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.