June 16, 2021

How Helix Sleep Makes Podcast Advertising A Success

How Helix Sleep Makes Podcast Advertising A Success

Martha Gallant, Growth Marketing Manager, sat down with us to talk about how Helix Sleep, a mattress company, took its podcast advertising strategy to the next level and ended up seeing amazing results.  She shares some insightful best practices...


Martha Gallant, Growth Marketing Manager, sat down with us to talk about how Helix Sleep, a mattress company, took its podcast advertising strategy to the next level and ended up seeing amazing results. 

She shares some insightful best practices that they implement with each campaign, leveraging their learning from content creators in podcasting and implementing them into their influencer marketing strategy. 

Martha also tells us about how they specifically approach their buys to build strong, lasting partnerships. She believes that selecting podcasts to partner with is both art and data married together and walks us through her selection process.

To connect with Martha Gallant, visit LinkedIn or Helix Sleep.

_____

➜ WE DROP NEW EPISODES EVERY WEEK, SO SUBSCRIBE!

Want to work with us? Get in touch.

Connect with us:

Twitter  | Linkedin | Facebook | Youtube

Transcript

[00:00:29]Heather Osgood: [00:00:29] Hello, and welcome to the podcast to advertising playbook.

[00:00:32] I'm your host, Heather Osgood. And today, on the show, I feel like we have a special guest. When I started this podcast, I started it because I wanted to interview. Advertisers in this space, people who were really using podcast advertising and talking to them about how they were able to really make a medium's success.

[00:00:54] And I found out that it was a little bit more challenging than I expected because many [00:01:00] people have spent time and energy, brands focus a lot on how to make podcast advertising successful, and not everyone is willing to share all the details. However, Martha Gallant from Helix Sleep, the Growth Marketing Manager at Helix Sleep, is here with us today.

[00:01:17] And while I am sure she will not share all of her secrets, she will share with us some details about how they have been able to make podcast advertising successful for them. So welcome to the show. Martha, I'm really excited to have you on today. 

[00:01:33] Martha Gallant: [00:01:33] Thank you, Heather. Great to be here. 

[00:01:35] Heather Osgood: [00:01:35] So I was hoping that you could start by telling us just a little bit about how you ended up at helix sleep. Maybe just give us just a quick snapshot of your career and what has gotten you here today? 

[00:01:48] Martha Gallant: [00:01:48] Yeah, absolutely. I had was very lucky to end up at Helix about two and a half years ago. Coming from a background in kind of marketing analytics and operations. A lot of, [00:02:00] a lot of dashboards built a lot of fun stuff there, as well as partnerships, marketing, and customer retention marketing.

[00:02:06] So those kinds married themselves together in a really nice way to join this role, which kind of is grounded in partnerships-based marketing, with a very analytical and performance-driven goal. 

[00:02:19] Heather Osgood: [00:02:19] Yeah. I like that you are so analytics-driven, and I know that when you and I have worked together, that has been a vital piece for you, is that analytics piece? Would you say that you've taken a lot of that into Helix with you? 

[00:02:34] Martha Gallant: [00:02:34] Yes. We committed to a lot of time, energy, and investment in a solid understanding of how all this is operating. A lot of it lives in a somewhat sophisticated Excel dashboard, nothing crazy, but a lot of time spent making the data perfectly talk to each other. 

[00:02:49] Marrying together our media plan are web data. And what we hear from customers as well as our entire export of Shopify data. So it all [00:03:00] talks to each other. And we see, who's able to, who's able to talk to people in a way that makes sense and can convert customers and really generate interest, as well as who's able to drive people to our website.

[00:03:10]Those folks obviously tie into our other marketing channels. We have essential work that goes on in other spaces of marketing as well. Seeing how it all plays together has been really important for us. And we've taken a lot of time to put that together.

[00:03:22] Heather Osgood: [00:03:22] Very cool. Where are you guys doing, was helix doing podcasts advertising before you joined the team? 

[00:03:28] Martha Gallant: [00:03:28] Yes, we were with Oxford Road, an agency that was doing a really great job for us. Excellent. 

[00:03:35] Heather Osgood: [00:03:35] And so when you came into your position, did you expect that podcasting was going to play a huge role in what your day-to-day work was like?

[00:03:44] Martha Gallant: [00:03:44] I joined, intending to take over radio and podcasts. We were in the process of migrating a lot of our marketing efforts in-house, wherever we could, to help us work more cross-functionally. You know, an agency can be absolutely incredible, but they're not going to AB test the landing pages that [00:04:00] you're sending people to.

[00:04:00]So we wanted to get everyone really, really invested in the customer journey from the second that they hear about Helix all the way to when they're post-purchase telling their friends about Helix. So that was part of the effort there. I was brought in specifically to do radio and podcasts after migrating away from our agency.

[00:04:16] Heather Osgood: [00:04:16] Excellent. And I'm curious, is there a reason why Helix has gravitated so strongly toward podcasting? 

