Announcements

Announcing RedCircle’s Automated Podcast Advertising Platform

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RedCircle Launches First Automated Podcast Advertising Platform to Scale Host-Read Ads on Thousands of Popular Podcasts

PRESS RELEASE — August 14, 2020

RedCircle, one of the largest platforms for independent podcasters, has launched a new automated ad insertion platform that allows brands and agencies to quickly and easily access thousands of vetted, independent creators and launch easy-to-scale campaigns that reach target audiences in days, not weeks. 40+ brands have bought Red Circle inventory and about 25% of them have already utilized the platform during the beta testing period to execute campaigns in full and more are in the process.

Through the easy-to-navigate RedCircle dashboard, advertisers have the unique power to access metrics for hundreds of podcasts at once, allowing more specific audience targeting. The first-of-its-kind platform enables advertisers to visit the profile of a show, which contain social reach and previous ad-reads / episodes in order to deeply understand it, then easily communicate with creators through the platform about campaign messaging, sample product, and pricing, facilitating more impactful brand/creator partnerships, which are helping scale this important and growing media segment.

Michael Kadin, Founder and CEO of RedCircle stated: “With more than half the US population turning to podcasts for information or entertainment, the medium shows no hint of slowing down. The ability for brands to quickly and easily manage ad campaigns targeting key demographics, including the coveted 18-34 year old category which make up half of the podcast listening audience, can be a critical piece of the marketing mix for brands ranging from CPG to DTC to subscription services. With RedCircle, advertisers have the opportunity to partner with hundreds of podcasters through one, scalable platform because we don’t follow the traditional radio model that’s replicated throughout the podcasting space. We’ve simplified the buying experience in what has traditionally been a very fractured market, helping brands buy on one podcast, a hundred, or more.”

Additional features of the RedCircle platform allow advertisers to:

  • Select as many podcasts as they’d like to work with based on a variety of metrics provided by RedCircle including: podcast topic/category, audience size, listener demographics and CPM.
  • Set budgets, campaign dates and identify specific episodes (either new episodes only or all episodes downloaded during the length of the campaign) for each podcast they partner with.
  • Review ad reads, and provide feedback to creators throughout the length of the campaign,
  • Track budget and performance across shows that are running their campaign and adjust in real-time as necessary.
  • Optimize and A/B test campaigns through ad formats, messaging and show placement.

With thousands of podcasters on the platform hosting shows spanning every conceivable topic including sports, finance, comedy, pop-culture, fashion and style, health and wellness, politics, current events, and true crime, brands have the opportunity to reach either a wide or very niche audience, depending on their marketing strategy. RedCircle’s network is “app agnostic,” reaching listeners regardless of which of the 40+ available podcast players they use, such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music and Overcast.

For the independent creators on the RedCircle network, this new advertising platform enables them to seamlessly partner with world-class brands, record promotional spots, and insert them into natural breaks throughout their episodes in intervals agreed upon by the host and brand, all on one easy-to-use platform. Additionally, creators can take advantage of the streamlined platform by accessing multiple monetization opportunities on the dashboard including:

  • Subscriptions – Listeners can sign up for exclusive content and creators will be able to track the growth of their paid offering
  • Donations – Listeners can donate to their favorite creators on individual episodes or on the platform
  • Cross-promotion – Creators can connect directly to negotiate and track cross-promotions across podcasts in the user-friendly messaging portal
Podcast Advertising

Podcast Advertising Glossary

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Here is a quick and simple list of common podcasting terms, acronyms, and phrases that are helpful to know when you’re getting started advertising on podcasts. 

Ad Copy

This is also often referred to as the ad script or talking points. Ad copy is the brand’s messaging that they provide podcasters. It can take different formats, whether it’s a script that podcasters read word for word or bulleted talking points that give podcasters the freedom to personalize the message. Here’s a guide to writing great ad copy! 

Ad Inventory 

This is the total amount of space or remaining ad spots that a podcaster has available at any given time.

Ad format 

The ad format determines the type of ad read and how the ad is inserted. 

Host-read ad

Host-read ads are read by the podcast host (or producer) and are the most common and traditional way of advertising on podcasts. The way that host-read ads get inserted into podcasts has evolved and changed over the last few years. Instead of being “baked in” or directly edited into the episode, now almost all major publishers and networks dynamically insert their host-read ads into the episode. 

Pre-recorded ad

Pre-recorded ads are similar to traditional radio ads. These ads are recorded and supplied by the advertiser and are dynamically inserted into the episode. They are also significantly less expensive than host-read ads with a typical CPM of $3 – $11. 

Ad position

The ad position determines where in the episode the ad will run. There are three different ad positions in a podcast: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. 

Pre-Roll

Pre-roll ads run before the episode starts or within its first few minutes and is generally  between 30 – 60 seconds long. Depending on the placement, pre-rolls can sometimes be skipped over so they are typically priced slightly less than mid-roll ad spots.

Mid-Roll

Mid-roll ads run halfway through an episode and are usually a little longer and more in depth than a pre-roll or post-roll placement. Listeners are most engaged through the middle of an episode and make mid-rolls the most expensive and most effective ad placement.

Post-Roll

Post-roll ads run within the last few minutes of the episode or directly after the end of the episode content. Post-roll placements are typically shorter in length and priced the lowest because listenership tends to decline slightly by the end of an episode. 

Ad Spot 

Ad spots are the limited number of time slots within a podcast episode that brands can purchase for advertising. 

Baked-in ads 

Baked-in ads are a part of the actual podcast episode and are either read live by the host or directly edited into the episode. Bake-in ads will always live within the content and everyone that downloads that episode will always hear the same ad.

CPM Rate 

Podcast ads are generally priced by a CPM rate or the cost of an ad per 1,000 listeners. For a host-read ad, the average CPM rate starts around $25 for a 60 second ad spot. Pre-recorded ads have much lower CPM rates that average just a few dollars.

