Podcast Advertising: Creating Great Host-read Ad Reads

Podcast advertising continues to grow in popularity, with more and more brands taking advantage of this space. Spend a day listening to your favorites and you’ll inevitably come across podcast ads for Casper, ZipRecruiter or MeUndies. With currently over 850,000  podcasts and 30 million episodes the medium is expected to see ad spend cross half a billion dollars in 2020. 

To help Amazon Web Services promote their newly-launched Intersect Music Festival, we worked with their team to implement a holistic advertising strategy across digital and traditional outlets, including a variety of podcast buys. To execute this, we developed a list of shows likely to resonate with their target audience. A festival with a diverse lineup spanning all genres in a highly-desirable travel destination like Las Vegas gave us a lot of options to work with. 

From the start, we knew we wanted to focus ad spots on mid-roll ad inventory, less likely to be skipped by podcast audiences who expect to hear ads at the beginning (pre-roll) and end (post-roll) of their podcast. We also honed in on host-read ads, which can add a strong layer or authenticity and endorsement to the message being communicated to passionate fans. Working with podcast networks like MidRoll, Paragon Collective and NPR, we put together a mix of shows to fit within the overall budget and flight. 

How to create great mid-roll host-read podcast ads

For these ads, you want to work in a tailored promo specific to the show for the ad to feel unique and help track where your customers are coming from. Keynotes and copy points were given to well-known personalities like Marc Maron, Chris D’Elia, Charlamagne tha God and Scott Aukerman to be read on upcoming shows. It was interesting to see how everyone took the same notes and added their own personal spin. Some played up the artists names, others emphasized Vegas. Marc Maron wondered what the hell “post-apocalyptic dodgeball” entailed. 

Podcast Hosts Marc Maron, Chris D’Elia, Charlamagne tha God, and Scott Aukerman

After the full lineup for Intersect was announced a Rolling Stone article touted the festival as having “headliners to rival that of Coachella” and “enough tech to bill itself as a mini SXSW. 

Knowing that it was a strong endorsement that would likely resonate with potential attendees, we quickly requested updates for all of the shows that hadn’t yet aired, asking them to work the quote into their ads and all of them were able to get it done.

The most impactful read came from Chris D’Elia, on his Congratulations podcast (here starting at the 38:58 mark). Chris had some fun with the convergence of music, art and tech, claimed Vegas as second only to the fictional Narnia as the ideal location for a festival and gave some added oomph to the Rolling Stone quote. As a result, more direct ticket sales were driven from Congratulations than any other podcasts in the campaign.

Typical Podcast Advertising Costs

Podcast advertising CPM rates can vary greatly depending on the type of show and the audience it’s reaching.  We’ve seen CPMs as high as $200, though most rates fall in the $20-$30 range.

With so many podcasts to choose from, it can seem easy to find the right audience demographics to reach.   What can really make the difference is the quality of the ad read. It is important to know your podcast hosts and give them room to be themselves. Don’t shy away from a little mockery or sarcasm and be ready to modify based on what’s working elsewhere.

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