Branded Podcasts vs. Podcast Ads (hint: it’s not a fair fight)

There have been a few conversations I’ve had lately where a brand has told me that they’ve decided not to produce a Branded Podcast in favour of just doing podcast advertisements on other leading podcasts.

I can see how this sounds like an easy win. Let someone else do the heavy lifting, and just show up with some pre-roll ads that are sprinkled across the podcast chart.

Here is why this is a false choice and not a fair fight:

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  1. Millennials hate ads.
    Recall that podcasting is the most intimate communications channel we have. It is the “voice in the head”, and 90% of listeners report they listen to podcasts all by themselves. So just when the interview, or narrated audio documentary or a dramatic fictional story gets good, let’s cut to a mid-roll. You have now ejected the listener out of their intimate moment on a device that easily permits ad-skipping. I say this is a false choice as a branded podcast is the opposite of this interrupted experience.

  2. Brands have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make something great.
    Podcast listeners are begging for someone to make a mini-documentary about something groundbreaking. Brands that have those challenging conversations about topics tangential to your market space are rewarded with fully engaged attention and loyalty.  Imagine stadiums full of people listening to 90% of 25 minutes of intimacy on a weekly or bi-weekly basis brought to them by you. This is a priceless asset that you get to drive. Please don’t cede that opportunity to your competition, or to amateurs whose shows you will pay to own your story world with your ads.

  3. Existing podcasts have listeners, but big Brands have a powerful Competitive Advantage: huge social followings.
    Often I hear that marketing folks are concerned about how difficult it will be to create a listener base. Yet they often have hundreds of thousands or millions of followers on social media. Let’s use a simple example, Tide detergent. Tide has 3.9 million followers on Facebook, 113k on Youtube, 10k on Instagram and 198k people on Twitter. Converting just 10% of these to listeners through creative promotion would be 422k listeners per week. Many podcasts out there will never see this kind of traffic. Now consider how long each of those customers spends on Tide content on Facebook, Youtube, Instagram or Twitter each week? Is it anywhere near 90% of 25 minutes? On Youtube alone, the average Tide video is 45 seconds long and receives about 30k views.

Converting large social followers to branded podcast listeners is a massive Competitive Advantage that will never be achieved if you cede your space to competing podcasts or competitor podcasts. 

So when would you consider advertising on podcasts?

  1. Advertise your Branded Podcasts on adjacent podcasts.
    To assist you in carving out your space, introduce your podcast in a short advertisement on leading podcasts that are adjacent to your subject matter. Make this investment only to bring listeners from competing spaces over to you.

  2. Advertise other promotions in your Branded Podcasts.
    Most choose not to have any advertisement interruptions in their Branded Podcasts.  But if do, advertise your own products, services or events inside of your own show, as your listeners are already friendly to your brand and your space. This could open up a new conversion channel for you.

  3. If you have a surplus budget, take advantage of listener growth and economically cheap ad rates.
    Assuming you have already used part of your budget to produce your own Branded Podcast(s), if you have surplus media spend, only then consider taking advantage of podcast trends, such as the growth in podcast listener expansion (according to Infinite Dial 2019, there were 62 million regular weekly podcast listeners in the US in 2018, up 17 million people over 2017) and historically cheap ad rates.

Roger Nairn is Co-Founder and CEO of JAR Audio

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