Podcast Advertising - The Ultimate 2020 Guide

We created this resource to help you better understand the complex world of podcast advertising.

Learn Directly from the Pros!

We created this comprehensive guide to help you better understand the complex world of podcast advertising. The information was gathered from our in-house sales team and us, the founders of the company. Combined, we have over 30 years working experience in the podcast ad industry.
Our goal is this becomes the ultimate resource for all things podcast advertising. Our team will be continuously updating and posting new content here to keep things fresh and up-to-date.

Podcasting is Becoming more Mainstream

The world of "podcasting" has really taken off in the past 5-10 years due mostly to our smartphones allowing us to easily subscribe, download, and listen to our favorite podcast shows. Not that long ago this was not a simple task.
According to Statista, the number of monthly podcast listeners has drastically increased over the past years as listenership has doubled within ten years. In 2018, the number of podcast listeners in the United States reached 75 million, and it is predicted that the number of monthly listeners will hit 164 million in the year 2024, with the compound annual growth rate between 2019 and 2023 pegged at 17 percent.
Along with the rise of listenership, the number of active podcast shows has tremendously increased over the years. Many sources now say there are more than 1 million active podcasts in the market and Apple alone states more than 525,000 active shows with more than 18.5 million episodes.

Talk to a Podcast Ad Sales Pro!

Get Started

Podcast Advertising Is Growing Quickly

Podcast advertising revenue has increased 5X since 2015. According to eMarketer, Podcast ad revenue in 2015 was $106 million and in 2020 is expected to grow to $863 million. And by next year, 2021 ad revenue in the podcast space should be over $1B.
Early days, most of this revenue derived from direct response type companies. Direct response companies typically advertise in new channels first as they test to see if the channel produces results. Direct response clients need to see a return on their advertising investment for them to keep rebuying. DR shops soon found that podcast advertising returned very strong returns, hence why they kept spending more and doubling down on their ad budgets.
Now we are seeing more brands entering the space as the DR companies have proven this to be an effective medium to advertise. Brands are seeing great results as brand lift studies have proven campaigns to be very beneficial.
So why do podcast ads perform so well? The main reason is the show's host typically performs the ad and recommends the product or service. Podcast show hosts are influencers in the on-demand audio space. So when listeners hear their favorite-trusted podcast host recommend a product or service, they listen to them and are much more likely to purchase. Like any influencer, the show's host has a major influence on their listeners when it comes to recommending products or services, thus leading to very high engagement rates and ROI on ad spend.

Understanding The Different Types of Podcast Advertising Units

Over the years, the podcast ad space has seen many new types of ad units become available. For most of the past and still the most popular podcast ad unit today is the baked-in host-read ad. This is where the talent/host of the show reads/performs the ad. Many sources claim that this is still the most effective ad unit for advertisers.
But programmatic dynamically placed podcast ads are gaining popularity as they introduce new targeting capabilities that many digital marketers are accustomed to. For instance now you can target GEO locations, time periods, listener demographics, listener behavioral segments, and more. This gives you the advantage of targeting just the right listener that meets your customer avatar.
This table below shows the different podcast ad units available along with information for each. To see CPM and cost related to these ad units, please see the podcast advertising rates section below.

Understanding the difference between baked-in host read ads verses dynamically inserted verses programmatic - My brain hurts!

Many of us get confused when talking about the different types of ad units, ad delivery, and creative content. First let's start with baked-in host read ads. These ads are performed and read by the host and also done during the recording of the episode (baked-in). The ad read itself is actually native audio content within the episode.
This is different than a host read dynamic ad, as a host read dynamic ad is still read and performed by the host, but it is delivered into the episode dynamically. How does this work? You need a hosting platform that has ad serving technology. The ad serving technology will allow you to insert ad markers in each of your episodes. This defines the place to insert ads. You can insert them anywhere in the episode.
Now programmatic is different again as with dynamically inserted ads, you are controlling where the ads should be placed. You control which shows, which episodes, etc. With programmatic delivery, you don't control this as the software AI technology does this and inserts the ads. The technology is delivering the ad to the listener based on targeting criteria; time of day, geo location of listener, demographics of listener, etc. So if you meet the campaigns targeting objectives, you'll be delivered the ad.

Talk to a Podcast Ad Sales Pro!