Call to Action (CTA) 

Typically one of the last things a podcaster mentions in an ad spot, the CTA tells listeners how to take the next step and make a purchase. A CTA should include the brands website, a promo code, and mention any special offers or discounts.  

Direct Response campaign

The most common type of podcast ad campaign that is tracked by advertisers with a unique promo code or vanity URL. 

Download Numbers

The average number of downloads an individual podcast receives, which estimates the number of people that listened to that episode. This metric is used to estimate how many people an ad will reach. 

Dynamic insertion 

Technology that stitches together and serves an audio file to the listener at the time the episode is downloaded. When ads are dynamically inserted, listeners may hear different ads when they download an episode. 

Insertion Order 

The final step in the ad proposal process, an insertion order means that the podcaster is obligated to deliver the ad per the terms of the agreement. 

Makegood 

An advertiser can request a free rerun of an ad spot to make up for a previous cancellation or error by the podcaster. 

Promo Code 

Also referred to as a coupon code, special offer or vanity URL. An unique identifier or code that podcasters mention with the call to action and encourage listeners to enter during checkout. The main purpose is to help measure the performance of each individual podcaster and the overall ad campaign.

Product sample

Free product or services provided to a podcaster by an advertiser before the launch of an ad campaign to allow the podcaster to get familiar with the product and brand. 

Tracking pixel 

A third-party podcast attribution product that connects a podcast’s downloads to activity on your website to give both the advertiser and the opdcaster additional insight into the effectiveness of a campaign. 

Now you know the lingo, it’s time to launch your first podcast campaign. Want to learn more? Check out Podcast Advertising Basics: A Marketers Guide and Is Podcasting Advertising Right for Your Brand? for more help getting started with podcast advertising. Or dive right in and sign up to start advertising with RedCircle.

Podcast Advertising

How to Create Perfect Podcast Ad Copy

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Once you’ve decided it’s time for your brand to start podcast advertising, the next step is to think about the messaging for your campaign. The messaging is the foundation of a successful podcast campaign, which means it’s important to provide podcasters with a set of clear instructions for the ad read, whether it’s in the format of a script or an outline of  bulleted talking points.

Before you begin to craft your messaging, consider what makes a great performing podcast ad. Your goal is to create an ad that will resonate with both the listeners and the host, these are the ads that will drive conversion. 

The first step in creating your ad is to decide on how you’d like to format the ad copy you’ll provide to the hosts. For a more formal approach, you can provide a script that the host will read verbatim. A script works well for pre and post roll ads where time is limited to all but a brief intro to your brand and a call to action. But for longer mid-roll ad spots, it’s best to provide a list of key messaging points that gives the host freedom for some improversation and storytelling.

Part of what makes podcast advertising so effective is the host’s ability to personalize the message and inject their voice into the campaign in a way they know will resonate with their audience. A perfect podcast script allows the host’s personality to shine through, while also giving enough guidance to ensure your brand is represented accurately. 

Components of great podcast ad copy:

You’ll want to deliver your ad copy to podcasts to later than a week before the show date. This leaves plenty of time for the host to review the copy and resolve any questions or concerns they may have. No matter the format of your copy, here are a few things to consider as you craft your messaging:

Authenticy 

The best performing ads are those that are true to the host and show. When done well, podcast ads will feel more like a recommendation from a trusted friend than an advertisement. Honesty always sells, so trust the host to be themselves and personalize your ad message in a way that relates to their unique audience. Remember that they are the experts on the listeners you’re paying money to reach. 

“At the end of the day, the best performing podcast ads are ones that are true to the content and the personalities on the show. Whether it’s a read that ties into an inside joke on the show, or calls upon the host’s personal experience in explaining the benefits of a product, truly personalized podcast reads will always outperform those that utilize generic copy.”

Will Flaherty, VP of Growth at Ro.co

Personal experience 

Always allocate time for the host to speak about their personal experience with your brand. 

It will be clear to listeners if a host has true passion for a product or service, or just reading talking points that the brand fed them. Which is why giving the host a sample of your product or a trial to your service is always a good idea. Ultimately, the goal is to tell a story that evokes emotion in the listeners, and the most powerful and interesting stories will come from a host’s personal experience. 

In addition, it’s best practice to set up a kickoff call with the host before the campaign goes live – it’s an opportunity to make sure the host’s experience with the product was positive, educate them more on your brand, and answer any questions they have about the product. 

Key talking points 

The host is the expert on the audience, but you are the expert on speaking about your brand. Your time is limited, so it’s important to distill the value proposition of your brand into two or three messaging points that are most critical to your brand. The points can be in bulleted format and should be short and sweet, highlighting your key differentiating factors and tell the listener why they should make a purchase. 

Unless you are using scripted ad copy, ideally the host will take these talking points and weave them into the ad read using anecdotal stories from their own personal experience. If there are certain talking points that must be included or you’d like the host to read verbatim, be sure to clearly indicate that in the script. 

Call to action 

The most important component of your ad copy is your call to action (CTA), it tells listeners how to take the next step and is ultimately what drives conversions. The CTA should include your website or vanity URL, a promo code, and any special offers such as discounts or free trials. 

Repetition is key here. Be sure the host reads your CTA 2 – 3 times at the end of the ad read. For longer mid-roll ads, you may want to add a CTA in the middle of the ad as well. Given the medium is audio, you want to make sure your CTA is crystal clear. If the promo code or website is difficult to pronounce or spell phonetically, you may want to request that the host literally spells it out several times.

Tailored messaging 

Like all things in marketing, your audience should always be the focus of your messaging. It’s great to experiment across different categories of podcasts, but that doesn’t mean that the same message will resonate with audiences across the board. It’s important to tailor your message to fit with the tone of the podcast and profile of their audience. You may have several different versions of your ad copy for a single campaign, so It’s good to have a repository of key talking points to select from to quickly tailor the message to a specific target audience or category.

Podcast Advertising

Is Podcast Advertising Right for Your Brand?

