Dead Eyes, Home Cooking, Meet Me at the Museum, Business Wars: all over the world, the podcast market is coming into its own with growing audience ratings. This is a boon for brands, which now have a unique affinity communication channel where the podcast host can play a key role for advertisers.
In 2014, Mailchimp achieved a feat – placing a hilarious 19-second advertisement at the opening of Sarah Koenig’s dramatic podcast ‘Serial‘. At the time, it was the podcast producers who approached a company specialising in newsletters. The format took off immediately, for one simple reason: a native podcast creates an intimate relationship with its audience. Here, the contrast between the content of the podcast and the commercial hits the nail on the head.
Inserting an advertising message that resonates with the podcast makes sense to the audience. In the United States, research conducted by NPR indicates that listeners have a more positive perception of brands that support the podcasts they produce.
These avenues allow you to aim for the right target when you choose to sponsor a podcast.
Your messages must be perfectly integrated into the podcast
To capitalise on the listener’s affinity with the podcast, the placement of the audio ad must be integrated so that it is non-invasive in the programme. This is the exact opposite of the traditional placement of radio commercials, in regular blocks. Heather Osgood, CEO of True Native Media, recommends two specific time slots: a short-format pre-roll at the beginning of the podcast, and a “mid-roll, in the middle of or at least 25% from the end of the podcast”. The listener, who is already engaged in listening, will then be unlikely to turn off the podcast. This is why the mid-roll format is also generally the most expensive.
Post-roll is to be avoided. It is highly likely that “the listener will turn off the podcast episode before the ad at the end” – unless it brings added value and is expected: a coupon, solving a puzzle, the terms of a competition.
Host-read: the presenter of the podcast can be your voice.
This practice, inherited from analogue radio in the 1970s and ‘80s, consists of having the podcast host read out a commercial message. This format, which divides podcasters, sometimes for ethical reasons, emphasises the listener’s experience by aiming for native integration of the message within the content. Advertisers can then capitalise heavily on the aura and confidence of the person presenting the episode. This is especially true when a brand chooses to sponsor an independent podcast.
According to Frances Harlow, an independent podcast producer, “it’s not like TV, where the commercial comes on and you kind of tune out. People don’t skip [host-read] ads because they like the host, so they’re getting more of what they came for.”
A powerful original format
According to analysis conducted by Stitcher, ads read out by the podcast host far exceed classic spoken word ads in a podcast in terms of recognition. 58% of listeners exposed to such ads correctly recognise a brand, compared to 35% for a traditional recorded ad.
All forms of advertising work as podcasts, but host-read ads clearly outperform. The report explains this performance: “A podcast host is not just a personality, but an influencer. This does not mean that only host-read ads should be used, but that each format has its place in the architecture of a campaign.”
The brand can create its own credible native podcast
Trader Joe’s, a supermarket chain with a presence in the western United States, offers a podcast that is watched by several million people every month. The secret of a brand capable of creating a successful podcast is the decision to offer relevant content in areas that are close to its heart – sustainable development, local agriculture, societal values – without ever mentioning the products on the shelves.
For example, at the end of September, there was an episode devoted to pumpkins, the centrepiece of American tables and decoration at Halloween. The format is clear – talk about subjects where the brand is legitimate, while taking care to keep as far away as possible from the classic marketing market logic.
Natural referencing is a major additional asset
Since 2019, Google has been indexing podcasts in its search results, making them easier to read via its own tool, Google Podcast. When a brand sponsors a podcast, it can be present in the meta-descriptions and therefore appear in the search results as a sponsor of the podcast episode or series. This is a natural and largely unexploited bonus, which, in parallel with your audio ad, relies on meta information (SEO) to be negotiated with the podcast producer.
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