[00:04:24]Martha Gallant: [00:04:24] It's so funny. I feel like there's so many jokes and memes and tweets about selling a mattress on a podcast. I know that it is just such a cliche. I love podcasts advertising. I think it's such a great option for many different brands, different products, and companies.

[00:04:38]do think that a mattress really does lend itself extremely well. It's not niche. I hope that everyone in America sleeps on a mattress every night. So in that sense, it's just a really phenomenal fit in terms of opportunities available, but it's also something that people really want to hear someone else say, Hey, I slept on [00:05:00] this.

[00:05:00] It feels nice; I got a good night's sleep. My husband didn't hate it. Things like that really matter. If you were buying a mattress and your friend told you those things, you would be pretty onboard too. A podcast is, kind of, as close as you can get to a friend recommending it to you sometimes.

[00:05:17] Heather Osgood: [00:05:17] Yeah, I love that. You said that because I really feel to me, gosh, from the beginning of my career, when I started in radio advertising, I would go into companies, and I would be like, Hey, you should run ads for your company on the radio. And they would say no word of mouth works best. So for years and years, that's what I've been hearing is word of mouth works best.

[00:05:37] And now in podcast advertising, really, in my opinion, podcast advertising is just amplified word of mouth. Because you know that word of mouth, of course, is successful, but you have no control over the quantity of that messaging that's out there. Right. And so, with podcast advertising, it's the closest thing to it.

[00:05:56] And it also, I think, really relies [00:06:00] upon very heavily as a host read medium as being very influencer marketing based. And I don't think that podcast advertising is seen as influencer marketing often enough. I'm curious what your perspective on that is? 

[00:06:12]Martha Gallant: [00:06:12] Uh, it's a Venn diagram with a lot of crossovers. Honestly, we mostly launched and scaled the channel using the exact learnings from our podcasts. We looked for sales partners who did business with us in a way that made sense for our goals. Uh, People who just understood what we meant when we talked about performance and showed signs that they're willing to collaborate with you and put together campaigns that work.

[00:06:33] And then, on the creator side, podcasters are influencers; influencers are often becoming podcasters. Almost every week,  some big influencer is coming out with some big podcasts. You really can't look at the two channels is unrelated. Another thing to consider is if you're really going for a partnership and endorsement here, and you are not, frankly, protecting your campaign by being on their other channels,  the downside is you lose you risk losing that category, [00:07:00] frankly. Suppose you run a category where you want exclusivity to make sure that you're checking out for that on their other platforms. That's one thing to consider, but honestly, the upside is a lot more meaningful than that.

[00:07:11] And the upside is you get to really amplify your message and be a huge part of someone's voice by being on multiple channels with them. So fundamentally, the two marketing channels have a ton in common. And then, even when you look within a campaign, you can almost double some of your campaigns by bringing them across to the influencer space in some sense. You know, Do they have an Instagram presence? Are they simulcast on YouTube? Uh, Do they have a random YouTube channel? Are they on Tik Tok? Who is it? So things like that are always an opportunity and the learnings from working in podcast and radio, somewhat as well, really do tie over to that.

[00:07:47] Heather Osgood: [00:07:47] Yeah. That's really great to hear cause I totally agree. And I think, you know, the audience obviously is that you're going to have crossover. And I also think you make an excellent point, especially when you're in as competitive an industry as [00:08:00] mattresses. You do want to make sure that you're locking in some of that inventory and that you're getting your voice heard across multiple channels. It sounds like that's really important to you. 

[00:08:10] Martha Gallant: [00:08:10] Yeah, absolutely. And that's, it would be rare that you would have that level of kind of intense, competitive exclusivity issues.  We generally don't deal with that.  We are a category where you do need to try to establish a little bit of exclusivity because you're not gonna have 14 different brands of mattresses at your home.

[00:08:26]And at least not that you're talking about. We do have to protect that a little bit, but for it to be worth it for a show to do that, we need to be a great partner because if we're asking for them to really get on board with us, be exclusive, use the product, endorse it.

[00:08:39] We need to ensure that we're providing a great product, a great customer service experience, and an excellent, good partnership. That's fair to them. They're compensated fairly. The terms are fair. And everything, because it really has to go both ways. Suppose you're asking a lot of your partner.

[00:08:52]Heather Osgood: [00:08:52] Right. And I know that creating good partnerships is really important for you. Um, as you know, somebody who [00:09:00] talks to a lot of different companies, I know that kind of getting back to what you said like there are all those memes about podcasts ads and mattresses and stuff. And, you know, podcasters will say things like, oh, I didn't get any money, but I got a mattress.

[00:09:13] However, I will say there are lots of mattress companies out there that don't actually give the host a mattress. It's rarer than you might think. Oftentimes their show might need to be a certain size, or the buyer might need to be a certain size. But I think one of the really unique things about Helix is that you give a mattress to everyone you work with. Is that the case? 

