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Is Podcast Advertising a Good Fit for Your Brand?

Posted 9 September 2016 10:30 AM by Nathalie Espinol @MoxieUSA

Once considered a niche medium, podcasts have hit the mainstream. Popular shows like Serial and This American Life are captivating audiences nationwide and ushering in a new golden age for audio — especially among millennials. This influx of high-quality content coupled with better technology for streaming has generated undeniable momentum for podcasts. In fact, Edison Research and Triton Digital report that 2016 is the medium’s most successful year to date. As podcasts continue to grab the attention of more and more listeners, they’re winning an audience with big brands, too. Podcast ad spending is set to reach $35.1 million by the end of this year, according to Zenith. Best of all, audiences don’t seem to mind the interruption: a recent comScore study revealed that consumers consider podcast ads the least intrusive type of digital ads. This is all great news, of course, but are podcasts a solid fit for your brand? Here are 4 points to consider before jumping on the podcast wave: 

1. Is your audience listening?

While podcast audiences have definitely grown, eMarketer reports that overall penetration is at 17% of Americans (about 46 million) and over-indexes among millennials and males. Podcast listeners also tend to be college educated, have a household income of over $100K and describe themselves as early adopters. This is good news if these are your brand’s consumers (or if you want them to be). But if you want to dig deeper and get more data on who’s listening, podcasts aren’t quite there yet: aside from broader demographics, podcast networks are fairly limited in their ability to provide specifics about their targets, especially compared to other digital channels. Regardless, podcasts do present an opportunity to reach a highly engaged audience if you identify hosts or shows that align with your target audience’s interests.

2. Creator collaboration can be a win-win.

Given that podcast ads are typically a host-read ad, the power of the brand mention is in the implicit endorsement from a trusted source. But with that endorsement comes the host’s liberty to make your ad his or her own. Some brands are experimenting with an entirely sponsored podcast, such as the recent partnership between eBay and Gimlet media, who created an entirely new show called Open for Business. This curriculum-style guide about “building a business from the ground up” landed in the No. 1 spot for business podcasts on iTunes and opted for subtle branding, ultimately giving Gimlet creative control over the program. As the medium continues to evolve and mature, brands that are open to collaboration with these creators could reap huge benefits through deeply engaging and relevant co-branded stories.

3. Limited space adds up to high premiums.

Since there’s limited ad space available within each podcast, it’s not surprising that budgets run high, ranging from $50 CPM to upwards of $100 CPM. With such high premiums, the majority of podcast ads are from mid-sized companies who have an e-commerce component, which enables them to use coupon codes to track ROI. Brands who want to venture into podcast advertising need to have a set plan for measurement (see point #4) to ensure that their budgets are spent effectively.  

4. Measuring success can be tricky.

Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles for podcasts right now is their inability to track impact. The majority of current podcast ads have a direct response CTA that includes a promo code to track return; otherwise, advertisers are limited to unique downloads as a primary KPI — a metric that doesn’t ensure audiences listened to the ad. Podcast networks are working on developing more standardized metrics for advertisers, but until the practice matures, brands need to ensure stakeholder alignment on how they will measure success for these campaigns.

Have you worked on a podcast campaign or are you interested in experimenting with the medium? Please share your thoughts below. 

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