Five reasons brands should advertise on podcasts (and three reasons not to)

Ok, first things first. Full disclosure, Be Heard Technology’s mission is connecting podcasts with brands. So we are a bit biased about the advantages of companies advertising on podcasts. But, if we didn’t fully believe it’s a great idea and provides value, for the brand, podcaster and listener, we wouldn’t have created Be Heard to begin with.

With that intro out of the way, back to the point of the article.

For the tl;dr summary, let’s start with the lists:

What do podcasts provide that other media doesn’t?

  1. Engaged audiences (giving back)

  2. Influencer marketing & Brand building

  3. They get heard

  4. Niche targeted audiences

  5. Affordable

Difficulties with podcast advertising

  1. Hard to analyze ROI

  2. Hard to track reach

  3. Fractured market

Podcast benefits

1) Engaged audiences (giving back)

Podcasts are sticky. Listeners tend to have their favorites listens and come back to the podcast because they enjoy the hosts. Unlike written text of websites, spoken word of podcasts creates a more personal relationship as listeners learn more context about the hosts during the show.

This personal relationship allows ad reads to become part of the show and not as intrusive as web banners that live in their own real estate on a web page. As a result, audience engagement to podcast advertisements is significantly higher than typical digital ads. In addition, the personal relationship means listeners are more likely to want to establish it as ‘two sided’ and give back to their hosts by engaging with the podcast sponsors.

2) Influencer marketing & Brand building

Along the same lines of relationship building and engaged audiences, podcasts are an easy way for brands to tap into influencer marketing. Many podcast hosts insist on trying out their sponsor’s product or service. This allows them to provide their unique experience and views with the ad read. Rather than the advertisement just being a commercial, it becomes part of the podcast and listeners are more likely to remember the brand and connect it with the host.

3) They get heard

Unlike banner ads and video pre-rolls, podcast adverts actually get listened to. If you are listening to a podcast in the car, jogging or around the house, it’s not always feasible to skip an ad. For brands, this means their message gets across to a large percentage of audiences.

4) Niche targeted audiences

Similar to industry specific websites, there are plenty of podcasts focused on specific niches. So if you are a craft beer company in Portland, you can find a Portland Blazers podcast that provides a targeted audience for product. Selling sophisticated camera lenses, there are plenty of photography podcasts that hosts are always interested in partnering with innovative technology to share with their audience.

5) Affordable

Although being around for a number of years, the podcast industry is still in its high growth stage and very few companies are committing funds to advertising on the medium. The result is that the economics favor advertisers as supply is greater than demand.

This doesn’t mean that advertising on any popular podcast is cheap. Quite the opposite, a lot of the money flowing into the industry is focused on a small set of mainstream podcasts with large followings that often have $10,000 minimum spends and six month waiting lists to market on. However, this large concentration of where advertiser money is going to means there are plenty of affordable options when partnering with the other 95% of podcasts.

Difficulties with podcast advertising

Ok, now to downside. While these negatives don’t affect everyone, they are a hurdle to consider for any large digital markets that focus on analytics.

1) Hard to analyze ROI


The advantage of PPC and banner ads is that you can track clicks, sign ups and client conversions easily. This makes it convenient to calculate acquisitions costs and quickly gauge whether an online campaign is working. This isn’t the case for podcasts.

Podcast adverts will use promo codes or specific URLs to track podcast listener conversions. But conversion figures are lower than they actually are as a listener may remember the brand they heard about in their commute but not the promo code. But, there are some tricks you can use such as adding a ‘how did you hear about us’ line on sign up forms. (The Ahrefs blog has a great write up on the ROI problem and gauging reach here Podcast Advertising: $51,975 Spent. Here’s What We Learned)

2) Hard to track reach

Reach is also very difficult. Podcasts stats are based on tracking downloads combined with geographical stats. But, these are statistics that the podcast host has access to and not 3rd party firms. For advertisers, it means taking a leap of faith with numbers a podcast provides and using them as a basic for tracking reach.

You can also cross reference stats from a podcast by reviewing tracking social mentions after your advertisement was read.

3) Fractured market

Ugh, this is probably the biggest problem facing the podcast industry. This is the reality of podcasting. There are numerous places where podcasts are hosted. Listening to them is dominating by iTunes, but there are lots of players such as Spotify and Stitcher with large user bases. Podcasts themselves count in the hundreds of thousands.

The result is no one controls anything and there is no centralized point for listeners statistics like you have for webpages.

For advertisers, it means you can either approach podcasts yourself and ask for their stats and work out campaigns specific to your needs. Alternatively there are a few networks such as Gimlet Media and The Ringer that provide a single point of contact to advertise across many podcasts and audience reach. The downside with the networks is that they focus on general audience podcasts and aren’t a fit for products that need a niche or local audience.

This problem is the reason Be Heard Technology was created. More on more on what we do here and solving podcast advertising problems here.

Bottom line - Podcast advertising has lots of benefits and should be part of any companies digital marketing budget. But, knowing its negatives will help companies best create the best campaigns to succeed with podcasts.