[00:09:34] Martha Gallant: [00:09:34] That is the case. Some shows have four hosts, and like my gosh, four people get a mattress. It's not cheap. But on an unrelated note, I think that if you can't afford to tip well, when you go to a restaurant, don't go there. If you can't afford to get someone set up for success with the campaign, don't do the campaign.

[00:09:51] Do fewer campaigns. Only work with larger shows so that you're spending less as a percentage of your spend on the product. Do whatever it takes so that when you approach [00:10:00] a partnership, you are setting it up for success. So if you're not, if you're not going to go all the way in terms of setting them up for a great campaign and you're taking a performance-driven approach, then just don't do the campaign. Do a different one, do fewer campaigns. 

[00:10:12] Heather Osgood: [00:10:12] Yeah, I think that's so, so smart. I really appreciate that. And what I also like is when we're looking at podcasts and creating good relationships and just influencers in general; my experience has been that there are advertisers out there that are like, I'm going to test with an ad, or I'm going to test with a couple of ads.

[00:10:31]And maybe they'll sample their product. Maybe they won't. How invested is that influencer in that campaign? They're like, well, I guess they're gonna run one ad. They're not going to put much energy or thought or intention behind the ad read when they don't feel like it's a partnership.

[00:10:47] And I really try always to encourage advertisers to approach every buy like a partnership, because if that host sees that you care enough about them and that you see real value in [00:11:00] what they can provide, then they're going to reciprocate. And it seems to me like that's something you understand, and it's really been effective for you. Is that the case? 

[00:11:10] Martha Gallant: [00:11:10] Yes and no. So a couple of thoughts there. We ran pretty extensive research on the tests that we've run. We had an exciting finding: we actually have almost all the information that we need to know after two integration tests. So our sales partners don't love that. They love the idea of four, six, eight integrations to kick things off. And we also have this goal of a really, really happy long-term partnership. So how do I marry the fact that the data saying I only need two ads, but the partnership is saying, Hey, that's not really enough to get people excited to work with you?

[00:11:42]And that's where it goes from being a science to art because the data says one thing, the partner says another thing, how do you make that work? So it really depends on, it depends on the partner. It depends on the show, within that, that sales partner, that network. And uh, it depends on kind of our budget and everything. You know, we're [00:12:00] trying actually to stick to sometimes two ads. But my thoughts there are, oftentimes, a really great show to work with is going to understand that the goal here, even if we're kicking it off with two ads, the goal here is to run. We have shows we run on for six years.

[00:12:14]The goal here is to run forever. Obviously, you know, that's contingent on performance, but that is very much the goal we're marching towards. So very often, a show is on board with that. When we're working with a sales network, we can sometimes say, Hey, we can do two or three ads on six shows.

[00:12:30] If you really need us to do more, then we can only test three or four shows. So what do you want the scale to look like as a sales partner? Do you want it to be a deeper partnership on fewer shows or a shallower test across more shows to lead to more partnerships long-term, hopefully? And that's where it becomes a conversation and a preference across the different networks.

[00:12:50] We've had all kinds of different conversations around that. Because we always express that the goal is very much a long-term partnership, but then we're also performance-driven. It's not a partnership for fun. It's our job. [00:13:00] We just balanced that, and we have, we've had a ton of different outcomes. Sometimes we get really great price efficiencies, so we do a lot more. Sometimes someone's in extremely high demand, and if we don't do it, we don't book all eight now we're never going to get them. Sure, but we're also very data-driven, so we try to stick to what we know is really important for us, which is that we can predict with a pretty high level of accuracy six and twelve-month performance within 60 days.

[00:13:25] Heather Osgood: [00:13:25] That is amazing to me. I'm always impressed when I hear that. And I also know that you are performance-based, as you've been mentioning. One of the reluctance I often think of new brands getting into this space is that they are so concerned about whether or not a campaign will perform.

[00:13:44] And as you mentioned, obviously, some shows do perform really well. Some shows don't perform as well. I'm curious, how do you select shows that you think are actually going to perform well? Do you think that is more [00:14:00] art, or is that science for you by this point?

[00:14:03] Martha Gallant: [00:14:03] It's art, but there's a little bit of strategy there. So we tend to take one of three approaches. I am in a fantastic company, and there are many very smart brands doing similar work. We, we have friends at different brands. We also have access to some data that helps with this.

[00:14:19]Sometimes we say, Hey, this is working for four brands we really respect. Let's see if they're interested in trying out a Helix Mattress. So we follow other really smart brands. Sometimes they really align with us. Sometimes they don't; sometimes they're totally unrelated products. We know these are brilliant marketers.

[00:14:35]And then we also dive deeper within successful content areas. So let's say, and this is pure, for example, purposes only. Let's say we get on a bowling podcast, and it's absolutely explosive. Our cost per session is incredible. ROAS is really strong. We say, Hey, let's get on all the bowling podcasts.

[00:14:54] And we expand there. Again, this is really, for example, we truly don't run a bowling podcast, but we also have really [00:15:00] fantastic relationships with many great sales partners. They come to us, and they say, Hey, this show's new, check it out. This would be a good fit for you.

