Podcast advertising can be an important component of marketing your business. Unlike many trends that come and go, podcast advertising has cemented a place as part of a business’ media mix. According to IAB’s U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study, prepared by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) published in May 2021, podcast advertising revenues are expected to exceed $1 billion in 2021, and $2 billion by 2023. There are plenty of reasons why podcast advertising is such a huge marketing channel – provided, of course, that brands know how to use it effectively.

To understand this trend, let’s look at few numbers. Edison Research and Triton Digital’s 2021 Edition of  Edison Research’s, Infinite Dial Canada  found that 57% of adult Canadians have listened to podcasts, with 38% consuming monthly. Weekly podcast listeners average 5 podcasts weekly. That’s a massive and engaged audience to tap into. 

What’s the big deal about podcasts anyway?

First and foremost.  Podcasts aren’t Broadcast.

Podcasts are pre-recorded audio programs that audiences listen to at their own convenience. Appointment media is dead. According to Infinite Dial Canada study, most of the time podcasts are consumed at home, Canadians are also listening in the car, while walking around, at work, while exercising, on public transit or when and wherever consumers are going about their daily chores. With no rules and free distribution, there is a podcast about everything and for everybody. They are deep dives into topics of broad or niche interest. Listeners find their tribe and, thanks to their conversational nature, make an instant connection with the host. Listeners are deeply engaged, not casual and passive. Podcasts occupy that sweet spot where sponsored content, influencer marketing and advertising intersect.

Who is listening to Podcasts?

While these numbers are continually evolving, according to the Canadian Podcast Listener report of 2020 the typical Podcast listener is young, affluent and educated.  The profile shows that Podcasts listeners index at 173 against 18-34 year olds, 134 for HHI above $100,000 annually and 159 at completed University. Podcasts listenership skews slightly male. More than with any other medium, Canadians are listening because they want to learn something new, get information or be inspired.

What podcast advertising means for businesses

The wide variety of podcasts (almost 2 million at last count, with about 48 million episodes) means that no matter how niche your business, chances are there’s a podcast with an engaged audience passionately exploring your business or a related topic.  Advertising on such a podcast means that you automatically have a targeted audience with a huge potential to turn into customers. 54 percent of podcast listeners surveyed by Edison Research said that hearing an ad on a podcast was likely to influence them to purchase a product when compared to commercials in other places.  While hyper-targeting of a podcast topic can be desirable and is possible, it can also be a challenge to achieve any kind of scale. With so much content, achieving scale is difficult outside of the top 5% of shows. If your campaign needs to be geo-targeted, it’s even more problematic. We recommend looking beyond the core genre to other topics of interest that will appeal to the target group. For example, we often need to reach entrepreneurs and small business owners. There aren’t enough small business podcasts on their own to scale, but by adding additional genres that might appeal to the target we can create a custom collection.  In this case, we might build a custom collection for the advertising by including shows from secondary groupings that fit the target. Cooking, Fitness, Auto, True Crime, can all be excellent categories that can help reach enough potential customers. Interesting to note, Comedy, Society & Culture, News, Arts, Sports and True Crime are the top genres in Canada. 

Podcasting is a lean-in medium. Listeners choose the content, they are engaged, they are an active participant in the show. They understand the business model to the extent that 46% say that they wouldn’t mind a couple of extra ads so that their favourite podcast can continue. The vast majority of podcasts are organic labours of love and the listeners appreciate that the commercials are meant to support the production and are often hand-selected to appeal to them personally. 

Understanding types of podcast commercials and their placements

There are various types of podcast commercial insertion:

Dynamically Inserted: Known as DAI, these ads are inserted at the time of download. They can be host-read ads or provided by the advertiser where they are inserted into a show at pre-programmed breaks at the beginning, middle or end of a podcast. This works well if you are running time-sensitive or seasonal ads. DAI ads can be geo-targeted and delivered only to the appropriate market. Not all listeners of the podcast will hear the same message as they are inserted by an ad server, based on the targeted audience segment, rather than topic or genre.   

Baked In: These ads are recorded and inserted as part of the podcast and are most often read by the host of the podcast. In this case the ad is part of the show and everyone who downloads the episode of the podcast hears the same ad. If a user downloads a three-year-old show, the ads that were baked in three years ago will still be there. They are permanent fixtures of that particular episode.

Host reads or pre-produced 

Podcast listeners are passionate about their shows and the hosts. Host read ads have the added advantage of sounding like a natural endorsement instead of a paid one. In fact, 33 percent of the listeners surveyed by Edison said that they paid more attention to host read ads than others in a podcast. Hosts know their audiences – that’s their business. However, as discussed, it can be difficult to scale with individual shows, and hosts usually want to see a reasonable investment before they will record a commercial or endorse a product. If host reads are right for your campaign, consider giving the host latitude to craft the message from your talking points to maximize listener engagement. Listeners say that they like when hosts have fun with the ads.

Tips for entering the podcast advertising market:

Naturally, you want maximize your investment in podcast advertising. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Find the right podcasts for your message – make sure their audience matches your target.
  • Build the perfect script for your ads or intelligent talking points and remember to include unique CTAs.
  • Run a test campaign for 8 to 12 weeks across these shows.
  • Measure ROI using unique URLs, promo codes or consider a third-party measurement like podsights or chartable. 

Most importantly – 

  • Don’t re-purpose your radio commercial!  At least not without giving it some serious consideration. A common rookie mistake is re-using an existing radio spot that doesn’t translate well to podcasts. Remember that, while your radio commercial must stand out above the clutter where it is often stuck in the middle of a cluster of 6 or more commercials, podcasts address one listener at a time. Listeners are deeply engaged, and an abrupt change of tone can be jarring. There is no need for yelling, screaming and high-priced jingles. Single-voice, straight read messages in a conversational tone are most appreciated and effective with the podcast listener. 

Western Media Group offers Canada’s widest selection of podcast advertising solutions. Whether you’re a media buying agency, direct brand, or brand partner, we’ve got your podcast advertising needs covered. Get in touch with us today!