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Podcast Advertising: 10 Tips For Effective Ad Campaigns

Evan Oliver
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We’re all witnessing the explosion of podcasting as a medium for storytelling and brand building. 

Over 60 million people in the US listen to podcasts every week. These listeners check out on average six podcasts per week. 

In 2020, both podcasters and sponsoring brands are seeing the huge value of podcast advertising. Podcast ad revenue’s now over $708 million — increasing by 48% in a single year. 

If you’re itching to advertise on podcasts or looking for more information to monetize a podcast, this guide dives into:

  • Everything you need to know about the different types of podcast ads
  • How to find the right podcasts to advertise on for your brand
  • The assets you’ll need to create successful campaigns

Plus, tons of podcast advertising examples you can get inspiration from. 

Ready? Let’s get to it. 

Why Advertise On Podcasts?

Here are a few big reasons brands advertise on podcasts.

Built-In Support

Podcast listeners want to support the brands that help keep their favorite podcasts running. In some cases, listeners are more receptive to the brand’s hosts endorse on episodes. 

NPR found 61% of their listening audience prefers to buy from brands that sponsor their content. Justin Lapidus, Senior Vice President of Growth Marketing and Digital products at Brooklinen shared in a New York Times article their team makes efficient plays for smaller, but more committed, audiences. “It doesn’t really matter what genre their podcast is in. Whatever they buy, their listeners will buy, for the most part.” 

Beyond that, consider the opportunity to engage. Many podcast listeners are doing something else while listening. 52% tune in while driving so they don’t necessarily stop to skip ads. 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Where people listen to podcasts
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As listeners dig through older episodes of their favorite podcasts, you can still generate new customers. Many podcast ads are baked into the audio content so your ads can live on indefinitely (more on that later!). 

Reach Young, Affluent Audiences

66% of podcast listeners are ages 18 to 34. 44% have a household income of $75,000 or more.

Expansive Networks

There are over 1 million podcasts covering a wide range of topics and genres, providing many opportunities to find shows that align with your brand and target customer. 

Who Advertises On Podcasts?

An IAB study found direct to consumer and financial services as the industries investing the most into podcast ads. 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Podcast advertising revenues percentage share by industry
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The same study found podcast ad campaigns are 54% direct response, meaning each ad contains a specific offer. 42% are brand awareness campaigns.

Magellan identified 2,126 brands or products on the top 2,000 podcasts. In their latest report, they cited the following brands as the largest podcast advertisers: 

  1. Geico
  2. ZipRecruiter
  3. BetterHelp
  4. SimpliSafe
  5. MyBookie
  6. Indeed
  7. Swarovski
  8. Roman
  9. Spotify
  10. HelloFresh
  11. Noom
  12. ADT
  13. TrueCar
  14. Rocket Mortgage
  15. DraftKings

How Podcast Advertising Works

There are three places podcast ads appear:

  1. Pre-roll, advertising that occurs at the very start of the podcast
  2. Mid-roll, ads that happen in the middle of the podcast. Depending on the podcast there may be multiple mid-roll ad breaks.   
  3. Post-roll, ads that take place after a podcast episode is over. 
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Where to find pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ads
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Mid-roll ads typically cost more; they get more engagement since they appear within the podcast content. And are more difficult to skip for listeners compared to pre-roll and post-roll. 

There are two ways advertisers can place ads:

  1. Baked-in ads are audio ads contained within the podcast recording. They are usually read and recorded by the host.  

The podcast host reads it alongside the rest of their content or edits it in later. The end result is a single audio file a listener can download or stream. Host-read ads baked into podcasts are an estimated 66% of podcast advertising revenue. 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Podcast advertising revenue percentage stats
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Here’s the big plus for brands: Baked-in ads last within an episode for as long as the content is live online. 

  1. For Dynamically inserted ads, an ad network places the ads based on the specific user. The ad’s recorded and produced elsewhere. For example, the pre-roll ads you see if you tune into The Dave Ramsey Show on YouTube are dynamically inserted.

Sponsors may not want to purchase dynamically inserted ads that only appear for a limited time. This practice can potentially increase the cost per acquisition(CPA), the total amount you’re spending to convert a lead into a customer. 

Some advertisers report baked-in ads being 3.5 times more efficient than dynamically inserted ads for the CPA.

However, specific strategies like YouTube retargeting ads can work in your favor due to the low costs per view, the amount you pay each time someone sees your ad. YouTube ads have an average cost-per-view of $0.010 – $0.030. The average cost to reach 100,00 viewers: roughly $2,000.  

Still, over the last few years, roughly half of podcasts ads are baked in while the other half is dynamically inserted.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Baked-in ad revenue percentage slowly increasing
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All that said, dynamically inserted ads give you the ability to A/B test your ad messaging. Beauty lifestyle brand Tyme decreased their CPA by 75% using a combination of tactics including YouTube campaigns and dynamic search ads. 

15% of total internet traffic is on YouTube so the potential reach and opportunities to connect with highly specific audiences are endless. 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Breaking down dynamic insertion and baked-in ads
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How Effective Is Podcast Advertising?

