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How Marketing Works with Podcasts

Podcasting is one of the newest media to be embraced by marketers. But it's still in its early stages of success.

Still, enough marketing podcasts — and podcast ads — exist to show the sheer power they have for the marketing industry.

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If you're looking for a new marketing strategy, podcasts are a great answer.

Podcasts are versatile, powerful, and informative. Plus, with multiple hosting platforms available, you can expand your brand awareness many times over.

With so much potential in one marketing medium, it's a wonder that every marketer doesn't have their own podcast.

In the meantime, this is why you should start yours!


How marketing and podcasts work together

Why Podcasting Matters to Marketing Infographic

1. General podcast stats

General Podcast Stats

Let's start with the popularity of podcasts over the past five years.

Podcast popularity is gauged most often by American surveys and metrics. In this case, our gauge is the percentage of Americans 12 years old or older who listen to one podcast per month.

In 2012, about 14% of that population listened to a podcast. But after a mild dip in 2013, that population is now 21%.

That's tens of millions of people who listen to at least one podcast every month, giving you a huge potential audience of occasional listeners.

But podcast listenership isn't lying stagnant. And that's partly thanks to the rise in podcast hosting platforms.

2. Successful podcast platforms

Successful Podcast Platforms

Just like videos and images, podcasts need to be hosted somewhere to be distributed.

Some podcast networks pull from iTunes listings, and others require podcasters to set up their own profiles directly on their network. Regardless, iTunes is the crowned king of podcasts.

In fact, iTunes now has more than 1 billion subscribers worldwide.

Other networks include Podcast & Radio Addict, which has 10 million app downloads on Android.

Castbox and Podcast Republic are the next largest with 5 million app downloads, and Podbean has about 1 million total subscribers.

These are just five podcast distribution networks with diverse users and a huge potential for audiences.

In fact, making a podcast comes with some significant advantages to your marketing strategy.

3. Advantages of creating a podcast

Advantages of Podcasts

When you create and post your first podcast, you open the door to six major marketing advantages.

First, you have the potential to drive more website traffic for your business. That's because podcasting naturally spreads brand awareness, and you can add links back to your site on every distribution network you use.

On top of that, you also get greater brand visibility since your company name is now in more places online.

Third, you have the opportunity for search saturation, which can help with digital marketing strategies from SEO to reputation management. (We've discussed this more in a separate blog post about podcasting.)

Next, you diversify your content marketing strategy by adding an audio product you can showcase throughout the Internet.

Fifth, your users can passively consume your podcast. That's because audio content doesn't require someone to focus directly on it, so listeners can enjoy your podcast while driving, working, and more.

Finally, you can earn a loyal following with your podcasts by creating regular, episodic content. This is similar to the concept behind a blog where you release new posts regularly so people know when to expect new content from you.

So let's say you're a marketer and you're thinking about podcasting. What can you do?

4. Podcasts about marketing

Podcasts about Marketing

At the time of publication, marketing podcasts are in their infancy.

Currently, the best ways to gauge the success of a marketing podcast are consistent subscribers and individual downloads.

In both cases, more is better.

But we should explore more than just metrics for marketing podcasts.

More importantly, we should explore opportunity.

5. Podcast adoption by marketers

Podcast Adoption by Marketers

Today, only 3% of all marketers make podcasts.

That includes marketers who are experts on marketing itself, companies that market to consumers, and all other marketing niches.

In addition, only 240 podcasts on iTunes fall in the Management & Marketing category. That's only 0.096% of all iTunes podcasts.

In general, that's not a lot of production — but remember, the podcast audience includes tens of millions of people.

That means there's a ton of opportunity in this marketing genre. There's a growing audience of millions asking for audio content.

You just need to give them what they want.

And if you want some ideas on how to start, you can check out some of the best podcasts about marketing.

6. Top 5 podcasts about marketing

Top 5 Podcasts about Marketing

If you want ideas on marketing, several podcasts already exist that you can enjoy.

HBR Ideacast is produced by Harvard Business Review. It features thoughts from some of the sharpest minds in business, covering topics ranging from diversity to corporate intel and more.

The Art of Charm discusses social skills essential for relationships. Often, these skills can apply to management or sales, which is why it's listed in the marketing section of iTunes. Other times, the podcast may cover more romantic or interpersonal topics.

Easy Residual Income covers different tips and tricks for individuals looking to increase their supplemental income, often by selling on Amazon.

The GaryVee Audio Experience is produced by marketing personality Gary Vaynerchuk. This podcast is similar to HBR Ideacast in that it's a marketing podcast about marketing.

Jocko Podcast is made by Jocko Willink, a decorated Navy SEAL with a history of outstanding leadership. In that regard, his podcast deals more with management and leadership than marketing, though the core of his military experiences can often translate to business or life lessons.

With these five podcasts leading by example, it's easy to see that podcasts about marketing can succeed.

But what about marketing and advertising on a podcast?

7. Podcast advertising stats

Podcast Advertising Stats

When businesses want to reach podcast listeners, they buy ads that go on the actual podcast's recording.

These ads last as long as the podcast episode is up, and they've proven to be effective.

For all of these podcasts, the most common success metric is unique US downloads.

The more people who download an episode, the more people who hear it and — theoretically — hear your ad.

So just how much do companies spend on podcast advertisements?

8. Projected podcast advertising spend

Projected Podcast Advertising Spend

Podcast ad spending has become an entire industry of its own. This is for two big reasons:

  1. Successful advertisers want to get more customers
  2. New advertisers want to market on podcasts

In 2014, advertisers only spent $90 million on in-podcast ads. That limited ads to a select few exceptionally popular podcasts, some of which still continue today.