Get Started

Measurement, industry standards and being IAB compliant

When it comes to podcast advertising, measuring a show's reach is a very important piece to the puzzle. This is important, as ultimately the show's reach will determine the cost of the ad spot. Here at AdvertiseCast we measure a podcast on the number of podcast downloads a new episode receives the first 30 days of being published. Then we take this number and multiply it by the CPM and this determines the ad spot cost.
Now it's important to point out that not all hosting companies measure podcast downloads the same. Some don't take into consideration multiple downloads happening from a single device or IP and then you have to weigh this against what download window are you working with. Some will count only one download from the same IP or device once every 24 hours, some much longer. So this can skew the results. This is why the IAB came out with an industry standard guide a few years ago. It defines all of these nuances and allows everyone to report downloads essentially the same. So everyone that partakes in the IAB certification program, is essentially reporting the same and playing on an even playing field.
AdvertiseCast works with shows hosted on many different hosting providers. But most hosting platforms we work with are IAB certified.

Podcast Advertising Rates

Pricing of podcast ads simply comes down to the amount of downloads/impressions the podcast receives in the first 30 days and the CPM rate. What does CPM mean? CPM stands for Cost Per Mille (latin for 1,000) or in our case the cost you pay per 1,000 downloads (listens) of your podcast.
The overall average rate for baked-in podcast host read ads are:
60 second spots: $25-28 CPM
30 second spots: $21-24 CPM
To see more detailed CPM pricing captured overtime, please visit our podcast rates page.
To calculate how much you can charge for your ad spots, here's the quick equation:
Cost = Reach * CPM / 1000
Or you can always use our calculator tool.
Now when you expand outside of baked-in host read ads, CPMs can vary. We've put together this table to help you better understand CPM rates across many different types of podcast ad units.
Podcast Ad Unit Cost (CPMs) Description Placement Targeting Capabilities
Baked-In Host Read $25-$40 30 or 60 Second Host-Read. Ad stays in that particular episode forever. Pre or mid-roll spot on NEW episode Target a specific podcast and episode
Dynamic Episodic $20-$25 30 or 60 Second Host-Read or Pre-Produced Ad. Ad is dynamically inserted into the new episode. Pre or mid-roll spot on NEW episode Target a specific podcast and episode
Dynamic Catalog $15-$20 30 or 60 Second Host-Read or Pre-Produced Ad. Ad is dynamically inserted into any episode within the entire catalog. Pre or mid-roll spot on ANY episode in catalog Target specific podcasts, time frame, or genre/category of shows
Programmatic $12-$15 30 or 60 Second Pre-Produced Ad. Ad is programmatically delivered in many different podcasts. Pre or mid-roll spot on ANY episode Target GEO (City, State, Zip, DMA, Lat/Long, POI) demographics, behavioral, time frames, etc
Then we went a step further on the second table to show CPM rates broken down by podcast genre/category. Note these are only for baked-in host read ads.
Podcast Category CPM Rate
Business $30
Health & Fitness $27
Technology $26
Education $26
Fiction $24
Science $23
Comedy $23
Society & Culture $23
Games $22
Leisure $22

What type of podcast ads makes the most sense for me?

Criteria Best Podcast Ad Format
I want to control which shows run my ad? Host-Read (Baked-In or Dynamic)
I want something more tangible, like the ability to find my 30 or 60 seconds of ad real estate I purchased within that specific podcast episode? Host-Read (Baked-In)
I want to geo target my ad based on a certain region, state, city, zip code, DMA? Programmatic
I need to reach a certain type of audience based on demographics? Host-Read (Baked-In or Dynamic) or Programmatic
I want to reach a certain type of audience based on behavioral segments or psychographics? Looking to buy a car? Just purchased a new home? Just had a baby? Just got married? Programmatic
I'm an ad buyer that wants the most bang for my buck and like a little extra value? Host-Read (Baked-In)
I want the biggest return on my investment Data shows Programmatic

Different Podcast Networks

The podcast space consists of many different types of podcast networks. Each network houses many different shows that you can purchase ad inventory from. Most networks group shows by a certain genre, such as sports, pop-culture, scripted-series, news, etc. Click here to see a list of podcast networks we work with. If you don't see the network listed, chances are good that we still work with them and please contact us for more information.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see, the podcast advertising space is quite complicated and requires a strong understanding to navigate the waters correctly. We understand you're busy running your business, so let us take care of your podcast advertising needs. We'll work with you one-to-one and create a tailored campaign that meets your objectives and goals. We'd love to hear from you and feel free to get in touch any time.

Talk to a Podcast Ad Sales Pro!

Get Started