April 8, 2021

5 Reasons This Podcast Sponsorship Campaign Lost

Review Episode: This brand came to me to help them with their campaign formula because it wasn't working. I break down the podcast sponsorship campaign they had run, share what they did well and what they should change to turn their next podcast...

Review Episode: This brand came to me to help them with their campaign formula because it wasn't working. I break down the podcast sponsorship campaign they had run, share what they did well and what they should change to turn their next podcast sponsorship campaign into a total rockstar success. 

Topics I cover:

  • The pros and cons of the podcasts they selected.
  • The benefit of the number of podcasts they chose. 
  • Their target audience - which they should have targeted instead.
  • The delivery type and frequency of the ad placements.
  • Why the ad reads had the biggest impact on their advertising campaign.



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This transcript has not been edited.


[00:00:29]Heather Osgood: [00:00:29] Hello, and welcome to the Podcast Advertising Playbook. I'm your host, Heather Osgood. And today on the show, I am going to be analyzing some campaigns for you. Podcast advertising campaigns can be tricky, and we know that podcast advertising produces results, but as a brand new advertiser to this space or someone who maybe isn't experienced in podcast advertising, it can be really tricky to try and create a campaign to really get those responses that you're [00:01:00] looking for. 

[00:01:00] Now, of course, if you're looking for branding, that is a much easier approach for you than a direct response campaign, but we still see in the podcast ad space that the vast majority of campaigns are direct response. And if you, as an advertiser or as maybe someone in marketing, who would like to create a campaign and have it be a direct response campaign and have it really bring in that success for your company. It's important to understand the ins and outs of the industry and how to approach things. 

[00:01:31] I had a conversation recently with a company and it was so astounding to me, really just looking at, uh, what they had created and what they had tried. And I wanted to kind of unpack that for you and give you kind of my input on what I think that they did well and what I think that they could improve on. 

[00:01:51] So now this company is a company within the health and fitness space, very common in podcast advertising. We see that health and fitness [00:02:00] companies especially those direct response companies are performing quite well.

[00:02:04] So we've got a number of those in the industry right now. So this company was a health and fitness company. Their company that has been around for, I think it was about a year, so relatively new organization, and they really had decided that podcast advertising was going to be a good fit for them. They had personally experienced buying products from ads that they had heard on podcasts. Podcasts listeners, themselves and so they decided to go ahead and go down the route of podcast advertising. 

[00:02:36] So let me tell you just a little bit about their target demographic, which I think is important. They have a product that is a fairly gender neutral. So, that doesn't always happen. Often, we'll see a product, maybe leans more toward one gender than another, but this product really is one that seems to speak to any of the genders out there.

[00:02:57] So, um, We've [00:03:00] found that 40% of the people who purchased the product were female and 60% were male. So that was kind of the breakdown that they were looking at and going into a campaign, they realized that they couldn't just purchase one podcast. They knew that they had to buy multiple you know, programs, which I think is really important.

[00:03:19] They want it to really rely heavily on that host read endorsement ad. So they didn't want to go down the programmatic ad route. They felt that really having that host talk about their product experience, their product was going to really help kind of with that word of mouth advertising. And so they were very interested in that, you know, from that perspective, which I think was, was terrific.

[00:03:42] And in, in terms of the shows that they selected, they decided to go with shows that were pre predominantly male based. So the audiences of the shows that they were advertising on were mostly male. Now, of course, given the fact that 40% of their [00:04:00] purchasers were female and 60% were male. I think obviously that made sense to go in that direction, you know, at least from, from the outset, right. They were like, Hey, let's go with that. 

[00:04:10] The, the downloads on the shows that they decided to purchase for somewhere between 75K and 130K downloads per episode, within a 30 day period. So I would say definitely shows that are on the high end of middle to larger shows. They were not going with super small shows, they were looking for larger shows.

