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As a brand marketer wanting to reach your target audience, there are many things you need to consider when you develop your marketing strategy. If you have identified that your audience are frequent podcast listeners, then this medium is a huge opportunity for you.
The podcast market has exploded in recent years and advertisers are flocking to it in droves. This doesn’t mean that it’s saturated – there is still a huge opportunity to reach your audience through podcasts.
But how do you identify which approach to audio is best? Should you be focussing on podcast advertising, sponsorship, or brand partnerships? Which will help you achieve your objectives?
Many brands have a limited budget and resources, and therefore it is not as simple as testing all three options and then continuing with the one that is most successful.
But don’t worry, as this blog is going to help you figure out which route will be the most effective for your business.
So, why podcasts?
Listening is powerful and can spark imagination: psychologists talk about audio as a medium that creates a theatre in the mind where the listener recreates the story visually while they listen to it. This means that they are very engaged with the content that they are listening to – not only because it feels like they have people telling them this story directly into their ears, but also because this is the content that they have chosen to listen to, at that exact moment in time.
And this is why it is so attractive to advertisers. Edison’s recent study into podcast Super Listeners found that 74% state that they have visited a company website following hearing an advertisement or sponsorship on a podcast that they regularly listen to. In a world where consumers are often being bombarded with marketing messages from brands on multiple devices at the same time, audio is a refreshing and valuable way to generate engagement and spark action from your audience.
But, how can you work out what the best approach is?
Firstly, what are you trying to achieve? Having clear objectives will enable you to determine the best channel to reach them. Advertising, sponsorship and partnerships will all be useful to raise brand awareness. But, if you are wanting to increase, say, brand engagement, salience or drive sales, then it might only be one of these which is most appropriate.
Who are you trying to talk to? Many audiences, particularly the younger generations, are very difficult to reach through traditional advertising channels. But, just because podcasts are a growing medium and hugely successful, that doesn’t guarantee that your audience will be listening to podcasts. So, take the time to ensure that your target audience does listen to podcasts and then you know that you are making the right decision.
Now, let’s look at the key differences between podcast advertising, sponsorships and partnerships to help you to determine which is the best option for your brand…
- Pure podcast advertising is best if it is part of a greater campaign for your brand. E.g. you already have an asset (30 sec advertisement) that you are using across other channels (such as radio). Buying media within podcasts extends your reach into your core audience, and reaching them via multiple channels will increase your opportunities of exposure and ultimately brand recall.
- One of the core benefits of podcasting is that consumers listen ‘on demand’ and therefore they are more likely to be engaged and responsive to your brand message. Within this medium, it’s possible to purchase media to a specific target audience or even buy advertising against particular shows (usually at a greater cost).
- Given 51% of podcast Super Listeners agree that they are more likely to respond to advertising messages within podcasts compared to other forms of media, this will be a valuable addition to your media plan.
- To ensure that you have a successful campaign, we would recommend that you don’t spend less than £10K to advertise in podcasts. This will give you in the region of 650K impressions against your target audience and you are more likely to be able to demonstrate a positive ROI.
- If you are lucky enough to be able to track your media channels through econometrics, then you will be able to see the direct benefit of adding podcasts as a channel.
- If you don’t, there are still ways to understand the impact of adding podcasts to the mix. Consider A/B testing where you literally have one week of podcast advertising, followed by one week of another channel and see which delivers the greatest uplift.
- Sponsoring a podcast is incredibly beneficial. NPR found that 75% of podcast listeners took action in response to a sponsored message on the shows they listen to, including brand messaging.
- A sponsorship usually includes host-read discussions about your product or service. The best ones are natural and delivered through the same style as the rest of the podcast. To ensure that this happens, ask yourself whether the hosts themselves are likely to be your customer? If so, then it will be much more believable that they are talking about your product. This brand fit is key – in fact, they can actually say ‘no’ to a sponsor of their show if they don’t think that it works for them either, so it becomes a two-way relationship. Given audiences are looking for authenticity, it’s really important that a sponsorship seems genuinely loved by the podcast’s host. The recent Super Listeners survey identified that 49% agree that the hosts are ‘actual’ users of the products or services that they are selling/talking about.
- If a single podcast helps you to reach the audience that you are targeting, then sponsorship is a great solution for you. The cost of sponsorship is determined by audience size so, chances are, if you are sponsoring a podcast in the Apple Charts, you need >£50K per month to sponsor it. But, if your budget is much smaller, there are some great podcasts that can achieve your bullseye target audience for a fraction of this cost. If you need more advice on this, reach out to our sales team (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they can help you to find the right fit for your audience.
- Once you have decided to sponsor a podcast (and they have agreed to your brand getting involved), you need to think about what your message is. For example, do you simply want to build brand awareness or do you want to drive sales? If it is the former, then think about how the hosts can talk about your brand in a really engaging way (e.g. if it is clothing, are there different occasions when they might be able to wear your clothing to help give them some inspiration?). What are your mandatories for them to include (e.g. brand name, website URL and strapline)? Include this information in a document for them to refer to.
- If you want to drive sales, a common way to do this is to share a unique code to make purchases via your website. Given 65% of the Super Listeners have said that they have gone on to purchase a product following hearing a sponsorship or advertising message on a podcast, this is a fantastic opportunity to help drive consumers further into the sales funnel.
- There are two types of partnerships that you might consider for your brand. The first is effectively a higher level of sponsorship, including co-branding on artwork, website banners etc.
- The other type of partnership and the one we are going to focus on is the creation of branded content for your audience. This is primarily used as a tool to improve brand salience, effectively keeping your brand front of mind for your audience. It can also be used to reach a new audience for your brand – especially an audience who are less likely to be wooed by traditional advertising or communications. If you would like to know more about branded podcasts, check out our blog post: An Introduction to Branded Podcasts
- In the last 3 years, the creation of content by brands has risen exponentially. There were as many as 8,000 active branded podcast feeds available through Apple Podcasts in 2021 alone. This is largely due to the fact that “Businesses that invest in a branded podcast can see a considerable uplift in engagement, brand awareness (89%), brand favourability (24%), and even purchase intent (14%) compared to other channels such as video or blogging” as stated in a study by the BBC.
- The branded content which you create is effectively a much softer brand building tool. You can use it to:
- Improve brand perceptions
- Build brand awareness amongst your target audience
You should now understand the key differences between podcast advertising, sponsorships and partnerships.