March 11, 2021

Answering Advertisers Questions About Podcast Advertising

Answering Advertisers Questions About Podcast Advertising

I talk with tons of advertisers each month, and one of the challenges they face is that they cannot find answers to the questions they have about podcast advertising online.  My goal for this podcast has always been to create an educational...

I talk with tons of advertisers each month, and one of the challenges they face is that they cannot find answers to the questions they have about podcast advertising online. 

My goal for this podcast has always been to create an educational resource for anyone interested in podcast advertising. So, in today's episode, I thought I would answer some of these pressing questions. 

  • Can you target specific regions and test different times of the day?
  • What is the difference between a download and an impression in podcasting?
  • Why are dynamic ads priced by the month?
  • How can you align ads with content?
  • Does the length of the podcast play a part in better ad performance?
  • How can an advertiser avoid being in an ad stack?
  • Are there specifics, podcasts, or podcasts genres that perform better for consumer brands than others?

If you find this content helpful, please subscribe!


This transcript has not been edited. 

[00:00:29] Hello, and welcome to the show. I'm Heather Osgood, your host. And today, on the program, I will be answering some questions that we have received from advertisers. Heather Osgood: [00:00:40] As a potential advertiser in the space. I'm sure that you have questions. And I know oftentimes it's hard to know who to ask these questions of.

[00:00:50] If you do have questions, I would love for you to send them to me. LinkedIn is a great place to reach me, and I would be happy to include them in an [00:01:00] upcoming episodes that we'll be doing to answer your questions. So I wanted to go ahead and just run through this list of questions that I have because I think that they will be beneficial for all potential advertisers out there.

[00:01:14] So the first question is, with dynamic downloads, can they target specific regions and test different times of the day?

[00:01:24]With dynamic ad insertion, you have the capability to really increase the flexibility of your campaign. So embedded or baked-in ads are ads that are run in one specific episode. And they're part of that audio file. Whereas with dynamic ad insertion, we have the capability to insert the ad electronically into both the current as well as back catalog episodes.

[00:01:51] Now, with this technology, there is a ton of flexibility that comes, and certainly a couple of those are demographic [00:02:00] targeting as well as geographical targeting. However, my experience has been that doing that targeting may not be the route for most advertisers to go down at this time in podcast kind of development.

[00:02:16] And the reason for that is most of the time, the shows are not going to be large enough for it to make sense for you to do geo-targeting. There are lots of developments that are happening in this space with programmatic advertising with vast tags that are being developed, where you really can get in and target a lot of different things with podcast advertising.

[00:02:38] So a lot of that is happening, and more and more of it is going to be happening. But it depends a lot on the types of shows that you're going to be advertising on. If you were looking to leverage influencer marketing, which I believe those hosts read endorsement ads are, you really aren't going to have the same level of flexibility as if you were trying to do a programmatic ad buy.

[00:03:00] [00:03:00] Now, of course, I always like to remind people that we do dynamic ad insertion and we use host-read ads. So you certainly can leverage dynamic ad insertion with a host-read ad. If you are looking to do that geo-targeting or demographical targeting, my recommendation would be to go to more of a programmatic approach. So, you are going to miss the influencer piece because if you're trying to do geo-targeting on an individual podcasts level, the vast majority of podcasts are going to be too small to do that. So I would not recommend doing that. 

[00:03:36] The other question that I got is there a particular time of day that dynamically insertion inserted ads should appear?

[00:03:44] And I thought that was a fascinating question because, truthfully, I've never been asked that before. When we look back at the history of podcast advertising, one of the things that's cool about podcasts is they're a very organic, independent nature. When we look at a lot of media [00:04:00] out there, it's very regimented, very structured, and podcasts have this very organic feel about them.

[00:04:07] And granted, there are shows out there if you're doing a daily podcast as a podcast publisher, or if you're advertising on a daily podcast, of course, there has to be some consistency and some cadence where we know that this podcast is going to come out every morning at 8:00 AM Eastern standard time, or whatever that is that you've decided.

