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How to hack podcast advertising | Tips marketers should know

4 February, 2020 · 7 min read·Traffic generation
How to hack podcast advertising | Tips marketers should know
Interested in adding podcast advertising to your marketing campaign? We've collected everything you need to know about advertising over podcasts.

Are you interested in adding podcast advertising to your marketing campaign? Or maybe you're a podcaster trying to secure advertisers on your show? In this article, we've collected everything you need to know about advertising over podcasts.

What is podcast advertising?

Let's start by defining podcasts. If you've never listened to a podcast, it's essentially a radio talk show that takes place over the internet. The name comes from the iPod, which popularized the format in the early 2000s.

That's right, folks. The iPod is almost twenty years old. But let's stay on track.

Podcasts are typically based around a topic (self-help, the news, sports, education, serialized stories, interviews, etc.) and have anywhere from one to five hosts. Podcasts vary wildly in length, content, style, tone, and frequency.

Podcast advertising is, in function, very similar to advertising on a radio talk show. The host typically takes a break in the middle of the podcast, reads a pre-written script provided by an advertiser, and then goes back to the rest of the show.

Why podcast advertising is so effective

That type of advertising may sound simple, but it's surprisingly effective, making it one of the most popular forms of advertising today. Marketers may switch up their marketing campaigns every few quarters, but rarely pull their podcasting ads off the air.

And that's because people listen.

Here are two key reasons why podcasting is such a great venue for advertisers.

Podcasting has a fast-growing audience

In 2018, the number of podcast shows on iTunes was reported to be 550,000. In January of 2020, this number had grown to 850,000 distinct podcasting shows. There's a reason for the massive increase in podcasts, and it's due to a fast-growing audience.

A study by Nielsen reported that 50% of U.S. homes are avid podcast listeners, with 22% of Americans listening to podcasts every week. These numbers are increasing year-over-year, making it a valuable market for podcasters and advertisers alike.

Podcasts are seemingly on track to gain a YouTube-like status: a platform filled with talented creators and passionate audiences.

Podcast audiences are dedicated

Speaking of passionate audiences, the listeners behind these podcasts frequently engage with the advertised content for several reasons, primarily because advertisements are coming from the voice of someone they trust. You don't have to win over podcast listeners, as the person reading your ads has already done this.

The informational and educated tone of most podcasts makes advertising seem much more legitimate and personal than it does in most other formats. It lends your brand the same credibility as the person promoting it.

Podcast audiences tend to be passionate about podcast hosts as well and understand that advertising is what makes the podcast possible.

This means they're much more likely to engage with a product than they would on a platform like YouTube or a billboard, where the advertising and the content are perceived as separate.

How podcast advertising works

There are a few different ways that most podcast advertisements are structured. The most common is the one we mentioned already, and that's having the host(s) read a script prepared by the advertiser. Most hosts follow the script loosely, adding in their personality and opinions to the advertisement.

Another common way to advertise on a podcast is through a pre-prepared ad. These are advertisements that you create yourself, like the ones you typically hear on the radio, and then send to your podcasters. They then play them at specified times during the podcast for the audience.

The third shape that podcast ads typically take is "Sponsored by" ads. These are ads at the beginning or end of the podcast that simply say, "This podcast was sponsored by Brand; be sure to check out Brand's website and thank them for making this podcast possible."

How long should a podcast advertisement be?

The general rule of podcast advertising is that shorter is better. Unless you have a fascinating, groundbreaking product, longer ads are just going to be skipped by the audience so that they can get back to what they were listening to.

Standard podcast advertisement lengths are 15-seconds, 30-seconds, and 60-seconds. As you would expect, the longer the advertisement, the more it's going to cost.

It is possible to have an advertisement go on longer than that, especially if the show hosts are fans of your brand. Some podcasts have a video feed that goes along with the audio, allowing them to demonstrate the product, the packaging, etc., which can cause the ad to go on for longer than 60-seconds.

Podcast advertising pricing

Podcast advertising rates will vary depending on the size of a podcaster's audience, the length of the ad, and where the ad is placed within the podcast. On average, podcast advertising rates will fall between 25/CPM for a 60-second commercial.

Here are the three ways that podcast advertising is typically negotiated.


CPM is short for Cost Per Mille, an advertising term that denotes how much is paid for every 1,000 impressions/views. In other words, if an ad costs 180 for that ad.


Cost Per Acquisition, or CPA, is a pricing system based on conversions. This is usually used when a company is giving podcasters a promo code or affiliate link. The advertiser pays an agreed-upon amount for every person that uses that code or link to make a purchase.

