Advertising and sponsorships are a great way to monetize a podcast. Learn how to get podcast sponsors and advertisers the right way without wasting time!
We have touched numerous topics related to podcasting in our previous posts. Let’s discuss the most common way of monetizing your content today – yes, you have guessed it right, that’s advertising and strategies how to get podcast advertisers and sponsors.
But what’s the big deal about advertising? Isn’t that what everyone does? In my opinion, just because a lot of people are doing something doesn’t make it easy or effective. Also, as many people are actually doing, there are many myths and misconceptions.
Let’s make podcast advertising work for you
So how do you develop a strategy that makes advertisements a lucrative source of passive income through your Podcast?
This growing figure holds the fascination of podcast advertisers who would be happy to pay you if you can help them reach their desired demographic.
According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PWC, podcasts ad revenue trend is on the rise. Podcast ad revenue was estimated to be $679 million in 2019. It is expected to climb up to $863 million in 2020 and over $1 billion by 2021.
Another good reason to celebrate and start monetizing your podcast with ads! Podcast network TWiT.tv makes millions in revenue, consistently since 2009. And there are many podcasts that make over $50,000 per month from advertising and sponsors.
All this creates a favorable situation where podcast sponsors and advertisers are ready for new business opportunities. All you need to do is have a good show that will attract listeners.
Who should monetize podcasts with advertisements?
Advertising is an excellent source of revenue for podcasters who are focused on creating podcasts and do not sell their own stuff through their episodes. They are free to pitch the products and services of someone else to their audience.
Nowadays, the consumer is surrounded by visual advertisements. And most internet-users skip the visual advertisements while watching videos. At the same time, podcasts are gaining the attention of advertisers. In fact, people often close videos if they don’t like it in just under a minute.
They can’t be easily skipped over, and most listeners wouldn’t mind listening to them either.
How effective is podcast advertising?
Generally, podcast audiences are in favor of ads on a podcast, and at least doesn’t consider those ads to be as intrusive as ads on other media.
According to Edison Research, among most engaged and passionate podcast listeners:
- 44% of people pay more attention to advertising on podcasts than on other media
- 37% agree that advertising on a podcast is the best way to reach them
- 70% have considered a new product or a service after hearing an ad on a podcast they regularly listen to
Ads are very effective, and listeners approve of ad messages. Also, due to the nature of podcast consumption, many ads are not skipped on podcasts as opposed to other media. This allows for engaging shows to be a very attractive medium for podcast sponsors and advertisers.
How Does Podcast Advertising Work?
Types of podcasting ads by the delivery mechanism
Before I discuss more, let me elaborate on a few podcast advertising terms that are critical to our discussion.
Podcast ads are of two kinds.
- Host-read, baked-in ads, which means that the host will read out the ad in the episode. Such ads would be forever there in the podcast unless you edit the audio file and replace it with your media host.
- Dynamically inserted, which means they are inserted via an ad-server from your media host or podcasting network. All users will not listen to the same advertisement when they download the podcast. Sometimes even people will get ad-free episodes if they listen from a region in which your advertisers do not wish to promote.
Some podcast sponsors will prefer only host-read ads and other work only in the dynamically inserted model. Additionally, many podcast advertisers will give you an exact copy of an ad you need to read, or an outline to follow, where you just add your own flavor.
Podcast Advertising Rates
For either type of advertisement, you can provide three types of ad placements in your podcast.
In all cases, you get paid for 1,000 ads delivered to your listeners, also known as CPM (Cost Per Mile). The industry standard rates paid by podcast advertisers are:
- Pre-roll ad – A 15 seconds ad that gets mentioned at the beginning of a podcast. It is usually priced at around $18 per 1000 downloads (CPM).
- Mid-roll ad – A 60 seconds long ad that will run somewhere in the middle of the episode. It can fetch you $25 per CPMs.
- Post-roll ad – A 30 seconds ad that will play at the end of the podcast. You can get $10 per CPMs from a post-roll ad.
Pre-roll and mid-roll placements are good when the advertisement is very short and concise. While mid-roll ads are ideal when the narrative is longer.