As I mentioned, podcast ad revenue is now over $708 million. News podcasts capture 22% of that revenue.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]News podcasts are generating the most revenue
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Keep in mind, just because News is the largest category for podcast advertising doesn’t mean you can’t still target similar audiences in other genres. People have eclectic interests.  Rather than only advertise on business podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, the eCommerce fulfillment platform Shipstation also advertises on comedy podcasts like Tiger Belly and the true-crime podcast Crime Junkie

60% of podcast listeners say they bought something after hearing a podcast ad.

Brands selling refrigerated juice may not seem like the most obvious fit for podcast advertising. Nielsen discovered people who avidly listen to podcasts and enjoy juice spend 8.8% more per year on juice. That’s an estimated over $2 billion more in purchases of juice per year thanks to podcasts.

Brands average a 2.6% conversion lift across non-podcast channels such as print (2.4%) and linear TV (3.1%). Podcast channels drive an average 34% lift.

10 Things To Keep In Mind For Effective Podcast Campaigns

Now that you know why brands are advertising on podcasts, let’s talk about everything you need to launch a podcast ad campaign.

1. Define KPIs & Targets

First, outline your KPIs. Determine whether you are looking to see an increase in traffic, sales, brand mentions on social media, or a combination of these based on your campaign. 

  • You’ll also want to define your target audience for campaigns. Factor in the following listening habits by demographic:
  • 42% of generations older than millennials will listen to a podcast of 26 minutes or longer, compared to 60% of gen z and 52% of millennials. 
  • The biggest increase in podcast listenership in the past year: ages 12-to-24.

2. Podcast Advertising Rates

Some podcasters may charge a flat fee to advertise on their show. However, most podcast advertising rates are based on a cost per mile (CPM), also known as the cost per 1,000 listeners. The average rates for advertising on podcasts according to AdvertiseCast are:

  • $25 for a 30-second ad per 1,000 listeners 
  • $35 for a 60-second ad per 1,000 listeners
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Average podcast advertising rates
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As you can see above the exact CPM will also depend on how many total listeners a show gets per episode. So let’s do a little quick math. If you’re trying to advertise on a show that gets 5,000 listeners per episode, you may end up paying $105 for a 30-second ad or $140 for a 60-second ad. 

The larger the listener base of a podcast, you can expect to pay a higher CPM. 

The ad isn’t the only way a podcast can promote your brand though. A podcaster can also mention you as the sponsor:

  • their Facebook Page with a link going to your website
  • tweets about your product/service
  • their email newsletter
  • the episode's show notes page

3. Create Your Shortlist

To start identifying podcasts to advertise on, browse Backtrack’s charts for the most listened to podcasts overall and by genre. 

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Backtrack rankings for entrepreneurship podcasts

4. Podcast Advertising Networks

Consider podcast networks to make it easy to advertise across multiple shows. Some podcast producers may also request you to go through their ad network partners. 

Here are a few of the largest podcast advertising networks...

Midroll matches podcasters with advertisers looking for live ad reads of their brand. For podcasts, Midroll also provides production, distribution, and other monetization services. Podcasts that work with Midroll include: WTF with Marc Maron, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, and Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. 

AdvertiseCast has a self-service advertising portal for over 1,500 podcasts or you can work with their team for end-to-end campaign management. Podcasters can add a listing on their website, set ad costs, and then approve or deny any advertiser requests they receive. 

PodcastOne's 200 podcasts deliver more than 400 million monthly impressions for advertisers.

Authentic Shows has over 13 years of experience in podcast advertising and provides advertising representation for podcasters. They also support advertiser media planning connecting brands with over 200 top podcasts including Serial and This American Life.

5. Let Hosts Demo Your Product

Once you agree to advertise on specific podcasts, send the hosts your product or a free trial of your service whenever possible. If hosts know your product well and can share how it fits into their life, they are more likely to be interested in your business and provide a more organic feeling mention for your brand. 

“It’s a little bit hard to believe that a sock could be that much better. So a podcast ad really gives you the implication of the host’s buy-in, where the host says, ‘I’m wearing these socks. They’re the best ever, and I never want to wear anything else.’ And it becomes a little bit more like a friend recommendation than a Facebook ad,” said Kate Huyett, Bombas Socks in an interview with Midroll.

6. Develop Podcast Ad Copy 

Many podcast hosts don’t read ads word for word. However, by having the key messaging or bullet points to incorporate they can provide their own personal spin to the ad read whether it’s an interesting anecdote or their own experience using your product or service.  

If you’re advertising on many podcasts, create a larger group of messaging points as bullet points. 

Then you can share the most relevant bullet points for each specific podcast. For example, Athletic Greens advertises with The Tim Ferriss Show and The Joe Rogan Experience. Since Joe often discusses the benefits of Vitamin D, they emphasize that in the ad copy and their landing page:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Athletic Greens landing page for The Joe Rogan Experience listeners
View Source[/caption]

Even the specific offer is different for The Tim Ferriss Show listeners that instead get free servings of Athletic Greens.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Athletic Greens landing page for The Tim Ferriss Show
View Source[/caption]

If your brand chooses to have tighter control of an ad read or don't trust the host to effectively promote your brand when ad-libbing the spot, you may decide to write a full ad script. Create a script that reflects the podcast’s tone and contains a story from the perspective of the host. 