[00:04:31] And they purchased four ads per, per a podcast. And they decided to go down the embedded ad route. So they were picking five shows, they're going to run four ads embedded ad reads on each of these podcasts. And again, reaching between 75K and let's say a 100K+ downloads per episode.

[00:04:52] So in looking at that, we know that they spent probably in the range of about $60,000 on their [00:05:00] campaign based on just industry standards. And what they saw wasn't a lot. They have not seen a huge return on their investment. And of course that is discouraging to them because when they're looking for direct response, they want to see that they are getting a return on their investment and not seeing that has been certainly discouraging for them.

[00:05:23] So let's unpack exactly what it is that they created. And let's talk about how we could approach a campaign like this slightly differently. 

[00:05:33] So now a couple of the other things that I wanted to bring up is that they chose podcasts based on, um, some relationships that they already had. So they already knew some of the hosts from the podcast that they chose.

[00:05:46] So in some ways they were kind of advertising with some of their friends, you know, nothing wrong with that. But you know, certainly some things to consider. So, as we unpack what they chose to do. I [00:06:00] want to say what I think that they did correct first. 

[00:06:03] So first of all, I think that it is great that they chose to advertise on five different podcasts.

[00:06:10] We often give that number as a baseline for how many podcasts you should be advertising on. And the reason that you should choose at least five podcasts is because you have the ability to compare and contrast which shows worked well and which shows did not work well. 

[00:06:27] Now, when we look at the results, one of the things to consider is that one podcast that they ran on, they did feel like they recouped their investment from that show.

[00:06:37] Now, did they get a lot of extra results from that show? No, they didn't get extra results. They just covered their investment. And in my opinion, when you are looking at starting a campaign out, if you're essentially a relatively unknown product, right? People don't know who you are. You haven't been on this podcast [00:07:00] before, and you're just running four ads.

[00:07:02] I think just getting a return on what you have invested in that podcast is definitely a win in my book because you have to take time to get to know an audience. And if you are getting that, you know, return on your investment, you are obviously ahead, because now we know that you've had all of this branding that has happened.

[00:07:26] People now know more about your company than they had known before. And so if you break even on that investment, I would classify that as a win. Especially, given the other circumstances that surrounded this campaign, because this is a company that is really not well known and is fairly new in the industry, it takes time to get people to purchase your product. 

[00:07:52] And if somebody has never heard of your product before most of the time, they're not just going to hear one ad and then decide to go [00:08:00] purchase your product. I think the other thing that is really important to consider with a product or with a brand is what type of product you're selling.

[00:08:08] So there are certain industries where there is already a built-in need. For instance, I would like to get a lock for my bike. So I, I like to ride my bike and I want to be able to ride my bike and then lock it up somewhere. So I have a need for a bike lock. So, because I have this need for this bike lock.

[00:08:31] I'm going and I'm going to go look for companies that make bike locks. If I heard an ad today for a bike lock, I would be very interested in listening to that ad because I've already got this built in need for this product. If you're creating a product that isn't already something that people buy on a regular basis, right? If, if you make protein powder and you are advertising to people who already use protein [00:09:00] powder, that's a pretty easy sell because they're already using protein powder. And if you can show them why your protein powder is going to be so much better. They're going to have a greater chance of purchasing that product. But if you're trying to advertise protein powder to someone who has never used it, that doesn't see a need, maybe doesn't even know protein powder exists.

[00:09:23] It's going to be a much more difficult sell for them. And when you, as a company have a product that people maybe haven't necessarily heard of it's going to take more time and more awareness building. Uh, we were working with a company a few years back that had, um, uh, that it was a device that you wore and the purpose of the device was to vibrate when you were doing a habit that you wanted to break.

