasters to create a full branded content series 
 an episodic show (usually related to the brand’s industry) that only makes small passing mentions of the host company while diving into a specific topic and/or featuring relevant guests. Lexus’ Go and See is a great example of a branded podcast.

What type of audience do you reach on podcast?

The popular myth now is that podcasts are only for hyper targeting. However, with the growth of the medium over the last few years, podcasting is in that enviable stage of being able to be targeted AND have mass reach. Advertisers can place messages in a specific show geared towards female millennials, for example, or as a mass impression buy targeting sports fans across a network.

Can an ad be geographically targeted toward a local market only?

Yes, however it’s important to understand the total reach and where the audience is. On-demand content from local stations continues to be a great way to target a local audience in smaller markets, whereas national programming performs well when combining mid-size to larger markets.

How long should podcast campaigns run?

Every campaign is different, and it depends on the objectives. Commonly, we recommend four weeks. That may run consecutively or with a break in the middle, based on goals, offers and expected lift.

Are discount codes for listeners required?

Not at all. Direct-to-consumer advertisers may use codes to track performance. However, the evolution of attribution has revealed lift from podcast ads at times exceeding what those codes have reported. In addition, brands increasingly value the active engagement listeners experience with podcast programming.

Do podcast campaigns include promotion on hosts’ social media and other channels?

In some cases, yes. Negotiate this point when putting the plan together. It’s important to communicate what is valuable to the brand and where those promotions can land.

How do brands determine which podcasts will reach their target audience(s)?

In podcasting, we like to say that there is a show for everyone. That is not only true for the listener, but also for the brands, as well. Brands should look to align with podcasts designed to reach the same audiences they are.

What is the difference between live reads and pre-produced spots?

“Live reads” is not really the correct nomenclature anymore. We tend to use the term host-read. Shows don’t typically go out live, like they do on radio. Podcast hosts read the ads, and then the ads are dynamically inserted into the program, allowing for more flexibility. To define them, host reads are sponsorships read by the host and can include a personal experience or endorsement. Producer reads are sponsorships read by non-hosts that run as “brought to you by” in the episode. Pre-produced spots are those provided by the brand or its ad agency.

What are “baked in” vs. dynamically inserted ads?

“Baked in” ads are edited into the fabric of the program and live indefinitely with the audio file, wherever it resides. Dynamically inserted ads, in contrast, are digitally served to a listener at the time of consumption, so they can be swapped out or removed when the campaign is over. They allow for greater flexibility.

What kind of reporting is available during and after the campaign?

Podcasting allows for daily, weekly, monthly and geographic reporting on its own. In addition, we have the ability to partner with other services to show attribution, foot traffic and purchase behavior.

Should podcasts stand alone or be integrated into a media plan?

Both. Podcast campaigns can do extremely well on their own. However, there is also an upside when there’s synergy with the messaging from other media. We have seen brands that primarily use video or display build in pieces from podcasting and show great results. It’s important to understand that what works in one medium may not work in another, so creative flexibility and understanding is key.

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