[00:15:07] Oftentimes, existing shows have spinoff shows. The host is already onboarded. The performance is already there. We scale with that new show, but it's incredibly reliable. Or they have a brand new show launching that's interesting, or they say, we hadn't talked about this show before, but this is really working for a couple of other brands.

[00:15:22] I think it would be a good fit for you. And they're interested in helix. So we're so lucky to have many good partnerships where we're often served some great opportunities on a silver platter. 

[00:15:31] Heather Osgood: [00:15:31] Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. That's great info for sure. And how do you measure results from a campaign? Once an ad has run, how do you know that it's actually been successful for you? 

[00:15:43] Martha Gallant: [00:15:43] Yeah, so we married together with our web data, which is really important. Our landing pages, we're always iterating on those. We do look at promo code usage somewhat, and then we also have some post-purchase consumer research surveys that go out that tie into things as well.

[00:15:57]So, um, fundamentally, I think, [00:16:00] everyone's going to have a little bit of a different approach. If you run a really great compelling discount, promo codes are probably the way to go. So everyone's going to have a little bit of a different approach, but what I've seen is you really need to have at least two sources that you're looking at, because otherwise, you're going to miss, you're going to get false negatives.

[00:16:16] And I call it looking for money behind the couch cushions, which is where I just, I'm like, where can I find performance because I really want to renew this show. Uh, We do that a lot, and we look at kind of performance anywhere we can, especially relying on a lot of web data, which we've really invested in.

[00:16:32] Heather Osgood: [00:16:32] Are you guys doing much with pixel tracking and the attribution partners in this space? 

[00:16:39] Martha Gallant: [00:16:39] We're not, we're intrigued by it, but I think so. First of all, I think that the data that it captures often need a pretty sizeable multiplier. So, you know, Let's say that they say we accurately captured 50% of listeners. But then also I think that pixel-based tracking would lend itself extremely well to a [00:17:00] quicker purchase.

[00:17:01] We, we are a very long consideration item. We get revenue from campaigns that we ended three years ago on a very regular basis. And that's where I think pixel-based tracking gets a little tougher because people are clicking around. They're asking on a Facebook group; they're Googling, they're going to a blog post talking about the 10 best mattresses for your back pain. 

[00:17:22]They are doing everything you can think of before finally clicking purchase on a helix mattress as they should. Do all the research you possibly can. That's exactly the customer journey we want, but that doesn't really lend it too well to pixel-based tracking. I think that's better for a shorter, simpler customer journey. 

[00:17:39] Heather Osgood: [00:17:39] Sucks. Yeah. Yeah. I could totally see that. I think that makes a ton of sense. And I'm curious how long, so you said like you have gotten conversions from people where you ran ads three years ago. Are you tracking that through the promo codes? 

[00:17:54] Martha Gallant: [00:17:54] More through URLs? We keep all of our URLs live. We've seen many other brands turn off [00:18:00] URLs the second they turn off a campaign. I think that's a huge missed opportunity. So, we will keep the landing pages live. We'll keep the promo codes live forever. Almost indefinitely. Yeah. 

[00:18:10]Heather Osgood: [00:18:10] We had a situation at our house where we moved into a new home, and a product started arriving in the mail that interested my son.

[00:18:19] And it's a podcast advertiser. It's a company that's advertised with us quite a bit, and he said, mom, I love this. You need to get it for me. And I was like, oh, okay, cool. I'll get it for you. Um, And I knew that this company had advertised with us in December. So we're recording this in May, and so I was like, I might as well go ahead and give my podcast credit for this.

[00:18:40]Right. I'm going to go on this landing page and do the order through the landing page. And it was dead. And I was like, it hasn't been that many months and this is an advertiser that's been in this space for quite a long time. And truthfully, I was pretty shocked that it was dead. And so I, really just second that [00:19:00] there, it doesn't hurt you to keep it open.

[00:19:03] And the other thing, truthfully, I wasn't necessarily even looking for a discount. If I had clicked on the page and it had just taken me even to the home page, right? Like I would still have proceeded with my buy more than anything, I was like, Hey, I want to give my adverts or my podcast or credit for this product.

[00:19:20]And I thought that was so interesting, and I really do believe that something advertisers should be doing, and I don't understand why they turn them off. It doesn't make any sense. So yeah, if you're 

[00:19:31] Martha Gallant: [00:19:31] listening, keep your landing page on send products. Um, And what happens when you keep the landing page on a very regular basis? Take a look at shows that we've sunsetted.

[00:19:44] And we see if, if any kind of latent revenue has come in and we renew campaigns all the time. We are; the door is never closed. We are always coming back and saying, Hey, you know, we were wrong. We're full of regret knocking on your [00:20:00] door. Let's get back on the show. And we, we do that all the time based on performance. Um, We would never do that if we hadn't set up the infrastructure to facilitate that. 