Especially for a baked-in ad, the mid-roll placement is preferred as the ad narrative can be easily blended into the fabric of the episode. Also, it is usually when the listener is hooked and listening closely, so the message tends to be more effective.
CPM in Podcasting is measured by downloads
It is not the number of impressions. The counting mechanism doesn’t check if a person has listened to an entire episode (or a significant percentage). Each download counts towards your CPM. It doesn’t matter if the episode was played at all.
This is a favorable situation for you and a certain risk for your podcast sponsors.
Real-Life Examples of Monthly Income from Podcast Ads
If you reach the important threshold of 10,000 downloads per month, how much will you earn with podcast ads?
It all depends on 3 factors:
- Episode CPM (which we calculate by adding the value of all your ad-placements)
- Number of episodes per month
- Number of downloads per episode
Monthly income = episodes CPM x number of episodes per month x number of downloads / 1000
This table shows an interesting thing.
- In Scenario A, we have the highest CPM for an episode at $78. This is achieved with 4 ads placements, so it means show needs to be reasonably long (around 45 minutes), to accommodate them and deliver overall good listening experience. This show is the lowest-earning show in our example, with only $1,560 monthly income from podcast advertisers.
- In Scenario C, we have the lowest CPM for an episode at only $25. But this uses only 1 ad placement, can be rather short (up to 15 minutes), but publishes 20 episodes per month. In this example, this show earns the most, $2,500 of monthly income.
- Show in Scenario B is between two previous examples. It has $43 CPM for an episode, and it earns $1,720 monthly from podcast sponsors. This is achieved with 2 ads placements, which means that a 30-minute episode can easily accommodate that. Being published 8 times per month, it is a moderately frequent publishing schedule.
In the end, you need to figure out what combination works best for you. Interview shows tend to last longer, and heavily researched solo shows often are short-form podcasts.
How many downloads can I reach?
A bit of research can help you understand where you stand in the podcasting world. Have a look at the figures for different podcasts. In fact, open up an excel sheet and type down some figures to review results specific to your niche.
Pick five new, five established, and five highly-popular podcasts. How many times have they been downloaded? Type that number in, and get an average value for each category. Now compare yourself with them. See where do you stand, and where do you want to go.
With my experience and review the average numbers of downloads per episode look like this:
- 2,000 downloads – this is usually the maximum for brand new or average shows. Someone will eventually listen, but the potential for growth is not tapped yet.
- 7,000 downloads – podcasts that stick to their publishing schedule and do a decent job in sound quality and content have the potential of reaching 7,000 downloads. Usually, a result of organic podcast growth.
- 15,000 downloads – this is the average of downloads per episode that good quality shows achieve. To increase those numbers, the creator would need to promote a podcast actively.
- 75,000 downloads – this is the group of podcasts that are doing really well. The average for this well-performing group is around 75,000 downloads per episode.
- 100,000 downloads and more – this is for hit shows that usually either have chosen a perfect idea at the right time or shows that have a proven track record of high-quality content delivery. Usually, those are shows 5+ years old.
Advertising is ultimately tied to the number of times your podcast episode is downloaded. Of course, a content-rich episode that connects with your listeners is the prime necessity.
And you need to be consistent in your podcasting efforts. Do not wait till the last moment to create an episode, work in advance so that timely release is ensured.
How to get sponsors for a podcast?
There are 4 ways how to get sponsors for a podcast. All of them can be equally effective in getting ads on your show. When you use intermediaries, of course, you need to share profit, but usually, this is the only way when your show is smaller.
As your show grows, you can look independently for a sponsor and get a better rate.
1. Join a podcast network
By joining a podcast network, it becomes easier to be seen by an advertiser. Big podcast advertisers, rather than spending time on locating a podcast that would be the right fit for their audience, would approach a podcast network where they get access to thousands of shows.
This way, you would be able to find a sponsor easily in the early stages of your growth. Your advertiser, through a network, gets access to multiple shows, and the podcast network gets a commission.
However, there might be some aspects of cooperation you might want to negotiate (like creative control). You need to read this post on how podcast networks work before joining one. In this post, we discuss many details, including the fact that you usually need to split revenue 70/30 with your ad network.
2. Get an offer from your media host
Bigger and more established podcast hosts provide the option of running advertisements to the podcasters registered with them.
