Podcast Advertising

How to Scale Host-Read Podcast Ads

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.