Podcast ads

I’m listening to Pod Save America, an entertaining American Democratic podcast run by ex-Obama staffers. They’re discussing the 2020 Democratic candidates, which, I confess, I’m not really following the discussion closely. I don’t particularly care which candidate ends up the final nominee. The field’s immensely crowded right now and as such, less interesting. It’s sort of like Masterchef Australia before the inexorable march of time and TV ratings whittle the army of contestants down to a desperate and suspiciously photogenic few. The hosts’ discussion peter to a halt. A jingle plays. I brace myself. Ah, hell. It’s another Blue Apron ad.

(start rant)
By all that’s good and holy, unless you need a very tailored diet for a health reason or unless you live incredibly far away from a grocery store or have accessibility problems, why do you need a meal kit? The menu’s limited, Blue Apron is expensive, the ingredient quality is poor, and in an increasingly waste-choked world, it lands you with scads of plastic packaging for each meal. Why. Just why. The company hasn’t made any profit since its 2017 offering either. If you’re the 4% of Americans who love shit like this, you probably need to read the Uninhabitable Earth.
(/end rant)

To be fair to the hosts of Pod Save America and my personal biases, the ads they read out aren’t actually too bad, if only because they hardly ever follow the script given to them from advertisers. There’s usually a joke or two riffed off the political issue of the day. It makes the ad bearable, and I’ve actually checked out websites that they’ve discussed before. Pod Save America tends to be the exception to the rule, though. For many other podcasts, the fact that the hosts aren’t professional voice talent shows. There’s a reason why agencies carefully select voice actors for ads, radio or film.

To Skip or Not to Skip… Podcast ads

When an ad pops up on a podcast, I usually skip ahead. A recent study by WARC found that I’m in the minority, though:

  • 78 percent of listeners don’t mind branded sponsorships because they understand it supports the content.
  • Podcasts reach 62 million Americans (22 percent) weekly.
  • 41.7 percent of podcast ads are inserted dynamically, at the point of downloaded (instead of being pre-recorded).
  • 53 percent of listeners turn to YouTube to tune in.

A study from Hub Entertainment Research, in contrast, found that:

  • More than 8 in 10 (83%) DVR users skip ads “most of the time.” That includes 60% who say they skip every ad.
  • Two-thirds (68%) of DVR users say they will at least “sometimes” pause their DVR at the beginning of a live broadcast, so they can fast-forward through ads. One-quarter (26%) say they do this “every time.”
  • The majority (52% to 56%) skip ads “most” or “every time” on VOD and online platforms, when fast forward is available.

If people are more tolerant of podcast ads, podcasts might be a more effective way of getting your brand message out to a target audience. You could even reach audiences that are likely to be interested in your product: for example, if you sell sports equipment, you could make an ad for a local sports podcast. If the hosts are funny, let them riff off the script. The audience will be more likely to remember it.

Quick Tips on Writing a Good Podcast ad

  1. Use an agency… Hahaha. It’s true though. Get a professional to handle it.
  2. Get to the point. Try to deliver a punchy elevator pitch before the podcast listener can get bored and attempt to skip ahead.
  3. Don’t oversell. It’s really easy to lose trust.
  4. Have a landing page ready with an easy URL to remember. The podcast host is going to have to read your URL out on air. If it’s too long, it’s too hard to bother.
  5. Have a discount code available for listeners of the podcast. That will drive them quickly to your product if they’re interested.
  6. Spread out your ads if possible. Someone binging political podcasts doesn’t want to listen to your same ad repeated a million times. We’re looking at you, Zip Recruiter.

Want to learn more? Get in touch. And for the love of God, stop buying so much plastic packaging.

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