For instance, Podbean has an ads marketplace that podcasters on Podbean can join for free. It is a platform for your podcast to get noticed by advertisers, and you will also get options to manage the ad campaign when you get selected for an ad. They also offer advice on topics like setting the ad slots in your podcast.
Other big podcast media hosts offering monetization with ads are BluBrry and Libsyn.
This is another easy way to get podcast sponsors and advertisers. The media host will be your intermediary, and you will share part of the revenue.
3. Get approached by a sponsor
While this may seem a bit far-fetched to a new podcaster, a podcaster with a strong listener’s base may be approached by a sponsor himself!
For instance, if you get picked up by Apple Podcast Algorithm and rank on their charts, or rank among the most popular podcast on any other platform, there are high chances of advertisers approaching you themselves.
Naturally, it is a passive way, and you have no guarantee someone will reach out to you as there are many popular shows now. It’s much better to approach a sponsor yourself.
To increase your chances ad contact info on your podcasting website. You can even create a special section named “For advertisers”.
4. Approach sponsors yourself
You can also take the first step and contact sponsors who fit your niche.
How to find an advertiser for a podcast:
- Listen to other podcasts in your niche and make a list of the companies placing ads in those podcasts.
- Similarly, go through blogs and social media posts in your niche and find out potential sponsors.
- Also, pick up magazines in your niche and scan them to find the companies that can be your sponsor.
The best way: podcasts are popular, but advertising on podcasts is not yet mainstream. To be successful and effective, reach out to brands that already spend money on podcast ads.
Very active podcast advertisers usually have contact info on their website. Send a semi-cold mail to their representatives. Look for contacts with marketing or PR representatives.
Highlighting your work, your audience demographics, and what can you do for them, to gain their attention. A small pitch deck may be helpful. You can show similar shows that use their ads to help your case.
How to pick the right sponsors for a podcast?
While advertising might seem like a lucrative idea to podcasters who are all geared to monetize their work, I would suggest them to hold their horses. What makes your podcast different from any other media is your one-to-one connection with your listeners.
If you have earned their trust, at any point, you should not break it.
Choose a sponsor that fits your niche.
The brand image or the product should not clash with what you are preaching on your podcast. For example, a podcast about the vegan lifestyle should not promote any brand that has been linked with clashes with this community either in the past or present. Understand your audience and your sponsors well before making any agreements.
Most brands should be aware of that and avoid advertising on shows that don’t reach their target audience. But since you take a reputational risk, always think about who you are accepting.
Don’t monetize with businesses that have a negative perception
Stay away from sponsorships related to casinos, payday loans, etc. as it could tarnish your image. And if you are going for dynamically inserted ads, make sure that they do not have negative connotations. You may discourage your listeners from listening to your show.
The success of podcast advertising hinges on the shoulder of the podcaster. The ads should sound like a genuine recommendation from you, rather than a forced sales pitch in return for some money. Listeners have an affinity with you, and you need to capitalize on it.
Stay below 10% of ads time per episode length
Lastly, while I have suggested you to provide multiple ad slots in your podcast, don’t overdo it. You need not flood your podcast with advertisements. For a 30-minute podcast, the total time devoted to advertisements should not exceed two to three minutes.
How to Increase your Income from Podcast Advertising?
I already mentioned what the formula for your podcast ad income is. It is:
Monthly income = episodes CPM x number of episodes per month x number of downloads / 1000
So in order to maximize podcast ad revenue, you can work on each component of the formula.
1. Increase the number of ad placements
- Longer episodes have more space for advertising. But that doesn’t mean you would rant about anything just to increase the episode length.
- If you are yet to launch your podcast, but you want to have a monetization strategy drafted, determine the length of episodes, and the intervals at which you can give ad slots to advertisers.
- Podcasters who have already released their episodes should gradually increase the length of their episodes. But don’t dramatically double the length. Increase it gradually, adding a couple of minutes for a period of time once you reach the desired target length.
- Finally, you can try to negotiate the length of an add and try to place a greater number of shorter ads in the same time slot.
2. Maximize CPM
- A small audience list means you would not be able to charge much for ad space. Work on increasing the number of downloads so that you can charge higher. Work on your podcast content share strategy.
