Sr. Marketing Manager

Podcast Marketing & Measurement: Setting the Stage for Future Success

The April episode of The Why Behind The Buy, a podcast for marketers focused on finding and targeting their ideal customers at scale, went live on April 15th. You can find the episode, here. During the recording, I had the chance to talk to one of our in-house podcast marketing experts, Omer Jilani and Dana Elmquist, Vice President of Enterprise Business Development at Market Enginuity who specialize in sponsorship sales for mission-driven media, about growing opportunities with podcast advertising. We covered topics from the history of how the podcast industry started to what the typical podcast listener “looks” like, plus challenges podcasters and advertisers face with finding the right sponsors and sponsorship opportunities and what the future offers in terms of revenue for podcast marketers. But, while you’ll hear all about those topics and more when you listen to the episode, 30 minutes just wasn’t enough to discuss everything. Because of this, we took some of the conversation offline and put it in this blog, so you can get the full story on Podcast Marketing & Measurement: Setting the Stage for Future Success.

Is Advertising via a Podcast “Worth It”?

Market Enginuity is the largest public media sponsorship sales force in the U.S., representing local and national sponsorships for clients, but even as recent as six years ago they questioned whether podcasts offered a viable business opportunity. Some of the most popular podcasts at the time were coming from companies that were historically rooted in radio, but they weren’t sure how to represent themselves or how to add advertisers into the mix. However, podcasts quickly became a younger demographic’s new form of radio, where they could access on demand content. Dana mentioned that the Edison research numbers, which those in the industry consider to be the “Superbowl of podcasting,” report that over 1/5 of Americans age 12 and older are listening weekly to podcasts, and all of this is happening in an almost purely organic way. That last point is both a positive and a negative. On one hand, the podcast industry is disintermediated meaning creators just create content and users can find them without tastemakers or large corporations essentially telling them who the next big star will be. On the other hand, from a buyer’s perspective, finding enough scale to turn a profit from your advertising efforts can be a challenge because you have to buy across several networks or across 10 to 20 different shows. It takes a more enterprising advertiser to find success when you have to rifle through the current count of 900,000 podcasts to find the ones that resonate with your brand and your end consumer.

The Power of Host Led Spots

The types of opportunities that tend to see the highest return for advertisers are host led spots. This is where the host of the podcast promotes a brand’s product or service, instead of an actor or brand representative. It’s a new way to commercialize yourself because you have to let the host be themselves within the creative framework, in comparison to a tv commercial where there is a carefully crafted script for actors to follow on a big budget set. That just isn’t how podcast marketing works. Some industries are heavily regulated and giving up this kind of control is hard to do, but for those that let hosts who already have a connection with their audience have more creative freedom to promote on a brand’s behalf, the end results can be very powerful.

Direct-to-consumer brands were early adopters to marketing themselves on podcasts, but we’re now seeing a shift into blue chip brands, which elevates the listening experience, because they’re known brands who “speak” to consumers. For example, many blue chip financial consultants are using audience-based targeting. Instead of targeting on a thematic or category of podcasts, they’re seeing incremental lift by finding high net worth clients to target via podcasts. The podcast ecosystem can be more costly from a CPM standpoint, but marketers are starting to see the return on ad spend as they funnel more dollars into this channel.

The Ever-Changing Conversation

Claritas’ own Omer Jilani has been to several industry conferences in the past few years and he’s noticed the conversation changes year after year. Last year the hot topic was “how can advertisers effectively measure downloads and track podcasts?” This year the conversation has been all about enhanced capabilities around ad attribution. Marketers are often still quick to use vanity URLs to promote their product or service on a podcast. The problem is, if it’s not a well-known brand, most listeners will forget the vanity URL link as soon as they hear it, or they’ll just go to that brand’s website and purchase directly from there. So how do marketers know if their advertising is paying off? That’s when an identity graph becomes critical, because you can match an exposure to a conversion for proper attribution. As for next year, what will the conversation hold? Hard to tell, but with a potential $1B in ad revenue to be had, brands not currently investing in podcast marketing should rethink their strategy.

We hope if you’re considering adding podcasts to your marketing mix that April’s episode of The Why Behind The Buy helps answer any questions you have about how to be successful in this growing industry.

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