The Value of Podcast Advertising After the Decline of Radio

How effective podcast advertising can deliver a receptive audience to all kinds of businesses with podcast advertising and measurable returns.

Even though historians may refer to the 1930s as radio’s golden age, the audio device remained important through the rise of TV and even the introduction of the internet. Most recently though, radio use has declined into a media that many people only use in their cars or keep in their emergency kit in case of a storm.

Radio Ink cited one survey that found about 96 percent of Americans still had a radio at home in 2008 but only about two-thirds do today. Still, another form of audio media — the podcast — has grown rapidly in recent years and may provide an alternative source of advertising for savvy content marketers.

Does podcast advertising offer a good alternative to radio advertising?

Perhaps because of the decline of the overall radio audience, many marketers actually have explored podcast ads as an alternative to radio spots. They might consider podcasts as either a replacement for or supplement to radio ads.

According to Marketing Dive:

  • With over half-a-million podcasts to choose from, a podcast marketing agency should have no trouble finding the right topic and niche audience for almost any advertiser.
  • Over 70 million Americans say they regularly listen to podcasts, and industry watchers believe the audience will increase 81 percent within a couple of years.
  • During 2020, financial analysts expect podcast advertising budgets to top $650 million, representing a $250 million increase over 2018.

Can a podcast marketing agency use podcasts effectively?

Not matter how large and engaged the audience, marketing effectively still requires skill and familiarity with the medium. To understand how a content marketing agency can make the best use of their ad budget, it will help to understand why podcast advertising works well. And even though ads may help attract an audience, marketers still need to ensure they’re worth the investment by finding ways to track their returns.

On Bigeye’s podcast, In Clear Focus, we discuss podcast advertising with Stephen Pickens, Director of Sales for AdvertiseCase. “I like to think of podcast advertising as word-of-mouth marketing, but at scale. So if you have a friend that recommends you try a particular product or service, it comes with a level of authenticity because you trust them. And it’s really similar to podcast advertising in that way because the shows that I listen to, I really trust the hosts. When they take some time out of their show to explain a product to me and ultimately endorse it, it comes with a tremendous amount of weight.”

Why podcast advertising can work

For one thing, ads tend to annoy internet users and even radio listeners and TV watchers. Lots of people install ad blockers on their computer browsers and even buy TVs that have similar features built in. In contrast, CNBC found that 78 percent of podcast users don’t mind hearing ads from sponsors.

When it comes to their favorite podcasts, listeners appear to understand that the sponsors fund the content, which they’re less inclined to consider when their favorite programming gets interrupted by ads on other types of media. In fact, some studies found that over 60 percent of listeners not only remembered podcast sponsors but actually made purchases from them. That makes this medium look like a dream for a podcast marketing agency!

Measuring ROI for podcast marketing

Of course, podcast formats can vary. Typically, they have advertising slots at the beginning, middle, and end of the broadcast. Very often, the host will read the ads, which can help blend them very well with the rest of the program. On the other hand, simply having a marketing message read makes it tough for sponsors to determine exactly how the audience reacted.

These three tactics can help the advertisers measure the effectiveness and returns of their sponsorship:

  • Offer a special promo code for each ad. If a customer enters the promo code to make a purchase, the business can trace it back to a specific spot.
  • Businesses can create unique URLs for the advertisement, and if they sponsor one podcast often, they may even include the broadcaster’s name in the internet address to enhance the connection with customers.
  • A company might also provide customers with checkout surveys that ask how they learned about the business or the specific offer.

Traditional TV and radio advertisers use similar tactics to these to help measure returns from their marketing. None of them works as well as the sort of detailed analytics that purely digital advertising can produce, but they should offer enough information to give businesses a good idea of their campaign’s performance.

As a note, these ways to measure responses will mostly only work for direct response ads. Marketers may have other goals, such as improve brand awareness. Sponsors may get a rough idea of how much a spot improved brand awareness by measuring activity on their website or social sites.

In fact, Marketing Dive reported that direct response spots make up about two out of three podcast ads, with brand awareness efforts taking up about one out of four. This may say more about the difficulty of measuring returns than the effectiveness of brand awareness ads on podcasts.

Why should a content marketing agency consider podcast ads?

Lots of people say they enjoy podcasts because they can listen to a program while doing other things. Similar to radio, podcast fans can listen on their smart phones while they commute, cook dinner, or even work. Because the barrier to entry into podcast publishing is much lower than for producing radio shows, audiences also have a big variety of programs to choose from, so almost everybody can find something of interest. For a number of reasons, podcasts keep increasing in popularity and can provide a great form of media for marketing.

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