Freely negotiated

As you might suspect, freely negotiated pricing refers to any pricing where the podcaster and advertiser agree to a specific price. Like a standard negotiation, one party suggests a price, the other either accepts it or provides a counteroffer, and this repeats until a price is settled on.

Podcast advertising terminology

Pre-roll: A pre-roll advertisement is one that plays before the podcast begins, typically following the "This podcast episode is sponsored by Brand," format. These ads are generally 15 seconds long.

Mid-roll: Mid-roll ads are ads played anywhere between the start and finish of a podcast, generally near the halfway mark. They can range anywhere from 30 seconds to 60 seconds long.

Outro: Outros are similar to pre-rolls in that they are short statements read at the bookends of a podcast, though outros appear at the end of a podcast rather than the beginning. Outros are generally used for a short call to action.

Offer code: An offer code is a promo code given to a podcaster by an advertiser. The podcaster promotes the code to their audience and is generally paid via CPA.

Affiliate link: Affiliate links, also known as vanity links, are unique links given to a podcaster by the advertiser. These links take users to a product page or website and often provide a discount. Affiliate links are typically paid via CPA.

5 Podcast advertising platforms

1. iTunes

Whether you're familiar with podcasting or not, you no doubt are familiar with iTunes. Many credit it for the rise of podcasting, as it was the popularity of iTunes that made podcasts so accessible.

Just like trying to publish anything through one of Apple's platforms, getting approval to share your content on iTunes is going to take some patience. Apple has strict guidelines for what is and isn't allowed on their podcast app. So long as you aren't breaking any of these rules, your podcast should be approved within a few weeks of applying.

For marketers, iTunes is a great way to discover potential podcasts to advertise through. Searching through the app and listening to different shows is easy and free, and because of the wide selection, you're sure to find a podcast that jives with your brand.

2. Midroll

Midroll is strictly a podcast advertising platform. It connects advertisers to podcasts that will best fit their brand and budget. They have a pool of more than 300+ podcasts for advertisers to choose from, making them a valuable tool for brands that want to advertise via podcasts but don't know where to start.

Although 300 podcasts is a lot, it doesn't come close to the 850,000 podcasts on the air today. That's because only podcasts that apply to be shown on Midroll are shown, and not just any podcaster can be approved for the platform.

They have to demonstrate an ability to effectively integrate ads into their show before being partnered to the platform. That said, if you are a marketer looking for the right podcast to advertise on, or a podcast that's looking to land more advertisers, Midroll is a great agency to work through.

3. Podnova

Podnova is what's known as a podcatcher, which is a piece of software that collects and downloads your favorite podcasts from across the internet and puts them on one platform.

These are great for people who listen to podcasts that are exclusive to specific podcasting services, allowing them to listen to all of these different podcasts in one place.

For advertisers, this serves as a powerful way to find podcasts that match your brand. You can search for podcasts by category on the website and have confidence that you aren't being limited by what one podcast app has to offer.

The only downside to using Podnova is that it's a little dated, which gives it a slight learning curve for the uninitiated. But if you're familiar with RSS feeds and want to search through different podcasts on your own, Podnova is a reliable solution.

4. AdvertiseCast Another excellent podcast advertising platform is AdvertiseCast. It works much the same way that Midroll does. Podcasters apply to be represented on AdvertiseCast, and advertisers apply to be matched with podcasters.

The advantage that AdvertiseCast has over Midroll is its library size. It has over 1,500 podcasts available, totaling over 30 million monthly listeners. The drawback, however, is that these podcasts aren't nearly as high-profile as the ones available on Midroll.

For some, this may be a good thing, as it means the pricing on AdvertiseCast is going to be a bit lower. There are still popular podcasts on AdvertiseCast to be sure, just none that reach the levels of popularity as the ones available on Midroll.

5. PodBean PodBean is a podcast distribution platform. Users can upload their podcasts and share them directly on PodBean, as well as send it off to different podcasting platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

The service also has built-in advertising, making it a simple method for podcasters and advertisers to pair up. Advertisers simply provide ads to PodBean, who then play these ads on podcasts that choose to monetize their content. It's a simple way for creators and brands to both benefits.

Podcast advertising is key in 2020

Though podcasts are often overshadowed by social media and content creation sites like YouTube, they've quickly become one of the most important venues for modern advertisers. For more tips on building your brand and promoting your website, check out the rest of our blog here at B12.

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