What does it mean to sponsor a podcast?
Sponsoring a podcast means paying the podcast producers or creators to promote your product, service, or business during their show. This can be for one episode only or throughout a series, depending on the sponsorship deal you strike. There are also multiple ways for ads to be integrated into podcasts (more on this below).
Podcast advertising is of mutual benefit. Sponsors pay for access to a podcast’s captive audience, and podcast creators receive an additional income stream.
Types of podcast ads
This is where the podcast host takes a portion of time to talk about the sponsored product or service during their show. This format enjoys a more personal touch that is more convincing than a standard pre-recorded ad. Usually, they’ll offer their take on the service and personally recommend it to their listeners. An additional advantage is that this ad feels less like an interruption since it’s still the host talking.
Radio-style podcast ads are a format that we’re all familiar with. This is a pre-recorded ad that is played either before, during, or after the podcast content.
Dynamic ads are a type of pre-recorded ad. According to cookies and ad-servers, they go one step beyond radio-style ads because they’re integrated into podcast audio. This means that no two listeners will hear the same ads because the promotions they’re listening to will depend on their browsing habits. Plus, it means that you’re able to gain exposure across a whole podcast episode catalog as opposed to a few specific episodes.
There are three places that a podcast ad can be played during an episode. These are called:
- Pre-roll ads - before the podcast episode
- Mid-roll ads - during the episode
- Post-roll ads - after the episode has finished
The most valuable placement for a podcast ad is the mid-roll. This is because the audience is far less likely to skip over ads during the episode. For obvious reasons, this also makes mid-roll ads the most expensive type.
Why do podcasts have sponsors?
From a podcaster’s perspective, sponsorship deals are an effective and lucrative way to monetize their content and create an additional income stream. For independent creators, sponsorship is an excellent means of covering costs.
From a sponsor’s perspective, podcasts are a compelling way to advertise their product, service, or business. They can leverage the power of the podcasting medium.
How many listeners does a podcast need for sponsors?
No set number of listeners is necessary to gain sponsorship. Podcasts big and small can find sponsors.
Equally, sponsors should not turn their noses up at podcasts with smaller listener bases. It’s crucial to understand that it’s not about the number of listeners but rather the power and value of a niche, captive, and engaged audience.
Do podcasts have sponsors?
Not all podcasts have sponsors. This may be an intentional decision or come down to the fact that the creator hasn’t thought of it yet.
Potential sponsors can approach shows that haven’t previously had sponsorship. Don’t be put off by the fact that you’re the first; you may just find that they strike the perfect sponsorship deal.
Why You Should Sponsor Podcasts
Podcasts are an invaluable advertising medium. Big and small businesses alike can benefit from sponsoring a podcast. But as we said earlier, if you looked solely at the numbers, you might not think so. But here’s why you should most definitely consider sponsoring podcasts:
Niche & Captive Audience
Podcasts boast select audiences that have chosen to listen to their content. This makes for incredibly targeted demographics that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere from a marketing perspective.
In addition, podcasts usually cover niche topics and themes. For sponsors, this means that if you’re able to find a show that aligns closely with your product or business niche, you’re sure to find an audience that will be interested in what you’re offering.
Loyal audience base
By the medium, podcasters tend to have a well-established relationship with their audience. With platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts allowing listeners to subscribe, you’ve got an audience that keeps coming back for more.
This means that podcast hosts have cultivated a real sense of credibility that, if leveraged effectively by sponsors, will reflect well on their brand too.
Harness a powerful platform
Though you may appreciate the power of podcasts, you may not have the resources or time to consider launching your dedicated podcast. Sponsoring a show effectively harnessing the lucrative power of podcasting without putting much effort into yourself. If you’re able to find a show that operates within your niche, you will still be able to target your ideal listeners.
How much does it cost to sponsor a podcast?
Unfortunately, there’s no fixed formula or pricing structure for sponsoring a podcast. The rate you pay can depend on the type of sponsorship deal you strike and with whom. Especially given that podcasters are free to come up with their price.
There are several different ways of valuing sponsorship deals. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that might affect how much you pay:
As we alluded to above, you’ll find yourself paying more or less depending on where you ask your ad to be placed. Pre-roll and post-roll ads will cost less of a premium compared to mid-roll ads.
Niche & captive audience
Contrary to what you might think, often smaller podcasts can charge a higher CPM. This is because they’re offering a high-value niche and captive audience that is hyper-targeted.
Type of Sponsorship Deal
Multiple types of sponsorship deals will work for different sponsors and podcasters. The kind of partnership you choose to enter into will affect how much you pay.
CPM stands for ‘cost per mille,’ meaning the cost per thousand impressions or plays. This is a standard way of measuring the cost of advertising based on a show’s audience numbers.
For example, podcasters usually earn around $20/ad for every thousand downloads.
