If you haven't started paying attention to the world of podcasting, now is the time to start. The medium has existed since around 2004 back in the early days of the iPod. It took until about 2014 for podcasting to enter the national conversation, with the boom being accredited to the runaway success of the true crime podcast Serial. It's continued to mature, with experimentation with release schedules and methods, show formats, and show subjects. It's also continued to grow, becoming more popular than ever with 44 percent of the United States population having listened to a podcast and with over $220 million dollars a year spent on podcast advertising.
But before we dive into why you as a business should advertise on podcasts, let's start with the basics and explain what a podcast is. A podcast is essentially a radio show, just available on your phone rather than terrestrial radio. They can be just about anything: in-depth sports analysis, comedic film discussions, scripted post-apocalyptic dramas, news, or even musicals. They're a space for people to be creative and try new things or sometimes just an avenue for discussion. There's a mix of professional, network-funded podcasts, celebrity hosted podcasts, and amateur podcasts, especially since podcasts are relatively easy to make (though a bit harder to make well). They're typically free to listen to, but there are some services like Stitcher Premium that create exclusive podcasts hidden behind a pay wall. Podcasts can be incredibly niche; if there's something you think of, there's probably a podcast that exists that talks about it. Don't believe me? There's a popular podcast called Britney's Gram, which is exclusively about Britney Spears's Instagram posts.
The incredibly niche nature of some podcasts is GREAT news, especially for marketers! Not only are listeners wanting to hear the super specific things they are interested in talked about, marketers can provide highly targeted ads that will reach the right person and if done right (which YOU KNOW means using an inbound approach), can feel unintrusive and meet people where they already comfortable are. Now let's get specific and take a look at some marketing benefits for podcasts.
Podcast listeners are incredibly loyal to the shows that they listen to. If they like a show, they'll subscribe and listen to every episode. According to Wired, listeners are listening to 90 percent of every episode they download, which is incredible! Podcast listeners are also likely to join fan communities and Facebook groups to discuss latest episodes and tangential topics, as well as donate to Patreons or giving drives that support the podcast. The good news for you is that the audience is there, they're going to be sticking around, and they're paying attention.
Willingness to Listen to Ads
This is the whammy. Believe it or not, podcast listeners listen to the ads! (I'll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor). The key here is that podcast listeners listen to ads when they feel like they're a part of the show. I know it can be scary as a brand to have people say whatever they want during an ad read for your product, but it works. It feels more natural and is a heck of a lot more fun. If it's a comedic podcast, you won't want the ad to feel like a fun-sucking hole in the middle of the show. You want your content to be unintrusive and remarkable. Allowing the hosts to give their own spin on an ad read makes the content fresh and unique each time, and also makes it feel like a natural part of the show. According to a Wired article, when the podcast Hollywood Handbook moved its back catalogue of episodes to the premium podcast service Stitcher Premium and removed the ads from the episodes, fans of the show actually complained! They loved how the hosts approached the ads and felt like they were missing out on good jokes with the ads being cut out.
Podcast Hosts are Trusted Influencers
If you're going to advertise on a podcast, if at all possible, give the hosts a chance to try your products or services. The hosts of their favorite shows are trusted influencers for those listening. With Influencer marketing continuing to grow, why not use podcast hosts you know listeners trust? Listeners will listen to around an hour (sometimes even more) of the hosts speaking each week and start feeling like they know the hosts and see them as trusted sources and as somebody that could be their friend if they knew each other in real life. Because of this, listeners will trust if the hosts say they enjoy something! Listeners sign up for subscription boxes, get new mattresses, and try out new underwear all based on hosts raving about it during the ad section of their show.
You've Convinced Me! Now What?
Now is the time for you to decide what show you want to advertise on, but I implore you to make sure that it's one that fits your brand. Don't just go after the show that is number one on the podcast charts that week. If a podcast focuses on the best in fast food, you probably shouldn't market your healthy diet food service on that show. Don't market your new comedy film on a true crime podcast. It's probably not a good move to advertise your nerdy pop culture subscription box on a sports analysis podcast. Make sure your brand fits what the show is. Luckily for you, there's a show for everything which means your ad can hit exactly where you want it to hit...as long as you do some research into what's out there in Podcastland.
Want to hear how we approach podcasting? Then listen to Don't F**k it Up with Don Crow. You can also keep up with our latest episodes, blog posts, and news by signing up for our newsletter.