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  • Writer's pictureRanieri & Co.

What makes for a great podcast ad

Recently I wrote a piece titled It's Here: The Science Behind the Power of a Podcast Ad. It was a lengthy title and very scientific, but the article generated a nice amount of interest including a request for a follow up piece on what makes for a good podcast ad. It’s wonderful to know that podcast ads are powerful, but how do we as marketers harness that power?


Let’s get right into it. It is Valentine’s Day after all and there’s chocolate waiting to be eaten.


Initially, you start by selecting the podcasts in which the ad will sit based on the content genre.  For example, if you want to reach people who are deeply interested in business and tech, then you’d select placement within Business Wars or other podcasts that are performing well in the genre. The concept here is simple: ads are effective when contextually relevant to the environment in which they sit.

Or you may want to reach people deeply engrossed in True Crime, which is one of the most recurrently popular podcast genres. And also happens to be a great place if you’re looking for a heavily female-skewed audience. Social psychologist Amanda Vicary found that her research “suggests that women are drawn to true crime because of the information they can learn from it, even if they aren’t aware that that may be the reason they are listening!” So it’s all about learning. Learning to murder.

Once you’ve selected your genre and podcasts based on fit, audience profile and total downloads, you then select ad placement within the podcast, which is typically: 

Pre: at the beginning or within the first 5 minutes of the podcast

Mid: at the halfway point and usually 2/3rds of the way through, and 

Post: right towards, or at the very end, of the podcast  

These are either dynamically inserted, which occurs at the point of listen based on geo location and podcast selected, or they are baked-in which means they are recorded as part of the show.

With most podcasts, the host or producer will deliver the read.  At Ranieri x Co. we always recommend host-read ads for the contextual relevance and endorsement achieved.  They simply sound so much better and are far more likely to be embraced by the listener given the deeply immersive and trusting environment that the host has established over time. Host-read ads generally perform a whole lot better.

What we definitely DO NOT recommend is taking a radio ad and placing it into a podcast environment.  Radio ads are created to stand out in a long advertising break and within the context of background listening.  With podcasts, the listener’s attention is already guaranteed, as is engagement. Therefore a shouty, jingle-based ad will sound brutal and out of context.

A final note on host-read ads: similar to influencers, hosts know their audiences intimately. Instead of super-scripted monologues, it’s best to provide hosts with talking points for them to speak naturally about to their audience. They know what works, and will create something optimal for that moment in their show as a result.

Finally, podcast advertising remains under utilised and clutter free.  Typically the total ad load for a 30 minute podcast is 4 units. The total ad spend on podcasts is tiny compared to other mediums with podcast monetisation at $.01 per listener per hour which equates to 10x less than radio.

The lag in advertising revenue isn’t due to a lack of efficacy of ads because ads in podcasts work!  Nielsen claim that pre roll ads lift purchase intent by 10.8% which is higher than the 10.3% from video ads, and Midroll released a study undertaken with 170,000 listeners and discovered that a staggering 61% of listeners reported buying a product they heard about on a podcast ad.

Which is why I bought all this chocolate. I’m blaming podcast ads.


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