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When done well, podcast advertising can be a profitable and effective channel for your brand. Podcasts can help grow your brand, expand your reach into hard to reach audiences, boost user engagement, and generate new leads. But, if you are new to podcast advertising, it can be difficult to determine whether it’s the right time to get started or if it’s even a good fit for your brand. 

Podcasts can be an effective channel for every brand, regardless of the industry you’re in or the size of your budget. That said, a small startup won’t be able to take the same approach of an established brand like Peloton and buy premium spots across top shows. To be successful, you must build a strategy that will make podcast advertising work for your unique brand, goals, and budget. 

Why invest in podcasting

If the meteoric rise in podcast advertising over the past five years isn’t enough to convince you that it works and works well, there is an overwhelming amount of data and studies to ensure that you’re making a good investment. Here’s a few more reasons why podcast advertising is worth the investment: 

How to make podcast advertising work for your brand

Direct-to-consumer brands were trailblazers in the medium and still spend the most on podcast ads, but today industries across the board, from finance to education, have successfully incorporated podcasts into their digital marketing strategy. You don’t have to be a household name with a big budget to successfully advertise on a podcast. Small businesses have a unique opportunity to take advantage of podcasting. Here are a few tips to help make podcast advertising work for your brand. 

Start with the goal of your campaign

The first step when planning a new podcast campaign is to set a clear objective. Is your goal to stay top-of-mind with audiences or is it to increase lead generation? Since podcast listeners skew young and tech-savvy, perhaps your goal is to further a proof of concept for your startup. Although podcast advertising is generally used for direct-response campaigns, it’s also very effective for brand awareness and lift. In fact, brand awareness ads make up 38% of all podcast campaigns

Set expectations for the ROI 

When it comes to calculating your campaign ROI, there are multiple ways to track attribution for podcasts, it’s just not quite as direct as other digital channels like Google and Facebook. For every listener that goes to the unique landing page when they make a purchase or use a show’s promo code, another listener may remember a few days later and just google the company directly. Which is why marketers will often apply a multiplier to account for any attribution spillage and give a clearer picture of a campaign’s true ROI.

Make your offer compelling

Whether it’s a free trial to your service or limited-time discount on your product, it’s crucial to have a unique and compelling offering when running direct-response campaigns. Not only do you want to have an offer that will get a listener to take the next step and make a purchase, you also want the listener to be motivated to use the promo code or unique URL when they do so it’s easier to track the performance of the overall campaign, as well as the individual shows. 

Focus on the long-tail 

You don’t need to buy ads on the biggest or most popular podcasts to see results. For smaller brands or those just starting out it’s important to focus on the long-tail podcasters. Instead of looking at the download numbers, look at the shows for who you’re trying to reach and who your customer is. 

To get the most out of the budget you have, you don’t want to spend your money all in one place on shows with huge download numbers. It’s much better to spread your budget across a variety of  smaller, strategic shows. Don’t discount a podcast just because it’s small, if your customers are listening to it, it’s a much smarter buy than a large show that appeals to a broad audience. One of the enormous benefits of podcasts is that they attract a niche, dedicated audience that is also highly targetable. 

Launch your podcast campaign

If you are finding success in other digital channels, podcasting is a great way to diversify your advertising budget if you haven’t already. RedCircle’s Ad Marketplace enables brands to find and access thousands of independent creators and networks, making it quick and easy for brands to plan and launch their first campaign with a flexible budget. Sign up to learn more and  get started advertising with RedCircle.

Podcast Advertising

How to Scale Host-Read Podcast Ads

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As podcast ad revenue continues to grow even through the pandemic, podcasting has graduated from a handful of advertiser’s test budgets to being an integral part of most mainstream marketers’ strategies. Yet unlike other digital channels, the nature of the medium makes it challenging to scale without sacrificing what makes host-read podcast ads so effective.

Traditionally, it’s a slow and complicated process to buy host-read ads. One that requires a lot of back and forth communication between the brand and podcaster to coordinate a single campaign. The typical buying process is a manual and labor intensive one that is managed and tracked entirely on spreadsheets. Because of this, bigger brands usually outsource their podcast buys to agencies. As a result, it’s much harder for newer brands with smaller budgets to buy podcast ads efficiently. 

Evo Terra, author of Podcasting For Dummies and self-proclaimed O.G. podcaster is one of many industry insiders that recognizes these challenges, “It’s way too complicated to make live, host-read ad buys at scale. The warm, fuzzy feelings advertisers get when they run live, host-read ads on a handful of podcasts quickly diminishes when they try to scale that to hundreds or thousands of shows.” 

You can’t scale host-read podcast ads using the same programmatic strategies as other digital platforms, such as video, because it’s critical to preserve what makes the podcast ad so effective to begin withauthenticity. This is why the industry has been hesitant to fully adopt programmatic ads, they risk losing the personal touch from the host that make podcast ads so powerful. 

Unlike other channels, host-read podcast ads prioritize the listener’s experience, seamlessly flowing into the content, while leveraging the audience’s relationship and trust with the host. A recent study has found that podcast advertising campaigns result in an average 10 times lift compared to print, digital, and tv. There is a reason that so many networks’ ad formats are host-read, because they work, especially for direct response brands.

Scaling host-read podcast ads

In order to scale host-read podcast ads, you must strike a balance to preserve and protect the value of host-read ads, while leveraging technology to add the speed and scalability of programmatic ads. But technology alone won’t solve scalability issues in podcasting, you must also be strategic with the type of shows you partner with to help your spend and reach go further. 

Embrace new technology 

The current standard for buying podcast ads is manual and labor intensive, taking weeks to put into place. It will be impossible to scale the host-read ad without leveraging new technologies and services including dynamic insertion and podcast ad marketplaces. 

