To Sponsor or Advertise on a Podcast. Really?

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Should I Sponsor a Podcast? [Matthew McLean](https://www.thepodcasthost.com/author/mmclean/) Oct 30, 2017 Edited for content for the Podgeist Network web site by David Yakir

“If you run a business, you’ve probably been asked about advertising before.

You might’ve heard from people who wanted you to place an ad in a newspaper or magazine, or on the radio, or even on the back of a bus.

Many a business has plowed thousands of dollars into those types of traditional advertising and, thanks to a lack of planning, tracking or strategy, lost a fair chunk of money.

But what I can tell you is that podcast advertising *does* work. And, if done correctly, can work really well.

So whether you’ve been invited to sponsor a podcast, or want to research some new advertising methods, here are the answers to some of your questions…

What’s Different About Podcast Advertising? Podcasts can be highly targeted. In fact, most are.

You’ll find podcasts on the most niche of subjects, from [chameleon breeding] (http://www.chameleonbreeder.com/) to [growing bonsai trees](http://bonsaificusretusa.com/) .

A podcast’s core audience will subscribe to the show, and have often listened to every single word the host has ever said.

A trade magazine might be ultra-niche, but many readers will still skim certain sections that are obviously adverts.

In audio, that’s much less likely.

A podcast’s core audience knows the host well. They like them, they trust them, and they turn up every episode to hear from them.

But that alone isn’t necessarily enough for an advert to work.

What Makes an Effective Podcast Advertising?

Because podcasting and radio are both audio, you might imagine your own ad being very similar to the kind you’ve heard on the radio.

Though this is an option, it’s far from the best one.

In order to fully benefit from the host’s relationship with their audience, a host-read message is a lot more likely to cause listeners to take action.

Host-read messages – if done well – aren’t breaks in the show’s content. They’re a part of it.

A key factor here is that the advertiser/product and the show topic/ethos are a good fit for each other. The podcast host must fully endorse what they’re selling to their audience.

If the host uses your product or service, they can build a short story around it. They can tell their audience why they started using it, the benefits they received from it, and why they recommend it.

That’s much better than a random voice-over, jumping in to hurl a slew of details at the listener and offering little more than an annoying interruption.

Do Download Numbers Matter?

With newspaper, TV, and radio advertising you’ll hear figures in the tens or hundreds of thousands. Sometimes even millions.

Many potential podcast advertisers write-off the medium because listener figures are often in the hundreds, or low thousands.

Again, though, this comes down to engagement rather than sheer volume of numbers.

What percentage of the 40,000 local radio listeners care about the content in your average advert? What percentage of this number is that ad even relevant to?

But if you have a podcast with 200 hardcore listeners on (for example) the subject of keeping pet rats, and the host is talking about a particular rat food they use for their pets, how many of the audience will be interested to find out why? All.

We need to get past the idea that a bigger audience is always better. It’s not a case of how many, it’s a case of who.

If you’re a wedding planner, would you rather reach 50k people who aren’t getting married, or 50 who are?**

Measuring Downloads? What does it actually mean to say a podcast gets a certain amount of downloads?

The easiest way to do this is on a downloads-per-episode basis, and in the period of 30 days following that episode’s release.

So if I tell you that my podcast gets 2000 downloads, that means after I release a new episode, it’ll be downloaded around 2000 times within the first month.

My all-time number of downloads (counting every episode ever released) might be 500,000, and I might be getting 300 total downloads per day. But these don’t mean much to you if you’re paying to sponsor the next 4 episodes.

What is a Download?

Media hosts (the services we use to upload episodes to) will generally clock up a download each time there’s a request for a file. A “file” being an episode of the show.

That might be someone downloading the episode, and listening to the entire thing. Or it might be someone hitting play in their web browser for 5 seconds. Both will register as a “download”.

Are Download Numbers Unreliable?

So couldn’t a particularly dishonest podcaster find multiple ways to vastly inflate their numbers?

Unfortunately there are rare occasions of this happening, yes. But the overwhelming majority of podcasters are honest, passionate, and hard working people. People who value their integrity and their audience above all else.