[00:09:51] And so if you were maybe a nail biter or a hair picker, or you just had this little tick about you, where you were, kind of, [00:10:00] repetitively repetitively, and really, uh, subconsciously almost doing these things. This device would vibrate to help interrupt a habit and break that habit for you right now. That is an amazing device and the people who use it, their lives are greatly changed by that. But my guess is most people aren't going to wake up in the morning and say, You know what I need to go by today. I need to get a little vibrating device that I wear on my wrist that's going to help me break a habit, right? Like, it's not an inherent need that somebody has, it's not a product that they're already accustomed to purchasing.

[00:10:38] So you have to go about marketing, something like that in a very different way than if you're selling a product that people are already buying a lot. If I'm already buying skincare and you were trying to convince me to buy your skincare. That is a very different sell than if I am trying to sell you something you have [00:11:00] never bought before and maybe didn't even know existed.

[00:11:03] So for this company, my assessment is that most people would not wake up saying, I am looking to buy that product today. Which means that they're going to me to do a much higher level of frequency and really just branding and awareness creation of the product. Now, of course, are they solving a need? Yes, they are solving a need that everyone has and their product might be an absolute godsend for someone who is trying to solve this issue. But I'm going to have to create a level of frequency. 

[00:11:41] So buying five podcasts, thumbs up, nice job buying four ads per podcast might be on the low side for them. 

[00:11:50] Now, what I would say is we have run on these five shows. We've run four ads on these shows and they essentially are saying four of the five, [00:12:00] no good. Those we're going to put on the do not run on again list. But, the fourth or the fifth one that actually did break, even for them, my recommendation would be to continue to run ads with that podcast because you know, you already have a market that is interested in your product. So why not continue to advertise on that show? 

[00:12:20] Now they might not run another series of four ads. They might say, Hey, we're going to take the next three months. And we're going to run one to two ads per month for the next three months. And see if that is going to again, produce results for them. Maybe increased results for them.

[00:12:37] So, because this wasn't a test where they said, man, that show performed so well, it was a landslide success. If it was a landslide success, Hey, they should book a year's worth of advertising on that podcast. Because it wasn't a landslide, what they need to do next is they need to test further into that show to see if they can get a return on their investment.

[00:12:59] So [00:13:00] again, great success in picking the quantity of shows. My encouragement would be to run more ads on the podcasts that are working. 

[00:13:08] Next let's talk about the size of the podcast that they chose to advertise with. I would like to commend them for choosing podcasts that have a large enough audience to move the needle.

[00:13:20] That is an important piece. If you're advertising on a podcast that is so small, that if all of their listeners responded, you still wouldn't see a positive return. Right? That is not going to be a good partnership for you. So there is going to be a certain size level of podcasts that you're going to want to advertise on in order to see results.

[00:13:43] However I do think they may have picked shows that could have been a bit on the large side. Now, depending on your average dollar sale, you might approach this differently. Now this company, their average dollar sale was about a [00:14:00] $100. So if they're spending $60,000 and they are expecting to see a positive return, not just a return on their investment, but actually bringing in additional sales, they are going to have to sell a lot of product to recoup that investment.

[00:14:17] My recommendation would be to choose podcasts that were perhaps a bit smaller than the ones that they had chose. And the reason that I would recommend this is because they are so new to the medium. If you want to invest in podcast advertising and you start on a smaller scale with smaller shows, you can learn just as easily without having to invest at such a great level. Now, I would recommend that you advertise on shows that are getting at least 10,000 downloads per episode, or reaching, I would say, at least 20,000 downloads per month, if you're going to be doing dynamic ad insertion. [00:15:00] Because you need a large enough group of people to actually move the needle for you.

[00:15:04]Now, the other thing to consider is that they ran embedded ad reads. They did not run dynamically inserted ad reads one of the values of dynamic ad insertion is a frequency. You can create a much greater frequency with dynamic ad insertion because the same person is going to be delivered your ad message multiple times throughout a month.

[00:15:25] Now that frequency is such an important piece. Of course you do have the reach component. And if you're not reaching enough people, you're not going to see conversions. But the value of dynamic insertion is a frequency that can be created with it that you do not get with embedded ad reads. If I just ran four ads on a podcast, what are the chances that I am reaching that same person four times?

