How Local Brands Can Leverage Podcast Advertising

Podcasting is one of the fastest-growing mediums in advertising, especially within the audio category. There are more listeners than ever, more content available, high engagement, and flexible ad formats out there.

As a business owner, you have to understand how your brand can use podcast ad placements in your marketing strategy.

  • Advertising on podcasts is a no-brainer for national advertisers.
  • For local businesses, though, effectively scaling local ad buys with optimal formats is more challenging. The audience is fragmented across various podcasts and networks. Let’s dig into how to navigate the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision for your business.

 

a chart showing the average time spent per day with podcasts

 

Benefits of Podcast Advertising for Local Businesses

Podcasting offers specific advantages for local businesses seeking to connect with their audience.

Targeted Audience

Many podcasts cater to niche topics or interests.  Local businesses can pick and choose which podcasts align with their audience to effectively target their advertising. The audience will be more relevant and more engaged. This often leads to higher conversion rates than generalized advertising.

Personal Touch

Podcast hosts add a personal and authentic touch to ads. The messaging feels less like a traditional advertisement and more like a recommendation from a friend. People are much more likely to believe a message coming from a trusted source than they are from the business itself. This ad format helps local businesses build trust within their community.

Audience Loyalty

Podcast audiences often develop a sense of loyalty to their favorite shows and hosts. Advertising on these platforms can transfer some of this loyalty to your local business.

Integration Opportunities

Some podcasts offer opportunities for deeper integration, as well. Options include sponsored episodes or sponsored segments, which can provide more context and engagement for your business.

 

Cons of Podcast Advertising for Local Businesses

There are also challenges to consider before diving into podcast advertising.

Limited Reach

If a podcast isn’t popular in your local area, your advertising reach may be limited. Especially compared to other local marketing channels.

Measurement Challenges

Tracking the direct impact of podcast ads can be difficult. Most analytics offer limited insight beyond downloads and listens, which makes it hard to measure ROI.

Cost Variability

Costs can vary widely based on the specific podcast’s popularity and the type of advertising package. For local businesses, this might mean negotiating directly with podcast creators, which can be time-consuming and unpredictable.

Production Quality

High-quality ad production can be costly. It can be especially challenging for local businesses that don’t have access to professional recording equipment or voice talent.

 

A podcast host completes a live read advertisement

 

Considerations for Ad Types and Platforms

Selecting the right ad types and platforms is key to maximize the impact of your podcast advertising efforts.

Self-Serve Platforms vs. Managed Service Programs

  • Self-serve platforms can be more budget-friendly. They also offer more control over your campaigns, which is ideal for smaller local businesses.
  • Managed services provide a hands-off approach, but that typically means a higher cost.

Ad Format

Consider whether a pre-recorded spot, a host-read ad, or an integrated content piece makes the most sense for your brand and budget.

Live Reads

Live reads are sponsorships or endorsements from hosts. They can be read live or recorded to sound live and then inserted into a podcast. 

These endorsements are coming from hosts who the audience trusts, so live reads are the most effective (performance) use of the medium. The ads feel organic, authentic, and engaging. However, it can be tough to scale locally. It’s also usually the most expensive option.

Dynamic Ad Insertion in Podcasts

Dynamic ads are ad spots that are inserted into podcasts via ad servers or networks. This is the best approach for local insertion. It’s the most scalable and the most CPM-conscious for local businesses. Dynamic ads also leverage more advanced data and make it easier to reach a specific target audience.

Talent-Produced Reads

Talent-produced reads are recorded to sound live. They can be dynamically inserted into that host’s show, or even another relevant shows 

 

Scalability and Cost-Efficiencies

Scalability

Podcast advertising can be effective, but the ability to scale in a single market may be limited. Diversifying your advertising across multiple podcasts can help, but it might dilute the local focus.

Cost-Efficiencies

Start with smaller, local podcasts to test the waters without a significant investment. Measure performance closely to understand which types of ads and messaging resonate best with your target market.