RedCircle’s self-service Ad Marketplace modernizes the process of buying and selling podcast ads by allowing brands to build and launch their own custom campaigns without any middlemen. There are several key benefits to using RedCircle, starting with speed. You can launch and manage campaigns within days, instead of weeks using RedCircle. And since you have direct access to thousands of podcasters across a variety of categories on RedCircle, marketers have the ability to source their podcast inventory at scale and with flexible budgets. That means that RedCircle gives brands with any size budget accessibility to podcasting.

Dynamic insertion is another essential piece of technology to successfully scale host-read podcast ads. Instead of “baking in” host-read ads into the episode, the majority of networks today dynamically insert host-read ads. To the listener, it’s the same seamless experience as if the host was reading it live, and for brands, dynamic insertion gives them the ability to buy inventory across all episodes, not just new episodes. This ensures messaging remains fresh and relevant and can be heard across more inventory. It also ensures that brands get what they pay for; if you buy 100,000 insertions; the campaign is inserted until the budget is met. No need to count on historical download counts or trust in 3rd-party reporting.

Partner with independent podcasters

One of the other main barriers to scaling host-read podcast ads is cost. There’s over 800,000 podcasts worldwide, yet brands typically only access the top few hundred. For brands with modest budgets, it would be easy to burn your entire budget buying inventory on a single podcast that’s on the top 100 on Apple Podcasts.

In order to scale and make more efficient buys, brands of all sizes should start paying less attention to the big blockbuster shows, and start taking advantage of the dedicated niche audiences that listen to smaller, independent podcasts. While their audiences and download numbers may be small in comparison, their listeners are far more likely to trust and engage with the host. With RedCircle’s platform, you can aggregate tons of these indie podcasts into large-scale budgets as well.

There are several advantages to buying ads on smaller, independent shows. Smaller and new shows are often priced with lower CPMs. Less expensive inventory enables brands to be more flexible and test their budget across multiple shows and broaden their reach. Independent podcasts have dedicated audiences with content that is focused around niche categories. It’s a huge benefit to brands that want to accurately match up shows to their target audience.

Ready to scale?

Whether you are just starting out advertising on podcasts or looking for ways to expand your existing reach, RedCircle’s Ad Marketplace was built to enable brands to quickly and easily scale their host-read podcast campaigns. Sign up to learn more about advertising with RedCircle.

Podcast Advertising

Podcast Advertising Basics: A Marketers Guide

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Podcast advertising revenue is forecasted to exceed 1 billion by next year (2021) and has seen double-digit growth over the last five years. It’s clear that marketers have quickly come to realize just how relevant and effective podcast advertising is for the growth of their business. 

There are several reasons that podcasting has become such an attractive channel for marketers, no matter the size of their budget.

Podcasts might have once been a niche medium, but that is no longer the case. About 90 million Americans listen to podcasts each month and listening is only continuing to increase and become more and more mainstream. More importantly, podcasts have the ability to reach a niche and attractive demographics, which is why more and more brands are dedicating more of their budget to podcasts. 

Listeners feel personally connected to their favorite podcast hosts, making them some of the most loyal and passionate consumers. When podcast ads are done well they don’t feel like an ad. They sound more like a recommendation from a trusted friend and that’s what makes them  so effective. Listeners are also unlikely to manually skip over podcast ads since many people are listening to podcasts while doing something active – on their commute, while doing the dishes or working out. 

Not only are people paying attention to podcast ads, many listeners actually like the ads they hear on podcasts and according to AdWeek, 75% of podcast listeners follow the calls to actions. 

It’s clear that podcast advertising works! The great news is that you don’t have to be a household name brand or have a large budget to start advertising on podcasts. The key is to start small and scale up as your business grows.  

4 steps to launch your first podcast campaign

Step 1: Learn the language of podcast advertising

If you are new to podcast advertising, it’s important to understand the different variables that determine the value of a podcast ad, including the ad format itself, as well as how and where the ad gets inserted into the episode (aka the ad position). 

CPM Rate – Podcast ads are generally priced by a CPM rate or the cost per 1,000 listeners. For a host-read ad, the average CPM rate starts around $25 for a 60 second ad spot. Pre-recorded ads have much lower CPM rates that average just a few dollars.

Ad Formats

The two main types of podcast ad formats are Host-read Ads and Pre-recorded ads. 

Host-Read Ads

Host-read ads are read by the podcast host (or producer) and are the most common and traditional way of advertising on podcasts. The way that host-read ads get inserted into podcasts has evolved and changed over the last few years. Instead of being “baked in” or directly edited into the episode, now almost all major publishers and networks dynamically insert their host-read ads into the episode. 

Pre-Recorded Ads 

Pre-recorded ads are similar to traditional radio ads. These ads are recorded and supplied by the advertiser and are dynamically inserted into the episode. They are also significantly less expensive than host-read ads with a typical CPM of $3 – $11. 

Ad Positions

There are three different ad positions in a podcast: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. While the ad format determines the type of ad read and how the ad is inserted, the ad position determines where in the episode the ad will run. 

Pre-roll (15 – 60 seconds)

Pre-roll ads run before the episode starts or within its first few minutes and can be anywhere from 30 – 60 seconds long. Depending on the placement, pre-rolls can sometimes be skipped over so they are typically priced slightly less than mid-roll ad spots. We often encourage publishers to place the pre-roll slightly after the introduction for better performance.

Mid-Roll (30 – 90 seconds) 

Mid-roll ads run halfway through an episode and are usually a little longer and more in depth than a pre-roll or post-roll placement. Listeners are most engaged through the middle of an episode and make mid-rolls the most expensive and most effective ad placement.

Post-Roll (15 – 30 seconds) 

Post-roll ads run within the last few minutes of the episode or directly after the end of the episode content. Post-roll placements are typically shorter in length and priced the lowest because listenership tends to decline slightly by the end of an episode. 

Step 2: Find podcasts to partner with 

Once you are comfortable with how podcast advertising works and understand the various industry terms, the next step is to find and partner with podcasts. 

RedCircle’s Ad Marketplace makes it super easy to purchase ads from a diverse set of podcasts and allows you to launch a campaign within days, removing much of the manual process and back and forth communication with a middleman. 

