Why Podcasts are moving past host read ads!

Podcasts have become something of a cultural touchstone and a new subject to bring up at the “water-cooler” alongside weekend activities and the latest episode of your favorite TV show.  Titles like Serial, This American Life, and the Joe Rogan Experience have catapulted the medium into the mainstream, and new and exciting creators continue to delight listeners with each episode.

For consumers, podcasts provide highly engrossing screenless content, which makes it easy to consume while occupied by other activities. The content podcasts provide was previously obtainable only through screen-based media in the form of documentaries, live programming, news programs and more, but the transition to an audio format has drawn renewed interest in those categories of content. According to Edison’s Infinite Dial, in 2019, 51% of Americans had already listened to a podcast, with 32% listening to podcasts monthly. Edison also reported that podcasting’s “Share of Ear” has risen 122% since 20141

This growing popularity makes podcasts an interesting opportunity for advertisers that are looking to reach their audience in new ways: in the same study, Edison reported that 54% of podcast consumers say that they are more likely to consider purchasing a brand if they heard it advertised on podcasts.

And this growing interest is forcing change in the way podcasts are monetized. Podcasts have long relied on a host-read monetization model, with small and medium podcasters introducing sponsors and products to their listeners in order to monetize and sustain their content as they build their reputation. This allowed advertisers to speak more intimately to their audience and build trust with listeners that knew these advertisements were funding their content.

But host-read ads are a significant time investment and need to be changed frequently as campaigns evolve, sponsorship agreements end, and brand objectives change. With over 800,000 podcasts and 30 million episodes available today, host-read ads are simply becoming unsustainable to create and manage.

So how can advertisers continue to leverage podcasts given this bottleneck?

The answer is Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI). By focusing on aggregating podcasts within a theme or subject (e.g. Business/Finance or Lifestyle) and matching it to an audience segment, brands can leverage existing audio assets and deliver ads at scale.

However, podcasts are a one-to one environment, where authenticity is as important as entertainment, so this transition will need a higher level of engagement from advertisers, as they will not be able to rely on the podcaster to maintain the tone and feel of the content.

Given the changing landscape of podcasting, here are a few things to consider when building out a podcast campaign:

Loud ads work for radio, not podcasts

Podcasts leverage the soothing properties of the human voice to build a mood for its listeners. Ads playing in that environment should appeal to that mood. Overly upbeat, loud, and attention-seeking ads present in radio and streaming content are less desirable in lean-in content like podcasts that already own the listener’s attention.

Tell an engaging story

The content in podcasts have already helped you connect with your audience, so ads need to maintain and nurture that connection over the course of 60 seconds. Telling a compelling story or anecdote to leverage that attention will help create a deeper connection with your audience and, most importantly, keep them from reaching for the skip button

Consider your audience

Podcasts are often created and developed by individuals that have built a brand around their content and trust throughout their fan base, often without engaging with larger distributors. They rely on monetization to sponsor their content and their listeners know it. So, listeners will be more patient with advertisers, but brands must learn to tailor their messaging to the podcast environment and to their designated themes.  As an example, a QSR advertisement may be off-tone in a Health and Lifestyle Podcast if it does not properly address that audience.

In conclusion, DAI creates new and exciting opportunities for both podcast advertisers and content producers. For advertisers the benefits are efficiency, scale, and targeting. As a “DIY” podcast creator myself, I am enthusiastic that DAI offers part-time podcasters like me the chance to participate in monetization opportunities previously unavailable without a larger workload.  DAI, combined with unprecedented access to recording facilities, will galvanize advertisers and the podcast industry as it continues with its meteoric rise in popularity.

1 Edison Research from this study https://www.edisonresearch.com/the-podcast-consumer-2019

Article written by Dave Sosson

Dave Sosson is a senior digital media sales consultant located in Targetspot’s New York office. As a passionate advocate for digital audio, with an appetite for new technology, Dave has a deep understanding of programmatic marketing and has been a digital audio contributor for the past 20 years. Today, Dave leverages his expertise to bring new and exciting digital audio advertising solutions to Targetspot’s customers.

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