[00:15:50] Almost a zero, right? This is almost zero that you're going to reach the same person four times, just because you ran four ad messages doesn't [00:16:00] mean that I, the listener listened to those four episodes that you happen to advertise on. Right? And if you are a relatively new product, if you are a product that maybe isn't an inherent need, you're going to have to have a higher frequency. So I think that that's so important to consider. So let's look at that. 

[00:16:19] Let's look at the size of the podcast and let's look at that reach and frequency that we're getting and make sure that you're dialing that in to be appropriate. So what kind of frequency do you need? Are you going to get that frequency with embedded ad reads or are you going to get the frequency with dynamic insertion. Also the size, again. Are you reaching enough people, but not so many people in a test that, you know, you, you feel like, Hey, you could have made a bonfire with $60,000, lit it up and it would have been a better investment. So let's, let's look at that. I think that's really good, important. 

[00:16:52]Um, next let's talk about, about their call to action. Now they were providing a 20% off call to [00:17:00] action. And I would say in my estimation, that is a fair call to action. It is difficult to create calls to action and really determine what is going to be best. If you are a company who has done quite a bit of influencer marketing, my suggestion would be to look at what offers have you put out there in the past that have succeeded well? 

[00:17:25] I do think that if you're doing influencer marketing and you're thinking about doing host, read ads in a podcast, those two intersect very well. And the reason that they intersect well is because you can test things out on influencer marketing and then bring the learning that you have in influencer marketing and try it out on podcast advertising.

[00:17:47] Now, depending on the size of the influencer that you're advertising with, there is potential that maybe you can even test out into the influencer space at a lower cost than maybe you might be [00:18:00] spending in podcasting. So with influencer marketing, you can determine who is getting the best results for you.

[00:18:06] What kind of influencers tend to get results for you? What calls to action are you getting the results from as well? So if you're getting great response on specific calls to action and influencer marketing, bring those over into podcast, advertising and experiment with them there. 

[00:18:25] Next, I want to talk about the ad read and how important ad reads can be. They mentioned to me in our conversation that there were a couple of shows that had really missed the mark when it came to understanding their product. Again, this is going to be something that is built in. If you have a product that is relatively new and people maybe don't understand it, you have to make sure that the host understands your product your product inside and out, and you have to provide that host with really solid talking points. They need to know what is [00:19:00] important for them to say in that ad read for you to convey the unique selling proposition of your product, because that host is not going to understand that they're not going to know what to say.

[00:19:11] The other thing is make sure, and I cannot emphasize this enough, make sure that that host has tried your product. And not only tried your product, but actually really likes the product. So I would say, especially if you are getting something started for the first time, send the product to the host, but then follow up with the host and say, how did you like that product?

[00:19:35] Did you feel like it helped you? Did you feel like you benefited from the product and how did you benefit from the product? Get really clear with that host and make sure that they liked the product and that they understand the product, because then when they're creating those ad reads, they are, are going to be so much more authentic, which is so important, right. We need that [00:20:00] authenticity when it comes to host read ads. So making sure that your ad reads are spot on is really important. 

[00:20:08] Now it's possible that because they recruited friends. To advertise on those podcasts that maybe the friend was like, I got it. How often does that happen with somebody that, you know, as opposed to somebody that you don't.

[00:20:22]So maybe if this is a person you've been talking to about your product, for the last two years, because you've been inventing it and you've brought it to market. And they've been along that journey with you, maybe they're assuming they understand your product much better than they do. And so they're not actually doing the work.

[00:20:40] So just be really cautious because ad reads can make a huge difference. Now all in all this company has decided that they still think podcast advertising is going to be a good fit for them. And they're going to go down the route of testing, more podcast advertising to see what kinds of results that they [00:21:00] can get.