[00:20:08] Heather Osgood: [00:20:08] Yeah. Yeah. And I do think you make such a good point. Buying a mattress is very different than maybe buying a small consumer good product, right? Like it, it does the life cycle of your purchase and your customer's journey.

[00:20:22] All of those things really play into the approach you're going to take with podcast advertising. So I think that's definitely important to look at, but. I just don't see that it takes really any effort to leave the landing page live. So I would encourage you to do that. 

[00:20:37] Martha Gallant: [00:20:37] It takes more effort to take it down, right?

[00:20:40] Heather Osgood: [00:20:40] Yeah. That's a perfect point. So I'm curious when you think about putting together other talking points for your shows, one of the things that I hear from podcasters a lot is man, this company gave me so many talking points, obviously, going back to the whole word of mouth, the [00:21:00] authenticness of the ad read, how do you balance giving hosts or influencers enough copy or enough talking points to make an excellent ad without giving them so much that they feel overwhelmed by what you're asking them to say.

[00:21:16] Martha Gallant: [00:21:16] That's a great question because if you're buying a 60-second ad and you give them 60 seconds of content, and then you say endorse it too. When on earth are they supposed to do that in the ad? I see this happen a lot with some other brands, and we have taken, we, we really hope that this is, this is a way that partners enjoy, but what we do is keep the required talking points very light.

[00:21:39] They're very light. They just say that the most exciting part of our brand is the variety of mattresses we have. Many other mattress companies are great products, but their kind of a one size fits all solution. So we say, Hey, really talk about the fact that you're going to take sleep with and an algorithm will match you to the very best mattress for you. There's a ton of different options. And then you'll have an easy experience from there at a [00:22:00] hundred nights sleep trial, and you'll be guaranteed a good experience. How long did that take me? Six seconds very quick. And outside of that, they have many optional talking points that they can look through and think, okay, what's important to me here.

[00:22:12] In addition, we give some inspiration for what makes a really great endorsement because people might not think of what's great. But it's really only there for them to lean on. So people might not think, oh, we love it when you say that your spouse loves it or that you're. It's an improvement over what you used to have or something like that.

[00:22:28] So we just offer some inspiration in terms of talking points and the endorsement itself, which is really only there to facilitate whatever they want to say. It's a lot, it's a lot of options, but they just pick and choose it also; when we run partnerships that run for five, six years, it gives them variety so that they can mix things up themselves, versus us sending out, okay, here's our may script, here's our June script because it's the same matches the whole time guys. So we really let them take ownership there. But we keep the requirements really low, and that has really helped them make the [00:23:00] ad what they want.

[00:23:00]If they make the ad what they want. And it's really something that's not working for us; we give thoughtful, detailed, creative feedback for them to implement the next time. That's not the make-good territory. We don't have a strict script. And we just kind of let them do their thing.

[00:23:15]Heather Osgood: [00:23:15] So really it's giving them those thoughtful pieces in the talking points because I do, and you make an excellent point, if an advertiser or I'm sorry, if a podcast is going to be running with you for a long time, it can be pretty difficult to think of new ideas, for the ad read. So I think giving them that inspiration is perfect. But keeping those points fairly succinct will allow them to essentially make the ad their own, which is really the important part.

[00:23:47]I mean, Obviously, getting across your unique selling proposition is so important and so valuable. Still, the podcast ads are powerful because of the host, and we want them to lean [00:24:00] on their knowledge of their audience and just their style. Right. And so it sounds like you've had success with that.

[00:24:07] Martha Gallant: [00:24:07] Yes. We've had a lot of success with that. To put it succinctly, what they need to do is small and what they can do is large. They have, I don't know, three lines that they have to do. Probably 20 lines that they could choose from if it's relevant to their life to include. 

[00:24:23]Heather Osgood: [00:24:23] I have heard multiple times that the quality of the ad read can have a huge impact on the results. Have you found that to be true? 

[00:24:34] Martha Gallant: [00:24:34] Yes. Very, Very much and, you know, that ties into, like we were talking about a few minutes ago, send products, get an endorsement, make sure that before you start the partnership before you send the IO that they are actually excited about your brand, they want the product. They are excited to talk about it.

[00:24:50]Cause that's the very foundation of a good ad read. And then within that, Are they compelling? Is it exciting? Is it authentic to them? Um, If they totally switched gears from their usual, you know, [00:25:00] podcast mode, and they switch and turn into this animated thing that they weren't before, that's not gonna be authentic.

[00:25:05] So are their ads authentic to them? Do they endorse? Do they talk about their connection to the product, how it's impacted their life? Um, Those are all just extremely important. And you can screen for that kind of stuff, you know, listen to the other as they do for other good brands.

[00:25:19]It's gonna depend on the product. You can't endorse some things, so they don't lend themselves to it, but just see, you know, what, what do you need, and do they do it for other brands? Because if they do it for other brands, they'll do it for you. 