[00:04:29] So there certainly shows out there that are very regimented, but my experience has been that many shows do not stick to a strict publishing schedule. Meaning that, yeah, they probably published on a Tuesday. Yeah, maybe it's midday, maybe it's at the end of the day. But oftentimes, people aren't like I have to get my show out at this specific time on this specific day of the week; there is, I would say, more organic, [00:05:00] free flow to them. 

[00:05:01] Now, of course, as you creep up the ladder, when you get, get into more of those enterprise-level podcasts, there is going to be a way more structure and regiments that have been put in place to make sure that shows coming out at a certain time of day. And the reason I bring this up is that we have to look at the listening habits of podcasts, listeners if we are considering. Is that time of day an important thing to look at, to have my ads go live at a certain time of day? 

[00:05:31] Now, all of this being said to my knowledge, there isn't the ability to actually publish an ad to play at a certain time of day. It's possible with programmatic. I haven't worked with programmatic personally, so that may be the case.

[00:05:47] But really, I think the overarching question is, let's look at the listening habits of the podcast listener. And while we know that there are listeners again, if they're listening to a [00:06:00] daily show that is going to pick that show up every day at a certain time, people have their listening habits, of course.

[00:06:06] But I also think it's very common for the average podcast listener to accumulate the podcast they want to listen to until there is an event in their life that allows them to listen this. Those events could be a commute. That event could be an exercise, time, or a house cleaning, or that could be any number of different things.

[00:06:28] But it is very common for people to listen to podcasts while they're doing other things. And that means that it isn't necessarily like appointment listening in the same way other mediums might be. So I don't think the time of day is important for an average advertiser to consider when their ad will be released within the day.

[00:06:53] There's also some concern or a question about frequency capping with dynamic [00:07:00] ad insertion. Meaning, if I'm going to be running dynamic insertion, let's say I am signing up to get a hundred thousand impressions in a 30 day period. Should we put some frequency capping on that campaign? The same person isn't hearing my ad 10 times in a day because they decided to listen to 10 episodes or even 10 times in a week. After all, they decided to listen to 10 episodes. So there is frequency capping that does happen, but it does depend on whether or not the hosting provider of that podcast will allow for frequency capping. At this time, at true native media, we do not want cap frequency.

[00:07:38] And part of the reason that we don't is we really do believe that there isn't such a small number of listeners that is really a huge necessity at this time. We really want to get those impressions out there and serve you. So we don't personally do any frequency capping, but that is something that you can consider.

[00:07:58] Now, the next [00:08:00] question I have, which I think is a really important question, is what exactly does a download refer to? 

[00:08:06]If you were relatively new to the space, you might not understand what a download is or what a download means. And so I think it's really important for us to establish what that download means. So when we're talking about downloads, we aren't necessarily saying that someone has physically downloaded the podcast because there are lots and lots of people who stream a podcast. But there's still thrown in that download bucket.

[00:08:32] The other thing that's really important for us to look at is when we are doing dynamic ad insertion, it is more of an impression basis than when we're doing baked-in or embedded ads. With baked-in or embedded ads, we have really no idea if someone is actually listening to that ad. Whereas with dynamic insertion, the vast majority of podcast hosting providers will only consider an impression delivered if the person has listened [00:09:00] to the part of the podcast where your ad is being delivered.

[00:09:03] So there are, I would say a lot of there's a lot of gray with all of it, but a download does not just refer to someone who has actually physically downloaded that episode. It includes people who have physically downloaded the episode and are subscribed. It includes people who have streamed the show. And then again, when we're looking at dynamic ad insertion, we're looking at the impressions delivered on that download that happened. So those are some important pieces to consider. 

[00:09:35] Now, in terms of dynamic ad pricing, we typically are going to price in two-week or four-week chunks. 

[00:09:43] So a question that I have received is why are dynamic ads priced by the month?

[00:09:48] And the reason that we priced them by the month is that we really believe that a campaign that runs for a four week period is going to give you a very good impression basis [00:10:00] and is going to allow you to reach the listeners of that program within a four week period, which tends to be a really good time period.

[00:10:08] I know that there are other companies and depending on the size of the shows you're advertising with that might sell you a week of impressions; we do two weeks and four weeks because we feel like that really creates the best essentially campaign for the advertiser. It also depends a lot on the size of the show.

