Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular as an advertising vehicle. Listener numbers are increasing and successful podcasts have caught the attention of marketers. So, what can this medium offer to businesses?

Everything You Need to Know about Podcast Advertising

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In this guide, you’ll learn about the benefits of podcast advertising. We’ll discuss how podcast advertising works, including the industry standards in terms of ad placement, length and pricing. Furthermore, we’ll give you tips on how to find podcasts as an advertiser, and we’ll explain how you can acquire advertising if you are producing a podcast. Finally, we’ll give you tips on what makes a great podcast ad to ensure your advertising success.


To understand podcast advertising, you need to understand what podcasts are.  The Oxford Dictionary defines a podcast as:

A digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or a mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

The digital advertising industry has become an increasingly diverse and competitive place. Today’s businesses can’t rely purely on traditional advertising methods, but must pay attention to new channels. Podcast advertising is definitely among the best digital advertising alternatives and could prove to be a useful tool for many businesses.

First, the industry provides businesses the opportunity to reach a fast-growing audience. According to data, the proportion of Americans listening to a podcast almost doubled from 2008 to 2015. In 2008, around 9% of Americans tuned in to listen to podcasts, but by 2015, the audience number had grown to 17% and the trend is clearly an upward trend.

Successful podcast shows can also attract impressive listener numbers. In 2014, a podcast about a reinvestigation of a murder case called Serial became the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads on iTunes. Edison Research also found the average podcast listener listens to about six podcast shows a week, so the audience isn’t just interested in a single show. In fact, Americans listen to around 21.1 million hours of podcasts every day.

In terms of business opportunities, the research also found podcast audiences to be affluent, with the average household income reaching $75,000 or more in 2015. This could be great news for advertisers, as listeners might have higher willingness to spend money on interesting products. Furthermore, podcast users are active on social media, which could be used as a marketing advantage.

Second, podcast audiences tend to be dedicated and find the show’s hosts trustworthy and relatable. Unlike radio listeners, who often skip ads by changing the channel, podcast listeners tend to listen through ads. The secret often lies in the way podcast ads (the good ones!) relate directly to the content of the show and therefore, add another dimension for the listener. Podcast advertising is often more about the host’s endorsement of the product rather than being a filler for the show.

According to Midroll, the digital media company, 63% of their podcast listeners have purchased a product, which was advertised on a podcast. Furthermore, around 71% of the listeners visited the advertiser’s website. This is encouraging news for businesses planning to venture into the world of podcasting, especially as the banner blindness phenomenon means Internet users are tuning out of traditional website banners.

Furthermore, businesses shouldn’t only be interested in podcast advertising as the advertiser. An entrepreneur or a business could potentially benefit from hosting their own podcast, with ads adding additional revenue to your podcasting venture. By improving your podcast, you can obtain more listeners and attract advertisers, which all will lead to an increased revenue stream.

Overall, the podcast advertising industry is growing rapidly. According to eMarketer’s data, the US podcast advertising spending (advertising and sponsorship) stood at $165 million in 2007. By 2012, predicted growth was thought to stand at $435 million. The opportunities in the sector are rapidly increasing and early adopters can expect to benefit from the continued growth of the medium.


Podcasts are another digital medium for sharing information, news and ideas in a more social media type of environment. The content of today’s podcasts ranges from film and music to business and education. Anyone can create a podcast – you simply need a computer and audio content – which means businesses are sure to find a podcast show related to their product or service.

The premise of podcast advertising is similar to any other advertising on websites or even radio. A business will create an ad, which the podcast host plays during the recording.

Before we look at the industry standards for podcast advertising in terms of length and the number of ads, it’s important to understand who has the power of choosing the ads. In fact, podcast hosts shouldn’t simply accept any ad offers nor should businesses target podcast hosts randomly. Instead, podcast ads should be directly related to the content or at least offer something to the particular listener group. Therefore, the power to choose which ads are suitable often lies in the hands of the host. If you are approaching a podcast host as a business, this is vital information to understand. Furthermore, as a host, you shouldn’t accept offers purely for the sake of added revenue.