[00:21:00] Now, I do think that one of the other mistakes that was made was they focused too heavily on male podcast. They said that their web traffic was primarily female, but more of their consumers came from the male gender. So they found that men bought the product more, even though women came to the site more.

[00:21:24] Now my recommendation would be that if you were looking at a product like this, where there isn't a landslide, this is who buys the product. Having some diversification in reach is also super important because maybe the product is resonating more with women and that's why they're coming to the site.

[00:21:44] But there are issues with converting those women once they get to the site. So think about that as you're planning your podcast ad buys and think about, are you reaching the right group of people? Because ultimately, we all know that advertising [00:22:00] and marketing in general is only successful if you are reaching people who are actually interested in purchasing your product or service. If you're reaching somebody who would never buy your product or service, it's really a total waste of money.

[00:22:13]So we really have to dive in and so as you're experimenting with podcast advertising. If you are a product that does tend to reach, you know, 50/50, when it comes to genders, you probably are going to need to go ahead and experiment into several podcasts in different spaces to see where you get traction.

[00:22:33] So I think that in, in wrapping up this particular campaign and, and diving into the successes and the failures, the successes were again, running on multiple shows. Running, um, on shows with a good size, um, running a good call to action. I would say some of the improvements could be is the size too big, right?

[00:22:56] So we knew we reached enough people, but could we reach more? Is the [00:23:00] frequency there? Are they getting in front of people often enough? And how is that ad read, which is crucial. 

[00:23:07] That brings me to another point that I wanted to bring up on today's episode. Contrasting this campaign with another, that we have run.

[00:23:16] I wanted to talk to you about some wins that we experienced with a cosmetic company. Now, this cosmetic company was a startup organization and they ran ads on to podcast. Now that wasn't my preference. Obviously I would have preferred that they had chosen five, but they chose two podcasts to advertise on and they ran three month long campaigns on these two different podcasts.

[00:23:41] Now when all of the dust settled and they stood back and they looked at what had been successful in what had not. They found that one of those podcasts had a much greater return for them and really was quite successful for them than the other was. And in talking with them and digging into where the success [00:24:00] was, we found that the real success had come with the ad read.

[00:24:04] There were two hosts on this particular podcast and both hosts loved the product. Now they already were very customed to talking about cosmetics on their show and in their daily lives. Right. And one of the things that they did that was really cool is that they did some additional social posts, where they experimented with the product they showed their audience, how wonderful the product was.

[00:24:29] And then they were able to segue that into these podcast ad reads that they did. And ultimately it created a very, you know, very good success for this company. And the reason is the hosts actually really loved the product. They loved the product, they let the product essentially, you know, travel out into their social media.

[00:24:51] They let the product. Um, you know, they, their samples, their experiences with that product come out in a very authentic [00:25:00] way in their ad reads. And that made all of the difference. It made the difference between a successful show and a show that wasn't. And what they had said this advertiser was the show that wasn't successful, they felt like it was very much just an ad read. I am a host, I am showing up today to do an ad read that I was scheduled to do. You should go buy this product that is very different from, Oh my gosh you guys, let me tell you about this really cool thing that I found that is kind of making my life way better today and let's talk about it. Let's talk about how I experienced this product. 

[00:25:36]That authenticity is the very definition of influencer marketing and the value of host read advertising. So I just want you as an advertiser to know that you cannot predict which hosts are going to resonate with your product.

[00:25:51] You have to choose wisely. You have to look at these shows, maybe look at past advertisers that they've had. Look at the content of that [00:26:00] podcast and say, is this product that I'm selling a product that I think will resonate with this show and this host? Now I realize that all of that feels like a lot of work, but the reality is is that the returns on your investment could be significant. 

[00:26:17]And the other thing that you're looking at is you're looking for an ambassador for your product. I remember I was talking with a company once and they were like, Tim Ferris sells out, uh, you know, our product on a regular basis. Now how many Tim Ferriss are there out there? There's one, right? How many Joe rogan's there's one, right? So it's not like you can go out and say, Hey, I'm going to find that superstar person that is going to sell out my product. I mean, you could certainly, if you have the budget to do that. Most companies are not going to have the budget for that.