Speed and testing are a few key benefits of managing and executing your campaign with RedCircle. You can easily A/B test and optimize your campaigns, whether it’s through messaging, ad formats or show placement, in addition to testing the channel as a whole before scaling. It’s simple to manage your budget across one or many shows and get a campaign up and running within days. 

Similar to creating a Facebook or Google ad, you can browse and select from thousands of podcasters and use RedCircle’s platform to build a custom host-read or pre-recorded ad campaign across multiple shows that fit your brand’s unique goals, timeline, and budget. 

Step 3: Create a personalized campaign that fits your goals & budget

The next step in the process is planning out your campaign. As a marketer, your goal is to make the biggest impact with the budget you have to spend and the inventory that is available. While a podcast’s audience size is a factor when deciding what shows you want to advertise with, it’s not the only consideration. What’s more important is the content and finding shows with audience demographics that align with your current or target customers. 

If you are new to podcast advertising or working with a smaller budget, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Shows that aren’t an obvious match with your product may still work well for customer acquisition. For example, if you’re advertising a business-related product, you shouldn’t just run ads on business podcasts, there are plenty of corporate decision makers listening to a sports or parenting podcast. It’s easy to run tests on different content categories with RedCircle so you can get a clear sense of what performs best for your brand. 

Want to make your budget and reach go further? Don’t overlook shows that have a smaller audience.

When looking for shows to advertise on, Brooklinen told NYT that “they tend to make “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.’” 

Step 4: Measure your ROI, optimize, and repeat

Given the nature of podcast advertising, there aren’t the typical well-defined metrics that marketers have come to expect from other digital channels. The majority of podcast ads, whether host-read or pre-recorded are direct response campaigns, which means that promotion codes, surveys, and vanity URLs are the best way to track the performance of the overall campaign and individual shows. 

While promotion codes and vanity URLS are the most direct way to track the effectiveness of your ad, you also have to make the assumption that some new customers come from the ad campaign indirectly. There’s several different tools and metrics you can use to get a fuller picture of your campaign performance, including:

Check-Out Survey

Not everyone will remember to use the podcaster’s unique promo code when they go to make a purchase. Including a quick survey question asking how the customer heard about your brand will improve the accuracy of your attribution. 

Third-Party Tracking 

There are a few third-party podcast attribution products, such as Podsights and Chartable. They essentially connect a podcast’s downloads to activity on your website to give both the advertiser and the podcaster additional insight into the effectiveness of a campaign. 

Referral & Direct Traffic 

Many podcasters include their sponsors and vanity links in their show notes so you can track whether you see an uptick of direct and referral traffic to your website using Google Analytics throughout the campaign.

Tracking podcast attribution is not a perfect science, so it’s important not to get caught up in the individual metrics and focus on the performance as a whole. 

Once you’ve ran a few campaigns and experimented with different messaging, ad formats and podcast categories – it will become clear what is working and what isn’t. Like any other medium in marketing, testing and continuing to optimize your campaign based on the data is key to driving better performing campaigns.  

Want to learn more about advertising with RedCircle? Sign up and we’ll get in touch! 

Announcements

How Podcasters Can Help Slow the Spread of Coronavirus

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In these difficult and uncertain times, listeners are turning to your podcast as a source of information or a source of comfort. Many people around the world are stuck at home and tuning into their favorite podcasts to get the latest coverage on the coronavirus crisis, or for a welcome distraction from the news.

Over the past few weeks, countless influencers and celebrities have used social media to find creative ways to entertain people and more importantly use their influence to encourage their audience to stay at home and do their part to slow the spread of Coronavirus. 

Share the #AloneTogether message with your listeners 

At RedCircle, we know that our creators want to do everything they can to help support their listeners and keep our communities safe during this unprecedented time. 

We’ve partnered with the Ad Council, a nonprofit organization responsible for producing, distributing and promoting public service announcements (PSAs), to help support the urgent response to Coronavirus. We hope you’ll join their #AloneTogether campaign by adding your own PSA in your podcast in the upcoming weeks and months.  

Your voice can make an enormous impact on efforts to slow the spread of Coronavirus by bringing awareness to the importance of social distancing and urging your listeners to take this seriously and stay at home if able, in addition to supporting mental health and wellness. 

Below are a few of the talking points from the Ad Council for you to highlight. Remember to keep the message positive and encouraging and say ‘Coronavirus’ instead of ‘COVID-19’ since it’s easier to understand.

  • Stay home if you can. It can save lives.
  • Staying home during the coronavirus outbreak saves lives. Why? Because people who don’t have any symptoms can still spread the virus without knowing it. 
  • Everyone – including young adults – is at risk for coronavirus. The best way to protect yourself is to stay home.
  • Staying home helps lower the risk for everyone, including your family members and those most at risk.
  • Stay a minimum of 6 feet – or two arms-length – away from others.
  • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping and social visits.
  • Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts—use drive through or delivery options.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • If you have symptoms of fever, dry cough and shortness of breath, call your health care provider before going to their office.

For a full list of talking points, scripts, social assets and other helpful  resources visit coronavirus.adcouncilkit.org.

If you don’t want to record your own PSA, you can also go directly to the Ad Council website to download a pre-recorded 15-30 second spot that is ready to go. 

Now is the perfect time to share what you’ve been up to while socially distancing. Give your listeners suggestions on how to stay busy and keep their spirits up while spending so much time at home, often by themselves. Our favorite advice of course, is staying home and listening to a podcast. 

The more you share the better! If you share your message on social media, be sure to use the official hashtag from the Ad Council, #AloneTogether. 

Use dynamic insertion to distribute your PSA message to listeners

To get this important message out quickly and easily, we suggest recording your own message or usinga pre-recorded PSA from the Ad Council  and using dynamic insertion to insert it into your most recent and upcoming episodes over the coming weeks. 