[00:10:26] We've got some shows at True Native Media that we work with where they're getting over a million downloads and potential impressions within a month. And when we look at a show that size, of course, we're happy to sell those million. But, we also typically are going to break it down into smaller increments because oftentimes, advertisers are looking to buy potentially a week or two weeks instead of four.

[00:10:51] So it just depends on exactly. Yeah. You know what you are trying to accomplish and the types of podcasts you're [00:11:00] partnering with. 

[00:11:01] All right, onto the next question. So how exactly can ads align with content? This is a question I get a lot; I would say it's one of the most common questions, especially when we're looking at these hosts read endorsement ads. We're looking for that really kind of alignment. We're looking for some of the native content. How exactly can the advertiser align their message with the content of the show? 

[00:11:33] Now, at True Native Media, we do not do that. If somebody came to me and said, I only want to advertise on episodes where they talk about umbrellas. I would say no, because number one, it is a logistical nightmare to do that.

[00:11:51] And number two, we really don't think that necessarily will be the best fit for you. I have found, oftentimes [00:12:00] advertisers are very interested in trying to do so much matchy. And it's not that it doesn't benefit you to do that. But my perspective is that it doesn't benefit you enough to make it a priority.

[00:12:17] I'll give you an example. We worked with a protein powder company that was advertising on what I would call a self-help podcast. Now, this self-help podcast covered a variety of different topics from just personal development, spirituality, business, and also athletics, right? Those topics where we're talking about your body and how to get in optimal physical shape.

[00:12:43] So now, of course, this protein powder company had said, I want to be in the episodes where we can target the topics that are all around health and wellness and fitness. And I understand the perspective of wanting to be in that. [00:13:00] However, that is, again, a logistical nightmare. And partly, it's because of the independent nature of the podcast. Because there are so many independent podcasters out there, you might say, Hey, we want you in this episode, we're going to be talking, on this episode about the most important 10 things to get fit in the new year. And then, all of a sudden, they decided at the last minute, we're not going to do that content. We had something else bright and shiny come along, and we're going to talk about that in this episode instead. And, really, that's something that happens when you're talking about content. So there's a big danger, I feel, in trying to essentially create the expectation for yourself that you're going to align with the content when, in fact. What happens if there's a change that gets made, right.

[00:13:49] There are a lot of moving parts. And so I don't think that it's the best approach. Secondly, I don't always think it's the best approach because it feels a little bit too matchy. [00:14:00] We're looking for authenticity in these ad reads. And while having sponsored content is something that can be very valuable.

[00:14:09] Oftentimes, you're going to reach a person in a very strong way, regardless of the content that is appearing in that episode. If you are interested in having that strong alignment, I would recommend that you move from just doing ad reads to doing sponsored content where you're working on; how is your brand integrated into the overall podcast?

[00:14:34] And of course, that is going to be a higher investment level for you, but also it makes sense for the podcast or to put in that extra effort to create that content alignment when they're being paid for it. So that's important for you to consider as well. 

[00:14:49] The next question I have for you is how we have seen the length of the podcast play to be a part in really creating better ad performance?

[00:14:59] Are we going to get [00:15:00] better ad performance in a podcast? That's five minutes long, 10 minutes long, an hour long. What have we seen? And my answer to this is that it really does depend. If you are advertising in a very short podcast, and the show is 10 minutes long, and it's got four advertisers. That's not going to be good for you. Any of those short shows should only have one advertiser per episode.

[00:15:26] So that's really important because you don't want to get into a place where there are so many ads that it feels overwhelming. And that can be the case, whether the show is five minutes long, 10 minutes long, or even four hours long. Joe Rogan is the master of stacking those ads up. He can have some killer long episodes, and he puts a ton of ads in there.

[00:15:50] Of course, Joe Rogan gets results for his clients, or people would not continue to give him money. But I also think oftentimes he overloads his [00:16:00] episodes with advertisers. I don't believe that the show's length matters as much as the ad load within the program. So that, in my opinion, is the consideration that you should look at.