- Explore the idea of host-read ads. Communicate to your advertiser that you will pitch their product without making it sound like an ad, and you are willing to do research for it and work on engagement with listeners. This will help you fetch a better price for your podcast.
3. Increase the number of episodes
- Refine content production technique – You can also increase your episode frequency to gain more popularity, and also to open up more ad slots.
- Hint – Think about doing an additional Q&A episode every week where you answer listeners’ questions. Gain additional points by live broadcasting.
4. Maximize the number of downloads
- Brand – Create a strong brand identity for a podcast in your niche and maintain a posting frequency. At the end of every episode, remind your audience to subscribe to your work. They will get an automatic update when you release your next episode.
- Quality and Engagement – The virtual world is flooded with content. Videos, blogs, and many new podcasters are joining the wagon. Yet, not all of this content offers any value to the listeners. Create podcasts that your audience will love, and would be happy to share with their friends. Share your podcast on social media handles, and ask your listeners for feedback to increase listeners’ engagement. Or incorporate their ideas in your episodes. Your listeners will be thrilled and hooked to your podcast when they hear their suggestions implemented in your episode (do give them credits in the beginning or at the end!)
- Presence – Your channel and social media alone won’t help you get the numbers that you want. Submitting the RSS feed for your podcast to a podcast directory can boost your visibility. Rather than relying on just one channel, maximize your presence on multiple directories like Apple Podcast, Google Play, Stitcher, Pandora, iHeartRadio, etc.
- Podcast SEO – Utilize Search Engine Optimization in your transcripts and episode titles to rank high in a search engine. If the name of your podcast comes up on the first page on a google search, you will surely get additional listeners. Use free tools, like Ubersuggest, that will help you find the right keywords. Also, you must have your own website to serve as a landing page for your listeners. Give them an option to subscribe to your work, know more about you and your past work.
- Email marketing – Creating an email list and sending newsletters to your audience can help you be on top of their mind. Make sure your newsletter is informative and engaging, pepper it with some extra info so that your audience looks forward to it.
Other required skills for Success in Podcast Advertising
Patience. One key point for new podcasters is that popularity takes time to build. Keep working patiently and consistently to make a name for yourself.
Marketing. Promote your show in every possible manner (we have discussed this in many previous marketing posts), as this would help you get more downloads.
Negotiation. Finally, brush up those negotiation skills, they are going to come in handy for convincing advertisers about the price tag for your ad slot.
What are the best alternatives to ads monetization?
For those podcasters who are not interested in podcast sponsors or advertising, or lack the long list of subscribers that advertisers demand, there are some alternatives for monetizing your podcast.
Provide exclusive content on Patreon
Patreon is a platform that connects content creators and artists with patrons. Your patrons would be your highly engaged listeners who are willing to pay a subscription fee in return for exclusive content that isn’t available anywhere else. It is a great option for podcasters with a limited audience base. Have a good podcast Patreon strategy to get most of this platform.
Sell own products
You can create your own merchandise or sell your own products through your podcasts. There are many services that will let you create customized T-shirts, mugs, etc. If you have products that you can sell, your listeners could well be your potential customers.
One of the highest margin products you can sell and promote through your podcasts are info products.
Podcast advertising is one of the most popular ways to monetize a show.
Ads revenue, number of listeners, awareness are all growing at a fast pace. This will be a profitable way for many years to come.
Podcast sponsors always look for high-quality shows working in profitable niches.
There are main 4 ways how to find a sponsor for a podcast. 2 passive and 2 active.
- Passive – get an offer from a media host or get approached by a sponsor,
- Active – join a podcasting ad network or search for sponsors yourself.
When using an intermediary (media host or network), it means you will need to share the revenue.
There are 3 types of ad placements: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. Mid-roll podcast ads are usually the longest and offer higher CPM rates, at an average of $25 CPM.
You get paid according to a number of downloads, and the formula for monthly income is straightforward.
Monthly income = episodes CPM x number of episodes per month x number of downloads / 1000
You can maximize your podcasting ad revenue by working on each component of this formula, and this includes also getting podcast sponsors who will pay more for access to your audience.