Preparing to Buy Podcast Advertising: What to Ask and How to Ask It

Published September 15, 2020

So you're interested in podcast advertising, but don't know where to start. Here's a list of questions to ask your sales representative or media buyer (and why) before signing off on a plan.

  • What shows allow me to reach my target demographic? This may seem obvious, but it's the first question you'll want to discuss with any sales representative you work with. Give them a description of the audience you're after and ask for a list of options. At AdvertiseCast, your sales liaison will typically provide these options in the form of a proposal with individual costs included. Since podcasts can vary in price based on reach and CPM, you'll want to provide at least a rough estimate of your budget. Some clients are hesitant to disclose a financial figure so early in the process, but it will help narrow your focus and eliminate extraneous shows that aren't a good fit for you.
  • Are these ads host read or preproduced? It's a glaring distinction and your preference will likely depend upon several factors (i.e. cost, control over message, etc.). Each show is different but generally speaking, host reads stand a better chance of cutting through the 'noise' and resonating with a listener. Let's face it, it's a crowded marketplace these days and some consumers will tune out even the most well-crafted, preproduced ads. A host read means your message will be coming from a trusted voice, adding to the likelihood a listener will remain attentive. Listen to a spot from each show you're considering to see how they employ host reads. Some may sound more like a traditional advertisement, while others make it difficult to know where the show stops and the ad begins (highly desirable). Having said that, there are times where preproduced spots are a better option, as they can do things that host reads cannot. For example, when buying ad spots programmatically across a large swath of shows, you'll likely need to utilize preproduced ads. This type of advertising can also afford you targeting options (geo, behavioral, demographic, etc.), that aren't otherwise available using traditional host reads.
  • Will the host personally endorse my product or service? In most cases, it's assumed you will provide the host(s) with a product sample in order for them to personally experience its benefits prior to recording an ad. By doing so, the host can then relay that personal experience within his or her spot which consequently tells listeners the host actually endorses this product and isn't just reading from a script. Nonetheless, you'll want to confirm this with shows from which you are buying. In some instances, a show will commit to a host read but without a personal endorsement. Perhaps the show is desirable enough to where that isn't an issue for you, the advertiser, but you'll want to know that information going in.
  • What's the cost? An obvious question that no media buyer would forget to ask, but be aware that CPMs can vary drastically depending upon the show and/or network from which you are buying. In our experience, a reasonable CPM for host read tends to be anywhere between $20 to $30, with most defaulting to the median $25. Some shows with a highly engaged, highly desirable audience will command higher CPMs, but it's a good rule to be aware of. Preproduced spots typically command CPMs between $12 and $20 depending upon how narrowly defined your audience is.
  • How should I format my copy? We recommend utilizing talking points as opposed to a verbatim script. Talking points afford the host some autonomy in formatting their ad spot. They're able to touch on key messages you've included while still tying it back to their own personal experience. This makes for a far more organic sounding spot – something you don't often receive in traditional radio or television. You may choose to specify that select portions of the ad are to be read verbatim – often times the call to action – while allowing the host to ad lib in other areas. Certain products or services require legal disclaimers and hosts are typically always happy to accommodate. For more detailed instructions on how to format your copy, check out this document.

If you're interested in exploring a podcast advertising campaign for your company, please contact

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