Let’s now turn our attention to the industry standards of podcast ads and how to find podcast shows as a business or to acquire ads as a podcast.

What’s the proper length of podcast ads?

When it comes to industry standards, podcast ads tend to be relatively short. The ad structure typically involves two separate ad slots. These are:

  • Pre-roll, which is a short 15-second ad slot played at the start of the podcast.
  • Mid-roll, which is a longer 60-second ad often played at the middle of the podcast.

You can also have a sponsored ad right at the end of the show, although these are rare. During the outro the host might ask the audience to call the business or visit their website. But outro-rolls tend to be less popular because audiences can easily tune out of the show as soon as they understand the podcast’s unique content has ended.

The ad slots can be either produced ads by the business or the host can read out the content of the ad. This can vary from podcast to podcast and you’ll need to think which option better suits the podcast and the business message.

Aside from the above, the advertising can also be a sponsored message by the host. This would mean the host talks about his or her own experience with your business or a moment where the host shares a story relating to the product.

How many ads should a podcast have?

Considering the benefits of podcast advertising and the relatively short length of them, you might be surprised to find the industry standard for the number of ads falls around 2-4 per podcast episode. This might seem like a minuscule number, but it’s due to the nature of podcast advertising.

Podcast ads should be enhancing the content of the podcast and be of a tangible interest to the listener. Therefore, finding the ads that fall into this category might be difficult. Whilst there might be a number of suitable businesses interested, they often offer similar products and services. It’s unlikely businesses want to advertise in a podcast together with five of their direct competitors.

Furthermore, podcast are typically compact shows designed for listening during the way to work or while doing household chores. If you start adding ten 60-second ads to a podcast, the length will naturally increase. If you start cutting from the content in order to do so, the listeners might feel like the show isn’t worth listening to anymore. The show might seem boring with minutes worth of ads and listeners will simply move on to another podcast.

By including over five ads to a podcast, the show runs a real risk of alienating its listeners. Listeners can start losing trust to the host and the advertised product. If the ad number keeps increasing, listeners can easily feel like the host is adding the ads simply to make money, not to mention interesting and beneficial products.

The pricing model for podcast ads

There are generally three different routes to pricing podcast ads and sponsorships. These include:

  • Cost per mille (CPM) – Under this model, the price is determined per thousand listens. For every thousand podcasts listened, the advertiser will pay a certain amount.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA) – This model defines the price as the cost to acquire a single customer. Therefore, each time the podcast directs a customer to the business, the business pays a pre-determined fee to the host.
  • Freely negotiated price – This model is simply a negotiated price between the podcast host and the business. The model typically sees the podcast host suggesting a price, with the business either accepting or rejecting it.

There are pros and cons to each of the above models. The CPM model tends to be the industry favourite. But if you are targeting a podcast, which neatly fits a specific product you sell, then CPA can also be beneficial due to a higher sales conversion rate. Finally, if you are discussing with a new podcast, then you should consider negotiating the terms.

In order to determine the right CPM and CPA rates, you should pay attention to the current podcast listener numbers. For example, examine the last two months of the podcast’s listens and see the average minimum listeners you can attract. This number provides you a good indication of the CPM. According to New York Magazine’s research, the typical CMP for podcasts stood between $20 and $45 in 2014.

Below is a video for determining the CPA. Whilst the video mainly talks about online links and clicks, the same formula can be beneficial for determining your CPA for podcast advertising.

Finally, it’s normal to renegotiate the prices regularly. This is important, as the listenership of the podcast can change radically within a few weeks. Determining the time for price renegotiations beforehand is especially important in the case of a new podcast.

How to find a podcast for your ad or acquire ads?

Finally, it’s time to explore the different ways to finding or acquiring podcast ads.

Step 1: Finding a podcast

If you are a business considering podcast advertising, finding the right show is crucial for marketing success. The following section deals with what makes an auspicious podcast ad, but it’s important to focus on matching your business with a good podcast. You want your business to add tangible content and benefits to the podcast and its listeners.

Therefore, define the kind of podcast you want to attract before you start looking. For example, if you sell gardening products, you should target different horticulture and environmental shows.