Let’s say you’re Bombas Socks and advertising on Amy Schumer’s podcast, 3 Girls, 1 Keith. You may talk about how Amy used to always make fun of her boyfriends' socks. But what he didn't know was her socks always had holes in them. Until she started wearing Bombas’ super comfy socks.

The CTA should include:

  • the discount or a special offer
  • the coupon code
  • the vanity URL

For pre-roll ads mention the CTA once. With mid-roll and post-roll ads, include the CTA twice.

Each sentence of the script needs to be short and punchy. Use Hemingway Editor to review the initial readability of your script. Then read aloud to see how it may sound on playback.

When getting ad copy over to a podcast, they may request anywhere from one to three weeks time in advance of airing. Submit any copy whether it’s part adlib or a full script a  week before the deadline they give you. That way you’ll have time in case they request any revisions.  

7. Build Custom Landing Pages

The fastest way to track your podcast campaigns and help listeners reach a landing page to your specific offer: include a vanity URL with your ad. A vanity URL is a short, easy-to-remember web address that will redirect to the landing page. 

Visiting the URL, https://www.expressvpn.com/tim, takes a site visitor to a custom landing page for The Tim Ferriss Show listeners:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]ExpressVPN’s custom landing page for The Tim Ferriss Show

Use a tool like Rebrandly or Bit.ly to create your vanity URL. Use UTM codes to track specific sources so you can optimize your ad spend on podcasting and launch retargeting campaigns based on listeners that visited the landing page. Then, you can review if you see an increase in direct and referral traffic to your website using Google Analytics Reports.  

8. Add Promo Codes

95% of podcast advertisers use some type of promo code in their advertisements. This is another way to track your ROI to specific ad campaigns. Like the running sock brand features does below for advertising with the True Crime Obsessed podcast.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Features promo code on True Crime Obsessed podcast page
Image Source[/caption]

9. Get More Data Via Podcast Analytics Platforms

Third-party software including Chartable and Podsights allows podcast producers and advertisers to track the effectiveness of campaigns across Apple, Spotify, and other podcast hosting providers. 

Many platforms like Apple Podcasts also offer episode-specific insights on their platform so you can dig into behavioral and geographical data including:

  • total time users listened to an episode
  • the number of unique listeners
  • top countries that played content

10. Ask Customers

Podcast listeners may forget your promo code but remember your brand after hearing your ad. When customers complete a purchase, consider asking them where they heard about you and include the podcasts you advertise on as an option. 

As you read earlier with NPR’s strong sponsor support from listeners, they do want to support their favorite shows. And they may be willing to take an extra minute to share in hopes you’ll continue to advertise with that podcast. 

You can add a survey on your registration or checkout page using Feedier.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Feedier checkout page pop-up
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If you embed the survey on your website, the response rate can be two to four times better. 

You can also survey by emailing customers after they buy and include a question asking how the customer heard about your brand to attribute their purchase.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="590"]Withings customer survey email
Image Source[/caption]

4 Powerful Podcast Advertising Examples

1. Porter Airlines

A host read ad spot seamlessly weaves mid-roll from the organic podcast content on The Ongoing History of New Music. Alan Cross shares his experience flying on four dozen airlines. And how painful air travel was until he flew with Porter Airlines.


Dax Shepard's adlib ads on Armchair Expert weave in true stories to create more organic feeling ads. 

In the below episode (57-minute mark), Dax talks about how CBD MD helped on a three-day trip to the dunes where he was dealing with physical pain and the product provided quick relief to his joints.

3. Mack Weldon

Podcasters can also make highly creative campaigns available to businesses. During a live recording of the Comedy Bang Bang podcast at SXSW, comedian Paul F. Tompkins played an executive for the underwear brand Mack Weldon. 

With the live ad read, Paul mocked an underwear model played by another guest on the show. The clip went viral on Reddit leading to them doubling their sales thanks to podcast ads.

4. Eight Sleep

On The Adam and Dr. Drew Show, hosts Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew discuss different health and wellness subjects. Some segments then transition into a mid-roll ad read related to the same topic. 

In Episode #1239, Dr. Drew discusses sleep research. Then he recalls a personal story of his work at a center for Alzheimer’s patients and how at first he thought stress was the main factor of condition. But he discovered the biggest factor is sleep and segued into an ad for Eight Sleep, a smart mattress brand.

To Sum It Up

Weigh the risk of testing podcast advertising and potential higher CAC.  You may want to optimize your campaigns on Facebook, AdWords, and other, more developed ad networks before jumping into podcasting.

There are dozens of factors you can test for podcast ads to figure out what works and what doesn't include:

  • Pre-roll versus mid-roll  ad placements
  • Ad length 
  • Having another podcast host read your ad
  • Allowing the host to improvise the ad read

Once you figure out which podcast advertising campaigns work, you can retarget listeners that visit your landing page or layer lookalike campaigns with interests on Facebook. 

Let us know your experience advertising on podcasts in the comments.