[00:16:13] And that really, I think, dovetails well into the next question that I get, which is how an advertiser can avoid being in an ad stack, essentially. So very common in terrestrial radio that they're going to do an ad break, and I don't listen to trust your radio very often, but when I do listen, I'm always a little bit surprised at how many ads there are.

[00:16:39] And then I think, gosh, in the podcast, there are no ads compared to how many ads there is terrestrial radio. But using that as an example, if there are six or seven ads in a break in terrestrial radio, and you're smack dab in the middle of you're at the end, that's going to be pretty tricky for you. And so I do think as [00:17:00] an advertiser, you need to pay attention to where the placement of your ad is within the podcast. I have podcasts at True Native Media; bless their hearts, do an amazing job breaking up their ad breaks. They don't put advertisers back to back. They might have three advertisers in an episode, but they don't put them all back to back, which is pretty amazing, I think, because it is so time-intensive. For that podcast or to create three different ad breaks, I would say it is much more common, and we are seeing much more of it happening where ads are getting stuck together. Now, again, it goes back to add quantity. If you have somebody who's running four or five ads back to back, yeah, you probably don't want to be three or four or five, and that's going to be pretty deep, but if you've got somebody who's running two ads or maybe even three ads, I don't personally think that it makes a huge difference if you were at the beginning, the middle or the end of that stack. What [00:18:00] matters more is how the ad read is being done and is the host doing a great job of creating some incentive to get the person to keep listening to their ad breaks?

[00:18:11]And for me, this goes back to the idea that. All want to buy products and services that we feel will edify our lives. And what's the best way to learn about products and services from a friend who is a podcast host? They're a friend. There's somebody that, you know, like, and trust that is recommending a product to you.

[00:18:29] So if the ad read is done well, and with a lot of things, authenticity and it feels organic, then people are going to want to listen to it. So that really gets to the crux of things, which is how is your podcast host or your podcast publisher, how are they providing good ad reads?

[00:18:48] So, in my opinion, it's not necessarily about your placement within the actual episode. It's more about the types of ad reads [00:19:00] being done, and they are ad reads that people want to listen to. 

[00:19:04] All right. The last question I have for you today is, are there specific podcasts or podcast genres that we have seen perform better for consumer brands than others?

[00:19:17] And there are obviously a lot of consumer brands that are being advertised in the podcast space right now. So what are those shows that are really going to perform best? Now, I think it's really interesting to take a look at content, and part of what you, as an advertiser, need to do is say, is this content going to reflect the brand that I am creating properly?

[00:19:43]When you have an ambassador for your product, you need to make sure that the ambassador will do a good job with that ad read. And how you know that the ad read is done well, and the content alignment there. Are you just got to take a listen? And I know that it's a bit of [00:20:00] work, and you don't have to listen to a full episode, but you need to get a feel for whether or not the way that this person is delivering their information and their message is going to resonate with what you're trying to create.

[00:20:13] And that I believe is the most important thing. There are very obscure niche podcasts out there, and those are probably not going to perform as well for a consumer good product as another show would; that's going to be more broad-based. And if you've got a very niche product that you're creating and you find a podcast that is going to relate really well to that, then by all means like, let's do this because that fit is so valuable and so important.

[00:20:44] But if you've got a broad-based product where you're trying to reach many people and your demographic isn't super, super-narrow, or targeted. If you're trying to sell clothing or food or nutritional products, really, you're [00:21:00] going to benefit from shows that are delivering more of a generalized message.

[00:21:06] So at True Native Media, we've tried really hard to identify the shows that will produce results for our advertisers. And that does have a lot to do with their audience, with their execution and genre. There are definitely different genres to consider, but it does have a lot to do with your specific product.

[00:21:26] I hope that this information has been helpful. Again, if you're an advertiser out there, if you have questions that you would like me to answer on the podcast, please send me a message because I will continue to create these episodes where we answer your questions. So I hope that this has been helpful.

[00:21:42] Have a terrific rest of your day. Please feel free again to head on over to LinkedIn and connect with me there. Or you can reach us at Have a great day, and I'll talk to you again soon.