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Measuring podcast ROI

“Our number one goal is ticket sales and we can only buy on platforms that track a pure conversion for a ticket purchase.” I overhead this yesterday and immediately thought, this perfectly encapsulates sentiment among paid media managers.

As the adoption of podcasts continues to explode, there is an increasingly strong incentive to embrace the medium for advertising and branded content, but like all investments, we want measurable “trackable” Return on Investment (ROI). Thankfully, within podcast advertising measuring ROI has rapidly developed in the industry’s relatively short lifespan, with many tools and techniques emerging for measuring success.


The basics: measure audience size with unique downloads


When finding the reach of a podcast campaign, the first step is to measure the size of the audience. A good place to start with is total downloads. Quite simply, a series may have 400,000 total downloads, which quite literally means the series has been downloaded 400,000 times. No surprises here, no nomenclature trickery. 

That series may also have 100,000 unique downloads, indicating 100,000 unique IP addresses have accessed the podcast, resulting in an average of 4 downloads per unique person. Multiple downloads are most commonly attributed to multiple episodes within the podcast series. In terms of traditional media metrics, reach is interchangeable with unique downloads.

And finally, there may be 800,000 ad impressions within those 400,000 downloads. This results from numerous placements within the episodes as ads can be placed pre, mid and post roll: towards the beginning, middle and end of the episode. 800,000 impressions resulting from 400,000 downloads would imply a frequency of 2 ads per episode (800,000 impressions / 400,000 downloads), or an average of 8 ads consumed per person over the course of the series (800,000 impressions / 100,000 unique downloads).


Track results with redemption codes

Knowing your audience is one thing, but how do you know ads are resulting in real-world action? The gold standard of attribution in this medium are podcast-specific redemption codes or custom URLs in your ads. Why is this the ultimate measure of ROI? Engagement can be directly linked back to your podcast campaign. If you direct listeners to use the promo code BADBATCH, or to visit www.mysexybrand.com/BadBatch, then you know exactly where to attribute purchases made with that particular promo code or traffic attributed to your podcast ad.


You may be wondering how effective call-to-actions like these would be on an audio-based medium. This is where the podcast medium shines. Research by Wondery and Neurolab revealed that ads on podcasts are notably memorable, have a strong ability to grow brand trust and create an emotional connection with the message being shared. 


Find insights with attribution platforms

In the age of digital media, we love a bit of tracking regardless of how creepy it gets and where it follows us. Attribution platforms can now provide brands with a pixel to be implemented on the brand’s website. These can track call-to-actions, whether those are purchases or add to carts. Wondery uses Podsights (dashboard pictured below), which aims to “take podcast advertising from guesswork to a science.”



The dashboard uses the wide set of data provided by podcasting platforms and presents it to marketers in a digestible report. It presents reach (based on unique downloads), CPM, as well as revenue based on campaign CTAs, perhaps the most concrete ROI measure of all.

With tools like this widely available, marketers can confidently invest in the podcasts as an effective medium for advertising. Paid media managers can rest assured: conversions and ROI can be tracked and measured through podcasting.

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