 

an infographic showing the measurement tools for podcast advertising

 

Measuring Podcast Advertising Success

You must track the success of podcast ads to understand their return on investment (ROI). From there you can refine future strategies. Measuring the direct impact of podcast can be difficult, but here are some effective strategies:

  • Promo Codes: Utilize unique promo codes in your ads for tracking conversions directly from listeners.
  • Unique URLs: Lead listeners to campaign-specific landing pages to measure web traffic and actions tied to your ads.
  • Surveys: Ask customers how they discovered your business during sign-up or purchase, noting podcast ads as an option.
  • Brand Awareness: Monitor increases in brand-related search traffic post-campaign as an indicator of heightened interest.
  • Social Media Engagement: Check for spikes in social media activity if your ad involves social calls to action.
  • Podcast Metrics: Request download and listener data from podcasters or platforms to assess reach and audience engagement.

Considerations

  • Patience is key. Initial metrics may be modest, but it often takes time to see results. Podcast ads tend to increase brand awareness and engagement over time.
  • Use an integrated strategy. Evaluate podcast ads’ effectiveness within your larger marketing efforts, considering both immediate and long-term brand benefits.

 

a chart that shows podcast listener penetration by age

 

Is Podcast Advertising for Me?

Ultimately, it comes down to your business goals and KPIs. Generally speaking, podcast advertising is a highly valuable brand-building tool. It can also lead to a direct response if executed correctly. But it can be difficult to effectively scale at the local level.

What are your objectives?

  • If you are looking for a modest boost in existing markets, podcast advertising is very effective at the local level. 
  • If you need mass reach to dramatically increase your awareness and revenue, podcast advertising might not be the answer. It can be a lot of work relative to the volume lift to your business. 

Who is your target audience?

  • Podcast advertising can be a good choice if it aligns with your target audience and marketing strategy. It’s relatively easy to reach a loyal fanbase and build a relationship.
  • It’s not for everyone, though. For example, maybe your target audience does not listen to podcasts. Or maybe your product can’t be easily explained to an audience on audio-based advertising.

Are your goals direct response or branding?

Podcasting can be effective for both direct response (DR) and branding goals. As always, it depends on the specific campaign objectives and targeting strategies.

  • For direct response campaigns, podcast advertising can effectively drive specific actions such as product purchases, sign-ups, or downloads. As mentioned earlier, podcasts often have highly-engaged and loyal audiences. That loyalty often leads to higher conversion rates and a strong ROI for DR campaigns. The highly-personalized aspect of podcast advertising also allows advertisers to reach specific audiences with relevant messaging and CTAs.
  • Podcast advertising can also be effective for branding campaigns. Podcast advertising can showcase brand personality and values through host-read sponsorships, branded content, or sponsor mentions. This creates an emotional connection with the audience and build brand awareness and affinity over time. The downfall is that it can be tricky to track and often takes time and patience.

 

Where to Start

If you do decide to test the waters of podcast advertising, there are a few ways to go about it.

  • Partner with a full-service marketing agency. An agency can help you appropriately negotiate, plan, and strategize your campaign. They have experience, and they can also procure podcast advertising on your behalf.
  • Take advantage of self-serve opportunities. There are self-serve opportunities within Spotify that are relatively easy entry-points. The downfall is that they lack some of the sophistication of measurement. They also don’t allow thoughtful negotiation or native alignment with individual shows via sponsorship.

 

Conclusion

Podcast advertising offers  a unique opportunity to connect with an audience on a personal and engaging level. Fanbases are often loyal to their podcasts, creating a sense of trust and authenticity.

You can also target really specific audiences based on the show or podcast episode. There are various ad types you can utilize based on your goals and budget. Thus, podcast advertising stands out as a highly-effective marketing tool for local businesses.

However, it’s crucial to approach this medium with a clear understanding of its benefits and challenges. And it might not be for you and your small business. Make sure to consider reach, cost, and scalability in your decision-making, as well.

If you do decide to embrace podcast advertising, keep these tips in mind. Start small, measure your results, and optimize your strategy to harness the full potential of podcast advertising. By carefully selecting the right podcasts, ad formats, and measurement strategy, your business can maximize the impact.

With patience, creativity, and a strategy, podcast advertising can be an invaluable tool in achieving your marketing objectives and driving growth at the local level.

 

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