[00:25:30] Heather Osgood: [00:25:30] Yeah. I think that's sage advice. Now. I know that Helix has been, really, I would say, attached to embedded or baked-in ads. And I know as an industry, certainly, you know, there, there is no debating that baked-in embedded ads do typically perform better than dynamic. But as the industry does move more toward dynamic ad insertion, because you have experienced so much success with podcast advertising, I [00:26:00] guess I'm just curious what your thoughts about dynamic insertion are and how you are thinking about trying; to position dynamic to be successful for you?

[00:26:11] Martha Gallant: [00:26:11] Oh, my gosh. I could talk about dynamic insertion until the cows come home. So I'll share a couple of thoughts. We would lose out on many opportunities, including many successful partnerships, if we said no to do dynamic ads. We say yes to dynamic ads. We have some baked-in ads that do not perform.

[00:26:27] We have some. Dynamic ads are performing incredibly well. So, um,  there's no hard and fast rule here, and you have to keep an open mind. Think about the partnership holistically. Are you getting a lukewarm endorsement-free, boring, old script read, baked-in ad?

[00:26:42] Don't do that. Get a good ad that's dynamically inserted. You'll definitely get better results. It needs to be one of many factors as you could consider the partnership. So that's one thought. And then also, I think that people have a few different conceptions of what dynamic insertion looks like.

[00:26:59]You [00:27:00] know, we picture a baked-in ad as if you know you, Heather, and I are on the phone right now. And you say, okay, thanks, Martha, we're going to, we're going to switch over to our ad right now. And then you do your 60-second ad read, and it's all part of the recording, and it'll never go away.

[00:27:15]There's no, pixel-enabled way to take out the ad, and it's gonna live there forever. And in 50 years, when someone listens to this episode, it's still there. So that's truly baked-in ads, and those do not exist. And then we also picture dynamic insertion being, you know, you record some robotic producer read 30-second ad, and you put it in 100% of ad spots for a one-week flight period or something. That's not what a dynamic ad can be. There's so much room in the middle, including many ads that are kind of hybrid, obviously. So a really great hybrid ad feels like it's part of the episode inserted on an episodic basis.

[00:27:55]You know, it's in today's episode; it doesn't appear in Thursday's episode. It doesn't appear in next week's episode. [00:28:00] And and then let's say you bought a hundred thousand impressions on your IO. Maybe that ad runs until it hits a hundred thousand impressions or for 90 days, whichever is higher. So you have some upside as a buyer, but the seller can go ahead and sell that back catalog later down the road.

[00:28:16] When, once they've given you at the very least what you paid for, if not more. So that kind of dynamic insertion hybrid ad is fantastic. And I think it's fairer to the media creators themselves. It's not fair for me to get 10 times what I paid for because many people come and listen to this episode later; that's just not fair.

[00:28:35]And you wouldn't go to a clothing store and buy one shirt, and they give you nine extras, and you say, this is totally fair for everyone. So it's a similar concept to me where you know, the upside for you as a buyer is no upside for them as a seller. So I want to make sure that the companies that create really great content are compensated in a way that makes sense.

[00:28:52] I agree with the hybrid version of a dynamic ad, but there are also dynamic ads that do run kind of catalog [00:29:00] wide. You strictly pay for your a hundred thousand impressions, and then it's gone. We've seen that really work. We try to keep the flighting lighter to keep it more efficient.

[00:29:09] So we wouldn't do, we wouldn't be 50% of the ads that you hear. Right. Because you run the risk of like someone been just successful. So oversaturation is just inefficient. So we keep the flighting very conservative there. And we say, Hey, this isn't worth quite as high as CPM to us, and we really need it to be a good read.

[00:29:31] So often, we do get a more efficient CPM. We can often provide really, really thoughtful feedback and approve the read before it goes live. We have some pretty big dynamic buys where they do record a new read for us every month, and they run it by us, and we make sure that you know, if we're, If we're paying for something that doesn't serve in the most effective way possible, we're at least really setting it up for success. And that helps us be a long-term partner for them. So it's really a win-win that you work together on making the content great. 

[00:30:00] [00:30:00] Heather Osgood: [00:30:00] Those are all such great points. And I just really thank you for sharing all of that because I think you hit the nail on the head. And the reality is that baked-in ads have been around for a long time.

[00:30:16] But baked-in ads also aren't just universally successful just because they're baked in, and it's the same with dynamic. With dynamic, though, there are so many more facets to consider. And I think really, it just adds to the complexity overall of purchasing ads, but that doesn't mean they can't be successful.

[00:30:38] I always want to make sure that I'm saying that dynamically inserted ads don't have to be Geico, monster truck type radio sounding ads. They definitely can and should still be host read endorsement ads. And from a listener's perspective, they're done correctly; they shouldn't sound much different.

[00:30:55] So I always try just to make sure. As an industry, we see that [00:31:00] and really push that forward. Um, I know that there's so much targeting that is capable with dynamic insertion, but I know I still see a lot of value in that partnership and in reaching an audience as opposed to trying to really segment it and get down.