  1. Record your audio clip 
  2. Add the audio file to an audio block 
  3. Assign the audio block to insertion points throughout your upcoming and recent episodes. 

Get more information about using dynamic insertion here.

Thanks for your support and being a vital part of the RedCircle community. Now more than ever, we’re extra thankful for all the amazing podcasts on our platform that are a much-needed respite from the challenges of social distancing.

Podcasting Tips

What Makes a Really Good Podcast Ad? 7 Tips to Improve Your Ad’s Performance

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Podcast advertising has helped countless creators turn their passion project into a profitable business. For podcasters that are just starting to sell ads on their show, we created a guide to understand how podcast advertising works and what to expect from the process. 

But finding and negotiating an ad deal is just half the battle. How well your ad performs is equally important. It determines whether an advertiser chooses to continue running ads on your show. It could affect future opportunities with other advertisers. And don’t forget how it affects listeners’ overall experience of your show.

Podcast ads are authentic and have more impact than any other form of advertising today. Advertisers have realized how well podcast ads perform, which is why podcast ad revenue is growing exponentially. That said, not all ads are created equal. Only good podcast ads work.

What makes a really good podcast ad? 

When a host-read ad is done well, it doesn’t feel like an ad at all and flows seamlessly into the rest of the episode. The whole goal is to keep listeners engaged, so an ad should never feel like an interruption or nuisance. Which is why it’s important to treat your ad content with the same thought and consideration that goes into the rest of your show. 

Many resources focus on helping creators find advertisers, but there’s not much out there to help them execute a great performing ad. If you haven’t advertised on your podcast before, the brand or agency typically gives you suggested ad copy or bulleted talking points and a checklist of instructions, but not much guidance on how to make the ad perform well.  

Even if you’ve been advertising on your show for a while, there’s always room for improvement. Ever accidentally uploaded the wrong episode file? We’re only human and occasionally something is bound to fall through the cracks.  

So we reached out to brands, advertising agencies, and podcasters for their expertise and advice for creating ads that not only perform well for the advertiser, but also resonates with your listeners.

1. Be authentic 

The most important thing is to simply be yourself when reading an ad. Let your personality shine. Your listeners tune in because of you, they want to hear about products in your own voice that feels genuine. 

“At the end of the day, the best performing podcast ads are ones that are true to the content and the personalities on the show. Whether it’s a read that ties into an inside joke on the show, or calls upon host’s personal experience in explaining the benefits of a product, truly personalized podcast reads will always outperform those that utilize generic copy.”

Will Flaherty, VP of Growth at Ro.co

Podcast advertisers gravitate to podcasters who are able to personalize the ad message and relate it to their unique show and audience. Advertisers realize that you are the expert on the audience they are spending money to reach, so they trust you to inject your own voice when sharing their message.

2. Get creative 

Don’t be afraid to step outside of the box and take a creative approach to your ads.  Think about what podcast ads grab your attention as a listener, it’s likely something that made you laugh or included a relatable anecdote. When it comes down to it, good podcast ads are entertaining. 

The best part about podcast ads is the fact that they can be fun and don’t have to be commercial or formal like radio ads. So have fun with it. While the advertiser will have talking points they want you to hit, feel free to rephrase them into your own voice and make it personal. Whether you choose to write your own script or wing it and rift off the copy, the most effective ads sound unscripted and natural. 

3. Keep things flowing

When you cut to your ad break, a good segue helps make it sound less intrusive and more natural. Whether you use a clip of your theme music or simply tell listeners that “we’ll be right back”, you want your ads to flow naturally in and out of your episode. 

4. Publish episodes consistently

When an advertiser is vetting a new podcast, one of the first things they’ll do is check out the show on iTunes. If they see a podcast hasn’t published an episode for 6 months, they likely won’t be interested in advertising on that show. Advertisers want to allocate money to podcasts that publish on a consistent basis because they are reliable. Shows that are consistent continue to grow their audience and are ultimately most successful. Which is why consistency is always a best practice, whether you are looking for advertisers or not. 

5. Follow instructions 

Be sure to follow the advertiser’s instructions to the letter. If the advertiser marks a line of copy as required, include it in your read verbatim. If it’s a 60 second spot, then your ad read must be at least 60 seconds long. Don’t worry about going over 60 seconds, in fact some of the best performing podcast ads are 90 seconds or more. 

Always double check that you’ve hit all the advertisers requirements before uploading your ad. If you miss a required point or the read is too short, you may receive an email with the most dreaded four words in podcasting: “We need a makegood…”. If the advertiser isn’t satisfied, they may want you to give them a free spot to make up for the error. Obviously you’d rather have to ability to make more money from a new ad instead. 

6. Be selective

Don’t be afraid to be selective about what you endorse, your listeners should come first and foremost. Only choose brands and products that you’re passionate about and would use yourself. Your listeners trust you, they’re going to trust your recommendations and it’s crucial to protect that relationship. 

“Creating and recording ads for The Trauma Therapist | Podcast, for me, really comes down to one question: am I excited about, and do I believe in what I’m doing? Am I psyched about my mission to get the word out about the prevalence and effect of psychological trauma, and the podcast I’ve created around that? Because if I’m able to answer yes–which I am!–then everything flows from there. That excitement allows me to get up the guts to even approach relevant sponsors I want to work with and which I feel are going to benefit my audience. That excitement also allows me to share my genuine belief in what I’m trying to do with the podcast through the query letters I send to potential sponsors, and then finally, it gets translated into the actual recording of the ads, whether they’re live reads or recorded pre- and end-rolls.“

Guy Macpherson, Host of The Trauma Therapist Podcast

Advertisers want you to be able to talk about the brand from your personal experience. Most (if not all) advertisers will send you free trials or products before the ad runs. Just be sure you take the time to take the product for a test drive ahead of time. 

7. Repeat the call-to-action 

Generally host-read ads are direct response and end with a call-to-action. This unique code or vanity URL is required and it’s the main way advertisers measure an ad’s performance. The more listeners that hear the ad and use your code when they make a purchase, the better your ad performs. 

