Podcast pundit and PR Account Executive Andrew Rowley, discusses why brands should consider podcast advertising and how to keep the audience interested.
Podcasts are a major part of my everyday routine. On average, I consume between five to ten episodes of podcasts a week, with a wide range of subject matter ranging from fictional, storytelling podcasts to factual, news and current events shows. That’s hours and hours of content to keep me sane while I spend hours and hours on public transport.
With this prolonged exposure and experience of podcasts, it also means I’ve heard a lot of adverts. With a lot of the content I listen to, adverts are included to keep every episode free, which is perfect for someone like myself who will binge episodes with no cost whatsoever. I’ve accepted ads as part of the package. I can deal with that.
However, one thing I can’t deal with is when a bland (and, frankly, boring) advert puts a damper on the listening experience. Like television, some podcasts have adverts throughout the duration of the episode, so more often than not the main action will be interrupted by an advert. Unlike TV, listeners have the power to skip the ads – so if they don’t have a reason to listen, they won’t.
In essence, brands should approach podcast advertising in a similar way to standard advertising: with creativity leading the way to ensure people engage. However, being a platform that is still growing in popularity, placing adverts on popular podcasts is still a grey area for some brands. With this in mind, here are some things you should consider when moving into the podcast market.
What’s your sound?
Success lies in thinking about how you want your brand to sound. As a recent Campaign Live article put it “we can all instantly recognise McDonald’s’ “I’m lovin’ it” song, Intel’s four note theme, and M&S’s seductive tones to their owners – but could you begin to describe what David Lloyd or TM Lewin sounds like?”. It’s a valid point.
You probably already know how your brand looks. But if you’re considering moving into the podcast advertising market, (and you should – the number of UK listeners has risen in the past year) you have to think about how your brand will convert to an audio platform, particularly because the hosts will be responsible for delivering your message. Unlike radio, the hosts will more often than not perform the advert so you need to think about how you want others to talk about your brand. What words do you want them to use to describe it? What tones do you want to be associated with it? What form do you want it to be e.g. light hearted but genuine testimonial, short skit, little jingle?
Of course, it depends on what your brand or product is as to where you want your content to go. There are a lot of podcasts out there, so you need to think about placing your advert where it won’t fall on deaf ears. For me, when I’m listening to a True Crime podcast that’s interrupted to tell me about a sale on orthopedic mattresses, well, it takes me out of it. Yeah, I get it, everyone needs a mattress and I can get one at a great price, but I also want to know what happened next so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to skip this bit.
But, if my binge is being interrupted to tell me about a game like Hunt a Killer, where I can join hundreds of others in solving clues and unmasking a fictional serial killers, I’m actually going to look that up when the episode ends.
Like any kind of advertising or marketing, the key is knowing your audience and catching them where they’re going to be interested and when they have time to listen. Listeners tend to engage with podcasts in the same way as a TV show or a book, because they enjoy it. So, make it worth their while.
Regardless of where your advert is placed, there’s no reason to curb your creativity. If a listener is going to be interrupted to hear about your brand, make it worth their while. As stated earlier, you can’t rely on visuals so you have to force the audience to picture the product through sound. Allow the podcast hosts, who are usually popular with their audiences, to put a spin on it that delivers the key message in your tone, but also fits seamlessly with their podcast. A great example of this comes from an American show I listen to called The NoSleep Podcast. It’s a horror fiction podcast that begins with an advert, but each one is presented to the audience in the same format as the stories, so sometimes you’re not aware until a minute or so in that you’re actually listening to an advert for Blue Apron and not hearing a story about a ravenous beast who will stop at nothing to find the perfect meal wherever that may be….
Here’s my point: approach podcast advertising as you would TV or magazine advertising, by choosing the right audience and giving them a reason to listen to your advert. Make them interested in your brand through creative copy and discovering your sound. And trust the podcaster makers: they know their audience, they know what their audience responds best to. Just make sure it’s creative and easy to listen to.
Photo by Kaboompics // Karolina from Pexels