[00:31:19] And I often find that the reach isn't great enough to really make that segmenting or that targeting successful when you get really segmented with your audience. Have you found, or have you had, any experiences with that? 

[00:31:32] Martha Gallant: [00:31:32] Yeah, we don't focus on audience targeting. I could see how some products or brands would, but our product is so widely applicable to anyone that we don't really concern ourselves with it.

[00:31:43] And I think there's no such thing really, to me, at least as a bad audience, I, because I focus more on the relationship with the host. Everyone, at some point in their life, is probably going to buy the product you're selling, but who's going [00:32:00] to tell them that yours is a great one.

[00:32:02]Is it going to be a Facebook ad? Is it going to be a podcast ad? Is it going to be a podcast ad from a random producer reading something? Is it going to be a podcast ad from a host who they love, who they are personally invested in, and who they deeply respect, mentioning your product? So I don't subscribe too much to audiences.

[00:32:22] Audience targeting audience segmentation. I can see how others would, but if you're thinking about performance at the end of the day, do you have to pay a 20% premium to target? And if you do, does it improve your performance by 20%? Because if it, if that's how it happens, then you're back to square one, honestly, and you're making the same results.

[00:32:41] Yep. And adding complexity to your process. 

[00:32:44] Heather Osgood: [00:32:44] Totally. I agree. And I think that you hit the nail on the head because I really think that does happen, right? Like you, anytime you add targeting, you're going to increase your costs, and if your performance isn't increasing by the same amount that you're paying for that targeting, is it really even worth it at the end of the [00:33:00] day?

[00:33:00] So I think that's really important. Um, I know that we need to start wrapping it up here, but I am very interested in how you have scaled podcast advertising. So I know that Helix, and really I'm sure much of the work you have personally done at Helix has increased your podcast ad spend fairly significantly.

[00:33:21]Since you have been investing in this space. And I think one of the things that I hear frequently is that podcasts aren't scalable. So I guess I'm inquisitive from your perspective; how have you made podcast advertising scalable? 

[00:33:36] Martha Gallant: [00:33:36] Another favorite topic of mine. I have been, first of all, so lucky to be supported by the leadership of my company, by budgets, by priorities, to have the opportunity to scale podcasts.

[00:33:49] So I think the very first thing that happens here is you're in a company that's bought in uh, you're able to create that buy-in and you. Can run with the opportunities out there because there [00:34:00] are many opportunities to scale. I don't know who said podcasts are hard to scale, but I would love to talk to them.

[00:34:04]That's the first thing I, and we have; depending on the month, we've essentially increased our budget 10 to 15 times. You know, we just, we try to find a new show. So we test a ton of new shows, shows that are successful, we increase the frequency. 

[00:34:16] We expand within our existing shows within our existing sales partners and brand new areas. Structurally, we agreed as a company on a certain proportion of our monthly budget for podcasts being committed to testing.

[00:34:31]Let's say it's 30%.  It really varies. I don't even know if that's where we're at these days, but let's say it's that. That is money that you were okay with just losing; understand that's not going to be the performance that your ongoing shows have because it takes time to really ramp up a show and get a strong performance out of it.

[00:34:46] So commit to that level of testing and fill it every month. Find strong performers and stack them in and keep your ongoing performing shows and in an [00:35:00] unlimited budget, because if something is performing according to your business goals, why on earth would there be a limit on that? If it's an opportunity for your company to be growing, then it's essentially limitless.

[00:35:11]Unless you're losing money on podcasts. Only do it if you're growing on podcasts because we treat podcasts as a growth marketing channel to generate money that fuels our business. Keep your performing budget unlimited. Keep your test budget sizeable. Then let's say you test 10 shows every month.

[00:35:29]If you are stacking on two, three, four, five of those every month based on strong performance before you know it, you're not running on 20 shows, you're running on a hundred, and then the next year you're running on 200. So I'm plugged into performance, renew fast and renew often. If you can ever carve out more budget for testing, do it.

[00:35:48] And just really commit to kind of a certain minimum amount for testing. Also, commit to what constitutes a successful test and really act on it. Don't kind of keep it [00:36:00] abstract and say, gosh, you know, the average was nice. Look for your cost per session. Look for your cost per add to cart and renew there. But also, you know, nurture the shows.

[00:36:09] A show will not just perform forever if you set it and forget it; it's not a crockpot.  So give them creative feedback if you launch a new product if you have any new information to share with them. Keep things interesting, wherever you can make sure that you're helping them succeed because they only deal with the equipment you give them.

[00:36:29]So. Really nurture your existing shows, but very much committed to wider testing. 

[00:36:36] Heather Osgood: [00:36:36] That's excellent advice. One of the questions I have is, do you see diminishing returns? So let's say you've got a podcast that is a high performer. Let's say you run a test. It performs you go ahead, and you commit to a longer by, and you're like, Hey, this show's doing really well.