The best places to start looking are the different podcast directories. The most popular ones include:

Browse these directories and the categories relating to your business product and service. Once you find interesting matches, listen to the podcast to get a better feel of the show. You should also pay attention to the ranking of the show and find out whether it’s active on social media. This can reveal the show’s appeal and listener numbers. If it feels like a good match, contact the host directly and ask whether they are interested in a partnership deal.

An additional quirky way of finding podcasts could be through your own customers. Use social media to ask for podcast recommendations and to attract potential hosts to your business.

Step 2: Finding an advertiser

If you are hosting a podcast show, you could also take the lead and contact suitable businesses to offer advertising slots. In order to do so, you should first pay attention to building a solid audience. Don’t rush in to find advertisers, as businesses are unlikely to be interested if you can’t present attractive listenership numbers. Since the industry is becoming a key interest for businesses, by building a popular podcast, you are likely to automatically start attracting offers from businesses.

There are specific podcast advertising networks you should consider checking out. Sites such as Midroll and RadioTail can connect your show with suitable advertisers.

Additionally, you can also contact businesses yourself. Define the type of businesses your listeners would find beneficial and interesting, and start searching candidates on business directories.


Podcast advertising offers tremendous opportunities for businesses. However, like with any advertising medium, the quality of the ad plays a key role for success. In fact, the difference between a good and a bad podcast ad can mean the difference between a successful show and a disaster. Because listeners make a decision to download and listen to a podcast, bad advertising in the podcast can turn off listeners and sink the whole show.

If you want to create a successful podcast ad, you must focus on three key points: a short and sweet message, a creative and changing ad, and a proper understanding of the audience.

A short and sweet message

As previously stated, podcast ads tend to vary between 15 to 60 seconds. This might seem like a short amount of time, but a longer ad and listeners start nodding off. If you increase the length of the ad above this limit, listeners may press the fast-forward button and therefore miss the whole ad.

Furthermore, do you need more than 60 seconds to pitch your product? Remember the essence of the elevator pitch used with investors and apply the same rules to your podcast ad. You shouldn’t need an hour to attract a customer to your product. By keeping it brief, you can guarantee more people listen to it and that you focus on the reasons the listener should buy the product.

A creative and changing ad

While podcast listeners are used to listening to short ads during the show, the message they hear shouldn’t remain the same each time. If the ad is always the same, after a few podcasts listeners are unlikely going to feel positively about your business or the podcast.

Consider the ad as an opportunity to highlight the various benefits of your product or service. Although you should be able to sell your product in 60 seconds or less, that amount of time is unlikely going to be enough to list all the reasons for buying the product.

For example, if you sell a beauty product, you could highlight the uses in different situations. Perhaps it’s the perfect item to take with you when travelling or it’s a lifesaver when you are late for work. You could even have different customers talking about the product for each ad.

Finally, don’t forget to modify the ad according to different seasons or holidays. You can add variety to your advertisement by including Christmas-elements during December or by creating a special ad for the Valentine’s Day.

Understand the audience

Finally, it’s crucial to understand the audience. The ad must always fit to the actual podcast and be of interest to the audience listening to it.

First, ensure the product or service being advertised relates to the content of the podcast. Second, you need to focus on moulding the ad around the typical listener, in terms of language. This is all down to the typical podcast audience, which is often a tightly defined group of people with specific interests and knowledge.

For example, if you are advertising your camera products on a photography-related podcast, the audience will be aware of industry jargon. You therefore don’t want to sell your products as you would with a complete beginner. Remember, these listeners are listening to the podcast because they already share passion for photography and are probably well aware of different features good cameras have.


Podcast advertising is definitely a beneficial tool for businesses, whether you host your own podcast or are looking for new advertising channels. The industry is on the rise and you can reach a dedicated and passionate audience through this medium.

Make sure to understand the industry standards and negotiate a deal, which is beneficial to your business, whether you are a podcast host or the advertiser. Overall, the key to a successful podcast advertising campaign lies in finding the right partnerships and creating ads, which put the listener to the forefront. Always find a podcast or an advertiser, which is a perfect match for the content and adds real value to the listener and the potential customer. Now, start your own podcasting show.

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