Which is why it is very important to clearly and accurately recite the call to action two to three times. Repeating the promo code or even spelling it out may seem like overkill, but it is helpful for listeners and will make a difference in the ad’s performance.

Here are few other best practices for the call-to-action:

  • Double check the direct response URL or promo code is valid 
  • Make your promo code is unique and keep it consistent across all advertisers
  • List promo codes and links you mention in your show notes
  • Keep a running list of all active promo codes on your website 
  • Share promo codes on your social channels 

If you aren’t quite ready to advertise on your podcast or you want to add other monetization strategies to the mix, RedCircle can also help you make money with donations and subscriptions to exclusive content

Just starting out advertising? Check out our Podcaster’s Guide to Advertising for everything you need to know about selling ads on your podcast. 

Announcements

Introducing Dynamic Insertion

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Starting today, you can insert any audio clip into your content on demand using RedCircle’s new Dynamic Insertion technology. When your listeners download or stream your episode, RedCircle will stitch together a unique version of your episode on the fly. Like our other features, every RedCircle creator can access this technology for free.

How to use Dynamic Insertion 

Dynamic Insertion gives you more control over your listener’s experience and the flexibility to easily swap out timely content. Whether you advertise on your podcast or not, there are many ways that technology can be useful. For example, you can use Dynamic Insertion to: 

Dynamically insert ads

Instead of “baking in” your ads, you can record your spot ahead of time and choose exactly where it gets inserted in your episode, as well as insert the same ad across multiple episodes. Once the ad expires, you can remove it and open up that advertising space for another buyer and continue to earn ad revenue on your back catalog. This also ensures listeners are served relevant ads and current offers when they download an old episode. You can even A/B test two different versions of an ad using Dynamic Insertion to help improve your ad performance. 

Move around Cross-Promotion campaigns 

If you’re currently running RedCircle Cross Promotions, they are inserted pre-roll by default. But now, with Dynamic Insertion you can specify exactly where you’d like your cross promotions to play within your content. 

Run your own promotions

Dynamic Insertion makes it easy to run your own promotions across your entire show. Do you accept donations or sell subscriptions? Record a promotion reminding listeners to donate or subscribe to the show and easily drop it into your most recent episodes. Or run a promotion that you can reuse every episode encouraging listeners to review the show or follow you on social media. When a promotion is no longer relevant, you’re able to quickly swap it out for an updated version, or just remove it entirely. 

Drop in repeatable content 

You likely have elements of your podcast that remain the same episode to episode, such as intro music, fallback audio for empty ad spots, or your outro credits. With Dynamic Insertion, you can insert the same audio clip across multiple episodes and if needed, you can easily update the clip later and change the audio file across all those episodes at the same time. 

Learn more about how to use Dynamic Insertion for your podcast, here.  

Get started using RedCircle’s Dynamic Insertion

To get started, you’ll first need to create an audio block. An audio block is a collection of audio clips (i.e. a host-read ad, a cross promotion, a self promotion, etc.) with rules about how they get played. Once you’ve named your new audio block, you can upload new audio files or select an existing cross promotion from the drop down. 

To change the order of audio files within an audio block, simply drag and drop the files. Next, select the play style: do you want the files to be played randomly or in order? Finally, you can limit the number of audio files that are played when the audio block is inserted using the “play up to” field. For example, if you are running two ads, but you only want to play one ad at a time you can limit the insertions to only play up to one clip and select random ordering. You can learn more about how audio blocks work here.

Once you’ve created an audio block, you’ll need to add some insertion points which mark the exact point where the audio block gets inserted into the episode. First, choose an episode to add or edit your insertion points.

You click directly on the waveform to add a new insertion point marker, then zoom in and pan around the audio to adjust it as needed. Or just manually enter in a time stamp. You can add multiple insertion points using our editor to any point in your episode — pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll. Find more info on how to configure Insertion Points here

Once you’ve added your insertion points, you can assign audio blocks to multiple insertion points across any number of episodes.

From the ‘Insertion Points’ page, you can see at a glance which episodes have insertion points and quickly swap audio blocks in or out.

Dynamic Insertion opens up a world of exciting possibilities for independent creators to operate their podcast with the same technology as the big networks. Here’s a few of the benefits of using dynamic insertion: 

  • Keep your podcast’s back catalog fresh and relevant 
  • Streamlining your workflow and save you time 
  • Open opportunities with new brands and advertisers
  • Gain control of your listener’s experience 

We can’t wait to hear how you use Dynamic Insertion in your podcast!

Podcasting Tips

The Podcaster’s Guide to Advertising

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Like any other form of media today, there are two main approaches to podcast monetization: a consumer-supported approach or an ad-supported approach. Better yet, you can combine the two strategies and leave the choice to your listeners. Hulu is a great example of this—you have the option of paying to watch their content ad free, or you can watch the ads and enjoy the content for free. 

Podcast ads are here to stay

As podcasting has evolved and become mainstream, donation and subscription models have proven to be effective ways to monetize. But one thing is certain: the ad-supported approach isn’t going anywhere. Advertising is the most popular way to monetize podcasts for a few reasons….

Advertising is typically the most lucrative monetization method for large podcasters and represents the largest chunk of many of these creator’s revenue. Ads also keeps your podcast free for listeners and provides everyone access to your content. Making your podcast widely accessible is key to retaining and growing your audience.

Advertisers want in on podcasting 

There’s also more money than ever before being poured into podcasting advertising. Which is great news for podcasters. In the past five years, advertisers have come to realize just how relevant and effective podcast advertising is. NPR’s podcast revenues will overtake broadcasting for the first time next year and according to IAB, podcast advertising revenue overall is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2021. 

It’s clear why podcasting has become such an attractive channel for advertisers. One third of Americans, about 90 million people have listened to a podcast in the past month (Edison Research) and 75% of podcast listeners not only pay attention to podcast ads (adweek), they also follow the calls to actions. 