[00:36:51] And then maybe in six months, maybe in a year performance get soft. How often are you looking at that show to see that it continues to [00:37:00] perform? And where is that diminishing return? Where it's like, well, I think everybody in that audience already has bought a mattress. Like anybody who's going to buy has bought.

[00:37:08] So what does that look like? 

[00:37:09]Martha Gallant: [00:37:09] We generally don't see diminishing returns. We don't think that's fundamental to the partnership. And I think that probably has something to do with our product, that, being something that's a not niche and a long consideration product. So everyone's going to buy it at some point.

[00:37:24] And they're going to think for three years about it sometimes. So we generally don't believe that has to happen for us. I don't want to speak for others. Part of the reason that generally doesn't happen is we do keep flighting on the lighter side. We have sales partners who say, Hey, this would do really well if you were on two or three times a month. And we say we love this partnership, but the best way to keep it going long-term and help us have budget tests for opportunities with you is to run it once a month. So we keep the flighting more conservative. Sometimes that means that people who are loyal listeners to a show don't hear their first Helix ad for four months.

[00:37:55] And we just have to live with that. Because that keeps performance efficient. And we've seen that [00:38:00] historically worked well for our partnerships, even if it's on the conservative side. We do that. And if we see a decrease in performance, diminishing returns often, it's something that we can work with the partner on.

[00:38:09] We can give and create feedback. We can spice things up there.  We can identify a specific issue in their copy or speak with our sales partner and say, Hey, we know this has done really well. We know that this will do really well with a bonus. If you have extra inventory coming up, we can really use this, and then we can stop worrying about it.

[00:38:25] And that's, it's really going to depend on the partner going to depend on the show, the inventory. Obviously, it should be fair to everyone, but oftentimes we can give the boosts that we need and find ways to continue because we have extremely collaborative partners. 

[00:38:37] Heather Osgood: [00:38:37] Yeah. That's great to hear.

[00:38:39] And I often think just as a consumer myself,  especially, I think with a product like a mattress, but depending on the product you have, there are certain times in your life where you need it. If you just bought a mattress or if you don't need a mattress, let's say for a couple of months or a couple of years even, but [00:39:00] how many times I know it's happened to me, I feel like several times in my life where I hear about something that I'm really interested in, or maybe,

[00:39:07] maybe my interest is even just peaked in it. And then, I saw like I saw an ad or I heard an ad. And then when I want to actually when I'm ready to make a purchasing decision, they're gone. And then it's gosh, I, what was that company was so cool, but I can't remember what the name was or. So I think it is so important to have that consistency because just because somebody hears about your product today doesn't mean they're actually going to make a purchasing decision.

[00:39:35]Right. Because there are only so many people in the market to purchase your product on any given day. So it's making sure that you're in front of that person when they're ready to make a buying decision. And it seems like that's what this kind of consistent advertising is doing for you. 

[00:39:48] Martha Gallant: [00:39:48] Yeah. It's just kind of staying top of mind. We're, We're here when you need us. I'm not here to tell you; you need a mattress. You probably don't, but someday you will. And ours are pretty great American made great customer service tons of different options for [00:40:00] everyone. We even offer a plus-sized mattress for plus-size folks. We saw that as a significant opportunity and just good offerings.

[00:40:07]So. You hear that enough podcasts, and you start to understand that, Hey, when I am ready, this is a good option. 

[00:40:13] Heather Osgood: [00:40:13] Awesome. Well, Martha, thank you so much for being on this show. I really appreciate all of your insight, and I appreciate you, you know, just sharing some excellent best practices because podcasts advertising is so powerful.

[00:40:24]Um, And I believe just like all advertising, it does take some work. It does take some thought, but if you can do it in a really thoughtful, calculated way. It can produce great results, and it sounds like it has for helix. 

[00:40:37] Martha Gallant: [00:40:37] Absolutely. It is. It's one of our, one of our core focus areas, and we, I personally, have just had such a good time working in this industry.

[00:40:45] Some great friends, some great partners. I've learned so much. I really can't say enough good things about the podcast world. So always happy to be talking about it. 

[00:40:54] Heather Osgood: [00:40:54] Awesome. If people want to connect with you, is there a good place for them to connect? 

[00:40:59] Martha Gallant: [00:40:59] Yeah, they can [00:41:00] find me on LinkedIn, Martha Gallant.

[00:41:02] Also, my email address is just martha@helix.com. Always happy to have conversations about what other folks are up to. 

[00:41:08] Heather Osgood: [00:41:08] Awesome. Thanks so much for being on this show, and I wish you much-continued success with podcast advertising. 

[00:41:14] Martha Gallant: [00:41:14] Thank you so much, Heather.

Martha Gallant

Growth Marketing Manager

Martha oversees all media buying for Helix Sleep's brands, including their podcasts and influencers. She absolutely loves this industry and has the best time running her team and finding creative, strategic ways to get people as excited about great mattresses and furniture as she is. Martha is extremely close with my family outside of work, always cooking and traveling whenever she can.