[00:26:50] But what would it look like if instead of finding one Tim Ferris, you found 20 Tim Ferriss sets, right? Or, you know, like hosts [00:27:00] that maybe weren't quite to Tim Ferris's caliber, but were really close. That could be amazing ambassadors for your product. So this hunt isn't just about creating success in this one little piece. It's about identifying hosts can talk about your product for a long time and get good returns on your investment for many months and potentially many years for you. 

[00:27:25]So make sure that you're diving into those hosts and their shows and that you feel that there's a real fit there. Now, if you feel like all of this just seems daunting and like it's way too much work, of course, that's where companies like true native media come into play because we can help you with that screening process. So you're not feeling like you're going to have to do all the leg work on your own. You can come to a representation firm. And they can help you through that process. There are also agencies out there that if you've got a hundred thousand dollars plus to run [00:28:00] campaigns with them, they have very proven systems to help you, you know, to make podcast advertising work.

[00:28:06] But it's important to understand that as we're approaching podcast advertising, we have to lean on this influencer perspective because that's where the power is going to come from. 

[00:28:18] And also your goals for that campaign. If you are like, Hey, I just like running those social media ads. They're quick, I know I'm going to get like a bit of a return on my investment. I can do some testing here and there. I can see what's going to work. I just want to do more of the spray and pray approach. That definitely is an option for you and with programmatic ad buying, you could maybe go down that route if you wanted to, even with podcasts.

[00:28:44] But, if you're looking for a true ambassador for your product, if you're looking for a host that can be in your court for again, months and years to come look for those hosts read ads, because they are going to have so much power and so much potential for [00:29:00] you.

[00:29:00] The other comment that I wanted to say in closing is that you do have to determine what the goal of your campaign is. Now, with this company that we've reviewed today, their goal was to understand how podcast advertising could work or potentially not work for them. And that's why they're back having conversations and looking at starting a new campaign, because they know that there is potential in podcast advertising.

[00:29:29] And one of the things that I find really perplexing is that when we talk about social media advertising, no one ever says. Does social media advertising work? Everyone knows social media advertising works. 

[00:29:43] But it doesn't work for everybody. And why is that? It doesn't work because maybe they don't have the right headline. Maybe they don't have the right image. Maybe they don't have the right call to action. Maybe they aren't reaching the right people with their message. So. When we're approaching social media, we're going to tweak [00:30:00] those things, right? We're also so familiar with how do we split test? How do we come up with the best results?

[00:30:06] And we do this all the time with digital marketing, but for some reason, I find when people come into the podcast ad space, they're like, Hey, I'm going to run a few ads and see if it works. And if it works, then we'll know we should invest more. And if it doesn't work, that must mean the industry doesn't work, podcast ads don't work.

[00:30:22] And I think that it's pretty silly to be honest, because you're never going to come out the gate and create a perfect campaign. It is going to take testing. It is going to take finding the right hosts, finding the right message, finding who you resonate with. Creating that good call to action. Make sure you're reaching the right target market.

[00:30:42]All of these things are so important and they all come into play. When we're talking about creating success in advertising.

[00:30:49] I hope that this has been really useful information for you. I know it's been a lot of fun for me to talk through it. And as you could tell it, probably something I could talk about all day.

[00:30:59] So if you're [00:31:00] somebody who's just really thinking about getting into podcast, advertising my. My call to you, my request to you would be dive into podcast advertising. There is so much that it can offer to you. And really the most important is long-term sustained marketing results and advertising results.

[00:31:23] So I hope you have liked that. If you're interested in connecting with us further, please come over to our website at truenativemedia.com. If you're a company who's interested in advertising, we would love to speak with you. So I hope that you have a great day, the rest of your day. And then we'll talk to you again soon.

[00:31:39] Take care.