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Podcasts: a more intimate form of advertising

Oct 16, 2019
Podcasts: a more intimate form of advertising

Once upon a time, ‘podcast’ was a word absent from our vocabulary. In fact, its creation as a word owes it origins to a weary journalist searching for an all-encompassing term to categorise internet radio blogs. Podcast is what he settled on.

Fast-forward to today and anyone who has something to say and the equipment to record is having their say. Everyone from Joe Bloggs to the BBC are producing podcasts. High quality audio files can be created with relative ease and the internet makes it possible to reach a global audience.

And as podcasts continue to surge in popularity, advertisers will look to leverage this growing captive audience.

What’s propelled podcasts into the mainstream then?

Firstly, the little handheld devices that know us better than we know ourselves. Yes, the scourge on humanity, the mobile phone. When Apple’s 2012 iPhone introduced a podcast app this medium truly took off. It enabled people to produce, edit, share and store these audio files on a compact, portable device. Secondly, the proliferation of 4G and Wi-Fi has helped significantly. This enabled listeners to browse, download and stream content anywhere at any time.

Today we are in the midst of a podcast revolution. According to a study conducted by research firm WARC, podcast advertising spend is expected to double to $1.6 billion by 2022. And where there is a captive audience, advertisers are chomping at the bit to get involved. They’re desperate to cash in and not miss the boat, especially as traditional advertising mediums are proving less effective.

Speak directly to your audience

From 2017 – 2018, advertising spend in the UK podcast industry rose 85%... and this trend is only likely to increase as podcasts enjoy greater popularity. Podcasts enable advertisers to speak to their target audience in a more intimate way; listeners aren’t tuning into a national radio station; they are tuning into something very specific to them. Someone listening to a podcast on the history of Nintendo consoles is a captive audience for a very niche type of ad, and advertisers can exploit this.

Adverts in podcasts inspire listener action, perhaps because there are less of them. Listeners aren’t bombarded with five minutes of relentless adverts; they’re listening to one or two at a time and as a result they are more engaged with what is being said and sold.

Podcast advertising comes in many forms

Podcast listeners buy-in to who is voicing the podcast – they choose to listen to this one voice out of a selection of thousands. Therefore, there is a sense of heightened trust between the listener and content creator and they’re more receptive to ads voiced by their favourite podcasters. So, when these people voice sponsored ads on their show, it really is a perfect storm for advertisers.

However, one slight difference is how aggressive or direct ads should be. Because podcasts are more intimate and personalised, the ad content that appears on them must be too. It cannot be overly shouty or salesy. A second-hand car salesman going in for the hard sell would be a good example of an approach to avoid at all costs – it must be more subtle. More conventional ads may take on the appearance of a traditional radio ad, but the subtle differences must be considered if they are to be effective.

Does podcast advertising provide bang for your buck?

Compared to traditional forms of advertising, 10% more listeners are likely to buy after exposure to podcast ads. Not bad, eh – but how much will it set you back? Well, rates vary depending on the size of the podcast audience; for every 1000 listeners the price will increase for a 10, 30 or 60 second ad. Dependent to those factors, CPM (cost per thousand listeners) varies between £15 - £20.  

What podcasts do you listen to? Why do you think they’re so appealing? Are podcasts better suited than other mediums for advertising? Let us know your thoughts @otbtweeter


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