This measurement framework is most applicable to shows that have a large following. In reality, however, most podcasts have a smaller listener base.
We look at what defines a ‘download’ later on.
Bespoke Sponsorship Deal
If you know the podcast host or producer personally, you can strike a sponsorship deal and barter a price that works for you both. This may or may not reflect standard rates.
Affiliate Model and CPA
In an affiliate sponsorship deal, instead of paying per episode or CPM, payment is based on how many people buy your product or service due to the podcast ad. This is called ‘CPA’ or Cost Per Action.
Usually, the sponsor will provide a unique URL or discount code to affiliate marketers to measure and quantify the success of the affiliate scheme and compensate the podcaster appropriately.
Although there’s no guarantee that affiliate ads will pay off, there is equally less pressure on the sponsor because they only have to pay out if and when the podcast ad translates to results. This is a low effort way of gaining exposure and works particularly well for podcasters just starting.
How to sponsor podcasts?
Want to sponsor a podcast? Here’s how:
If you’re a podcaster looking to gain sponsorship for your podcast, check out our guide to getting sponsored!
Find a podcast to sponsor
There’s no sponsorship deal without a podcast. There are two ways to find the perfect show to sponsor:
Use an agent or third party
Leave the hard work to a specialist media advertising agency or podcast hosting platform. They’ll work to match you with an appropriate podcast that is likely to get you a good ROI on your investment.
As a sponsor, you can directly approach a podcast or vice-versa. If you come across the perfect podcast that addresses your target audience, why not reach out to the host with a sponsorship proposal?
On the flip side, you may receive sponsorship requests from podcasters looking for potential sponsors.
Be aware; this method requires far more due diligence on your part in terms of analyzing the potential viability of a sponsorship deal.
Look at their Media Kit
Whether you’ve identified a potential podcast through an agent or independently, always ensure to look at the podcast’s media kit or pitch deck. Their slide deck should outline their podcast in more detail. Each slide should introduce you to a different aspect of their show, such as their audience, their tone of voice, insightful analytics about their audience engagement, download stats, and more.
Agree on the details of your sponsorship deal
Once you have decided that this podcast is the one for you, you’ll need to iron out the details of your sponsorship deal. This will include negotiating the type of podcast ad, your ad’s placement, the value of your deal, and the length of the sponsorship.
At this point, you may decide to opt for an affiliate model rather than a conventional sponsorship, for example.
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4 things to know if you plan to sponsor podcasts
How to find a suitable podcast to sponsor (by yourself)
If you’d instead not go through an agency, here are a couple of tips for finding a podcast that you want to sponsor:
Do your research
Finding and securing the best sponsorship deal is all about doing thorough research.
Think about your target audience
Trawl podcast directories and major listening platforms for shows that target the same audience and demographic. Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes and think about what kind of content they would want to be consuming.
Ensure the podcast aligns with your brand
If your business sponsors a podcast, you need to ensure that the production quality, tone of voice, and content reflect well on your brand. Even if the podcast produces content that matches your niche, certain other elements may not. So it’s good to take a holistic view and make sure that a sponsorship deal would benefit your brand overall.
Other practical considerations
Beyond an affinity with your brand and target audience, there are other factors you should take a look at, including:
- Their upload schedule. How frequently do they publish episodes?
- Do they already have sponsors? If so, who are they?
- Do they have a media kit? This will accelerate your decision-making process.
Value engagement statistics and analytics
Take a thorough look at the podcast’s engagement stats, audience base, reviews, comments, and how much interaction they receive. All of this will indicate how successful a sponsorship deal will be.
Take a look at previous sponsors
If the show you’re considering sponsoring has had previous sponsors, look at who they were and whether they were similar brands. This will be a good indication of whether your intuition is correct.
How sponsors measure engagement
Once you’ve settled your sponsorship deal, that’s just the beginning. You’ll need to measure the conversions that your podcast ads produce to ascertain their success. There are a couple of different methods that enable you to measure your return on investment quantitatively:
Provide the podcast host with a memorable, unique URL included in the ad, the podcast transcript, and the show notes. This URL will enable you to track click-throughs so that you can track how many listeners follow through from your ad.
Unique coupon codes
If you provide a unique coupon or discount code along with your ad, this will make your offering even more attractive to podcast listeners. It’s also a great way to track the success of your podcast ads.
How do podcasters define ‘downloads’?
A podcast’s download numbers can affect your sponsorship deal. You may decide to go with one show over another over their downloads, or if you’re opting for a CPM model, then you’ll undoubtedly need to have a grip of the numbers.
The definition of a ‘download’ is a point of debate within the industry. But broadly speaking, a download is counted when a listener plays an episode of a podcast or downloads the audio. Podcast hosting platforms will count a download when it receives a request for the audio file.