If you want to make money scamming someone, I’m sure there are a lot of quicker and easier options than running a crooked podcast.

But to put your mind at rest, I’d advise putting more emphasis on engagement metrics than download numbers anyway.

We’ll talk about tracking results and engagement shortly. But, here’s a final thought on the reliability of download metrics.

How many of your local radio station’s “40,000 listeners” are just jumping in the car for 5 minutes here and there?

How many of your local newspaper’s “3000 readers” are reading every word or every ad on a page full of advertising?

I’m not saying that advertising on traditional mediums don’t work. My point is simply that no system is perfect, and that we need to look beyond the numbers when evaluating any return on an advertising investment.

How Long Would I Need to Commit to a Podcast Sponsorship?

If you decide to go ahead and sponsor a podcast, you should agree with the host on how long it’ll run for.

You might agree to try an initial 4 episodes, then review your arrangement before deciding on doing more.

And although you might only pay for 4 episodes, these episodes generally don’t vanish once they’re published. They can still be being downloaded 10 years from now, as new listeners discover the podcast and binge its back catalogue.

That’s a long time since your newspaper ad ended up as a fish shop wrapper, or your local radio ad slot finished!

How Much Does it Cost to Sponsor a Podcast?

Again, if you’re working directly with a podcaster, and not through any middleman, then it’s simply a case of agreeing on a price that works for both.

Some podcasters with big download numbers are happy with the classic CPM (cost per thousand) model. That often translates to an ad slot cost of around $20 to $25 per 1000 downloads (per episode, after 30 days of its release).

However, many podcasters will be keen to hammer out an agreement that looks beyond simple numbers. Engagement can be far more important, as we’ve covered already.

I gave the example of the pet rat podcaster with a core audience of 200 highly engaged listeners.

If you’re a pet supply company creating products for small animals, this would be a perfect opportunity to get in front of those listeners and build a relationship with them.

It’s extremely unlikely that’s going to happen for $5 per episode though – it’s just not worthwhile for the podcaster, and doesn’t reflect the highly targetted nature of that audience. A much more realistic figure might be $30 to $50 per episode.

But as I’ve said, this is dependent on so many different factors, and it’s entirely up to the business and the podcaster to come to an agreement.

There’s absolutely no one-size-fits-all answer here.

Another Pricing Factor: The positioning of your advert in a podcast episode can also be a factor in the pricing. There are 3 categories of ad positioning in podcasting.

* **Pre-roll** – a 15 second ad at the start of the show, usually before the main topic of the episode has begun.

* **Mid-roll** – a 1 minute ad in the middle of the show, or in the middle of the main topic discussion.

* **Post-roll** – a short ad at the end of the show, usually after the main topic has ended.

As you’ll have guessed, a mid-roll ad is generally the most sought-after spot, and thus tends to be the most expensive.

And with the risk of many listeners switching off after the main topic of an episode, the post-roll spot is the least appealing.

There are trends rather than rules though. There’s an argument that a show’s most elite and fanatical listeners are the ones who always make it right to the end. So a post-roll campaign over multiple episodes *could* work really well, and at a much lower cost!

How Do I Track Results?

Just as you don’t want to waste your money, a good podcast host won’t want to waste their listener’s time either.

There are a few ways you and the host can monitor how effective the sponsorship is for both parties.

*Tracking clicks** – you can use tools like [PrettyLink](https://www.thepodcasthost.com/prettylink) to create memorable URLs to be read out on the show. For example, yourbusiness.com/podcastname. This way you get an idea of how many listeners are checking you out.

* **Dedicated website section traffic** – you can create a specific page or section of your site tailored to listeners of the podcast. You might try asking the podcaster to list their 5 favourite products, or similar.

* **Coupon codes** – you can provide listeners with a coupon code that gives them a % discount at checkout. If you go down this route you may offer the option to pay a lower per-episode fee to the podcaster that’s incentivised with commission from these sales.

This is by no means all there is to sponsoring or advertising on a podcast. But give us a call at 212.244.6224 or fill out the form below and we’ll get right back to you.

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