The ins & outs of podcast advertising

All that said, advertising is more complicated than other monetization methods. You first need to find an advertiser that’s a good fit (or they may find you), then agree on the length and terms of the campaign, and once the deal is in place, you’ve got to read an ad that performs well so you can rinse and repeat. If you are just getting started advertising, it can be challenging to know where to start. 

What are the different types of ads? 

The majority of podcast ads are Programmatic ads or Direct Response ads. There are a few major differences between the two. 

Programmatic ads are similar to traditional radio ads. They’re pre-recorded ads that are supplied by an agency or network in bulk to automatically fill designated open ad inventory on your show.

This offers a low-effort way to make some ad revenue or sell unused inventory, though the CPM rate is modest in comparison to direct response ads. The main drawback is that you lose the creative control over what ads are running on your show, although there is a lot of new technology that’s improving the targeting of automated ads.

Direct Response ads that are host read are the most common type of podcast ad (IAB). This type of ad is read by the podcast host and tracked by the advertiser using a call to action, which is a unique code or vanity URL that gives some sort of exclusive offer to listeners.

Advertisers prefer host-read ad spots because they outperform programmatic ads. The fact that the ad is read directly to a highly engaged audience by a voice they trust is the reason advertisers have fully bought into podcast advertising. It’s powerful. It’s also the least disruptive and most organic way to advertise on your podcast. Which means your listeners prefer host-read ads, especially when you have fun with it and make the ad feel a part of your show. 

How are ads inserted? 

There are two ways to get ads inserted into your episode:

Baked in ads are a part of your actual podcast and are either read live by the host or directly edited into the episode. Baked in ads will always live within the content and everyone that downloads that episode will always hear the same ad. 

Dynamically inserted ads are served to the listener at the time the ad is requested, which means that people may hear different ads when they download the episode.

The industry is increasingly moving towards dynamic insertion, but the advertiser may have a preference. Baked-in ads live in your episode forever so when listeners download an old episode, they may come across stale ads that are promoting expired offers. Dynamic ad-serving technology enables you to seamlessly switch out ads into old episodes, which allows you to potentially resell ad spots and keep your catalog fresh for listeners. 

This technology isn’t limited to ads, you can also use it to insert your own timely promotions into your show. For example, you could promote an upcoming live show or remind people to support the show by donating or reviewing the show on iTunes. 

RedCircle’s Dynamic Insertion technology makes it easy to insert any audio clip into your content on demand. When listeners download or stream an episode, RedCircle stitches together a unique version of your episode on the fly.

How do advertisers select shows? 

The advertiser’s goal is to make the biggest impact with the budget they have to spend and what inventory is available to them. While a podcast’s audience size is a factor when advertisers are deciding what shows they want to advertise with, it’s not the only consideration. What’s more important for advertisers is the content and finding shows with audience demographics that align with their current or target customers. 

When looking for shows to advertise on, Brooklinen told NYT that “they tend to make “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.’”

It’s difficult to get perfect demographic data for podcasts, especially if you are an independent creator. The best way to learn more about your listeners is through audience surveys using tools like Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Surveys are helpful for both you and potential advertisers to decide what kinds of brands and products will resonate with your listeners.

How do advertisers buy podcast ads & what’s a CPM rate?

Advertisers pay podcasters a CPM rate or the cost per 1,000 listeners. For a direct response ad, the average CPM rate starts around $25 for a 60 second spot. Programmatic ads pay much lower CPM rates and average just a few dollars. Once you’ve ran a few successful campaigns with advertisers, you can start to raise your CPM rate incrementally and gain the leverage to negotiate higher CPM rates with future advertisers. 

How do advertisers measure audience size? 

Advertisers base the size of your audience on the number of unique downloads per episode. This can be challenging for podcasters to calculate because your downloads may fluctuate episode to episode. Plus, you are having to make an assumption about the number of downloads you’ll be receiving in the future. So what’s the best way to accurately calculate your downloads? 

President of Sonic Influence Marketing, Jenni Skaug tells us when SonicIM buys ads on a per episode basis, they “expect podcasts to provide the average number of downloads they’ve received over a 4-week period on episodes that have been live for at least 30 days.”


It’s important to be as accurate as possible when reporting your downloads to advertisers. If your reported downloads fall short, the advertiser may require you to do a redo at no cost. If your downloads are much higher than reported, you will not be paid more for those additional downloads. RedCircle helps you avoid this pitfall by only providing the most accurate data for your podcast.

How do advertisers measure ad performance? 

How well your ad performs determines whether an advertiser opts to renew your show and could potentially affect future opportunities with other advertisers. 

Since direct response ads always end in a call to action, advertisers track how many of your listeners that heard the ad and completed the action, which is typically making a purchase. Advertisers will also often make the assumption that some percentage of new customers come from the podcast ad indirectly. For example, if there’s an increase of new organic users over the same period that a podcast ad campaign ran, advertisers will assume this was an indirect result of the ad. 

→ Want to improve the performance of your podcast ads? Check out our tips from industry experts for recording podcast ads that not only perform well for the advertiser, but also resonates with your listeners.

More ways to monetize

When executed the right way, podcast advertising can be a win all around— for the podcaster, the advertiser, and the listeners. RedCircle helps podcasters that are ready to advertise by getting their show in front of potential advertisers. That doesn’t mean advertising is easy, there’s a lot of time and energy that goes into finding, planning, and executing an ad campaign.

If you aren’t ready to advertise yet, RedCircle offers other great ways to make money podcasting. You can ask your listeners to support your show by making a monthly donation, or set up a paid subscription that paywalls access to exclusive content, whether that’s ad-free listening, bonus episodes, exclusive interviews, or full access to your back catalog.

However you choose to monetize your podcast, RedCircle’s monetization tools and dynamic insertion technology will support your show and revenue goals, whether your podcast is well-established or only just emerging.

Be Heard