In a world of ever-shrinking attention spans and 60-second videos, the long-form podcast has shocked many skeptics by becoming a dominant genre. With over 2 million active podcasts, and over 400 million podcast listeners this year, these figures have only gone upward, and the trend shows no signs of stopping.
Podcasts have often been seen as something to listen to while commuting, which suddenly stopped during the covid-19 lockdowns. Despite this, podcast listenership has only increased during this time. According to Spotify’s recent survey of listeners, 67% of people are increasing their consumption of streaming audio. More interestingly, friends and family are now listening to podcasts as group entertainment. In the same report, Spotify revealed that 47% of its audience listened to its podcast content in a group setting within the two weeks prior to taking the survey.
Many ecommerce brands have seen great success by advertising or partnering with podcasts to share their message with listeners. But what are the various types of podcast advertising, and which strategies are best to target shoppers at all points along the sales funnel?
Perhaps most importantly of all, what are the price points for advertising on podcasts, and is it really worth it?
There are a surprising number of ways for your brand to partner with podcasts. Keep in mind that some forms of advertising are more effective when the podcast is focused on your vertical. For example, the listeners of a fashion podcast may be far more interested in ads for beauty products.
Podcasts outside of your vertical are certainly still worth investing in, just consider their audience higher up in the sales funnel. They may not even be thinking of making a purchase yet, but this lets your brand be the first one to make an impression on them.
Below are some of the common advertising methods and their benefits.
As the name implies, these ads are read by the hosts themselves. As the brand owner, you can give a script for hosts to read verbatim, or you can let them improvise the ad spot, perhaps with a list of bullet points to include.
Host-read ads are the most popular and effective option for a critical reason. Podcast listeners develop a strong parasocial relationship with their favorite hosts, which increases trust in the hosts’ recommendations and measurably increases the results compared to non-host-read ads.
“...host-read ads outperform non-host-read ads when we look at inspiring listeners to seek more information about a product. Host-read ads also produce an average of 50% increase in purchase and recommendation intent among listeners when compared against non-host-read ads.” - The Nielsen Company
If you want your message to be perfectly manicured, pre-recorded advertisements are the best fit. Your ad can play during the beginning, middle, or end of the podcast, and there is never a chance for a mistake. The show will cut away to your ad, and then come back, much the same as traditional radio or television advertising.
Sponsorships are a large umbrella of possibilities. You could sponsor a segment of a podcast, a whole episode, or more. Benefits could include:
Putting your product in a host’s hands can become the best advertising possible, especially if they fall in love with it.
There might be one particular feature that they think is the best thing ever, which you could ask them to then highlight on the podcast, while also mentioning other functions or features of your product(s). One ringing endorsement from a trusted podcaster with hands-on experience can put a brand on the map.
For podcasts that frequently bring on guests, actively being part of the conversation puts a human face on your brand, and adds an emotional connection. As an interviewee, you will be able to speak directly about your brand and your products, allowing you to control the narrative on the platform of your choosing. If the podcast isn’t specifically about your niche, you might bring up your brand in the interview, but not make it the main focus of the conversation. Sometimes in advertising, subtlety is key.
When it comes to choosing a podcast to partner with, and how that partnership will work, there are many possible winning solutions. The right fit, however, depends on the results you want to achieve, and who precisely you’re trying to target.
If your brand has a broad appeal (e.g. beauty products, pet supplies, or toys), you can cast a wider net. Look for podcasts with empirically large audiences, regardless of whether the subject or topics are in your vertical. Their listeners may not ostensibly be in your sales funnel, but adding your brand to their advertisers list may help increase your reach to a prospective audience, which is arguably just as important.
If you want to diversify that reach, you can work with several smaller podcasts instead of a single massive one, which may also help with cost in your allocated advertising spend. Remember, too, the value of repetition. The more people hear your message, the more they will internalize and normalize your brand. Buying several ad spots on a smaller show can be much more valuable than a single ad spot on a larger one.
For this outcome, consider focusing on podcasts related to your brand’s category. Listeners with an affinity for the subject may already be looking for the products you sell, so here is the time to convert them into your customers with podcast host endorsements, product reviews, or interviews.
Be sure to entice listeners to take action. Offer a discount or a free gift for listeners who make a purchase. You can do this through a coupon code or an affiliate link. Some advertisers put a time limit on the offer (one week, or one month). Other times, the offer is only available for the first X number of people who redeem it. If you estimate that 10% of listeners will act on the offer, you can judge what the cutoff should be based on the audience size of the specific podcast.
Did You Know?
According to Midroll Media, 60% of podcast listeners have made purchases from ads.
In principle, the rules for podcast advertising are very much the same. The price for an ad spot will depend on the length of the ad (usually 30 or 60 seconds), where in the podcast it’s placed (beginning, midroll, or end), and how many people actually hear it.
Figures are usually given in CPM (cost per mille), or the price for 1,000 impressions. In 2022, the average CPM for 30-second ads was $18. For 60-second ads, average CPM is $25.
Because ad rates are proportional to the audience reached, your budget doesn’t really care if you invest in one large podcast, or several smaller ones. The same is true for investing in one single episode with a big audience, or several episodes with a smaller podcast.
Beyond basic ad reads, the answer gets a little less straightforward. The cost for sponsorships, interviews, and product placements will depend on the strength and size of the podcast itself, and the amount of competitors trying to fill those ad slots. The good news is that you can reach out to the podcast showrunners directly and start finding out their going rates.
Podcast advertising is not the wild west that it was 10 years ago, but there is still plenty of opportunity to reach new, highly engaged audiences. Many of the traditional advertising methods for TV and radio still hold value, but don’t let that stifle your creativity in how you develop your partnerships. Sellers on Amazon stand to increase the reach of their brand significantly with well-targeted podcast ads, and could very well create new revenue streams for their products.
If you are sending advertising traffic to a dedicated landing page, be sure to use a tool like PixelMe to track crucial customer interaction data and build invaluable retargeting lists that boost sales and organic traffic.
You can check out Carbon6’s very own podcast - Elements of Success - to hear current industry professionals sharing their experiences, insights and wisdom gained from years and decades in the Amazon ecommerce space.