In 2015, that spend grew sizably to $133 million. Then it jumped again to $190 million in 2016.

In 2017, total podcast ad spend is expected to hit $243 million with $316 million following in 2018.

Then, podcasting ads are expected to take a big leap in 2019 to $411 million and eventually $500 million in 2020.

This "big leap" is mostly because podcasting has created a golden age of audio content over the past few years. For almost every medium ever invented, marketing has to play catch-up to really start using that medium properly. It happened for newspapers, television, radio, the Internet, and now it's happening for podcasts.

2018 is the year when marketing will finally catch up to podcasts. It's not clear that means for podcasting's golden age — but it'll probably be more profitable for the podcasts that already have loyal followings.

So marketers are flocking to podcasts. What should you expect to pay for a single ad?

9. Podcast ad costs

Podcast Ad Costs

Today, podcast ads can vary in cost depending on the brand and popularity of the podcast itself. Podcast networks may have their own advertising rules as well, but we can at least average them out to determine how much you'd pay for an ad spot on a podcast.

Typically, you'll pay between $15 to $30 per 1000 listeners (CPM), although on a top-notch podcast, you might pay as much as $100 CPM.

That's because top podcasts could have millions of listeners while other podcasts only have thousands.

In that regard, podcast ads work a lot like television or radio — you pay for the viewers you get. But unlike television or radio, you can get an excellent idea of a podcast's listeners just by looking at its name, category, and other data.

That means you're advertising to a targeted audience every time you buy an ad on a podcast, giving you better results than your average TV channel or radio station.

But how do ads actually work on podcasts?

10. Common podcast ad formats

Common Podcast Ad Formats

Podcasts break down into four main categories: pre-roll, mid-roll, outro, and native ad.

Pre-roll ads are endorsements that go before the podcast episode. Mid-roll ads happen in the middle, and outro ads go at the end.

Native ads, also called "host-reads," are scripts written by an advertiser and read by a podcast's host so that the ad sounds more organic and natural for the podcast's audience.

Native ads are great for bridging the uncomfortable gap that occurs between podcast and ad. Instead of abruptly stopping an episode for a new voice, background music, and other sounds, the same speaker continues their podcast — they're just reading your script instead.

So we know podcast ads take a number of different formats. But what do they actually contain?

11. Podcast advertiser stats

Podcast Advertiser Stats

Podcast ads are fairly straightforward in their approach to marketing.

Essentially, they have to:

  1. Mention the brand
  2. Offer value

That's why 89% of podcast ads featured an online coupon code for listeners. That's because 87% of all ads were intended to acquire new customers online, and 80% sweetened the deal by saying "Go to [our website] for a percentage off your next purchase."

Overall, these ads have proven to be profitable for both podcasters and the advertisers themselves.

Let's check out profitable podcasters first.

12. Podcast success from selling ads

Podcast Success Selling Ads

National Public Radio is one of the most prolific podcast companies in the United States. With several popular podcasts, including several #1 spots, they also have advertisers lined up around the block.

That's most evident in NPR's 70% growth in company-wide ad sales from 2015-2016, which is almost exclusively credited to podcast ads.

It's difficult to find these stats for other companies because many aren't willing to publish exactly how much they've grown from podcast ads.

But, if you're going to look for an example in the real-world, NPR is your best bet for inspiration.

Clearly, they've profited from their work.

But what do the advertisers get for their money?

13. Podcast success from buying ads

Podcast Success Buying Ads

Podcast advertisers can profit just as much, if not more, than podcasters themselves.

The first noteworthy advertiser is Sling, a cable television substitute that offers channel packages for less than conventional cable television.

By using podcast ads, Sling saw engagement rates two or three times better than conventional radio ads. That's an outstanding metric increase that reflects an audience significantly more interested in their service than regular radio.

Underwear retailer Mack Weldon also used podcast ads to grow their brand.

By carefully selecting the appropriate podcasts, Mack Weldon saw incredible results with a 100% increase in sales from this single advertising method alone. That's an incredible ROI that you hardly see in digital marketing, much less marketing in general.

Third, specialty sock retailer Bombas took out podcast ads to increase sales.

They met their goal by achieving a 15%-40% increase in new customers, compared to different marketing methods they already used. While that may not be a 100% increase in sales, it's still a significant improvement that grew their revenue and spread brand awareness.

Overall, these three companies earned some outstanding results experimenting with a new marketing medium.

Now that we've covered almost everything involved in podcast advertising, let's take a look at the people who listen to podcasts.

14. Podcast listener stats

Podcast Listener Behavior

Podcast listeners show a lot of unique behaviors that are important to marketing.

First, the average podcast listener consumers 4 hours and 10 minutes of podcasts every week. Incidentally, Americans spend about 4 hours and 15 minutes commuting to work every week.

While correlation doesn't necessarily mean causation, it's a pretty compelling coincidence to see that most podcast listeners spend the same amount of time enjoying a podcast as they do going to or from work.

In that regard, it's usually a safe bet to say that podcast listeners enjoy their favorite audio shows before and after the work day.

Surprisingly, only 25% of listeners say they enjoy podcasts in their car. That may be because podcasts have bigger audiences in major cities where people commute to work via train, bus, or other modes of transportation.

Next, 71% of podcast listeners access their favorite shows through mobile devices. This makes sense, given the probability that they also listen going to and from work.

Additionally, 67% of listeners find sponsored messages helpful, probably because podcasts and their advertisers work so closely to provide a good ad experience for listeners.

63% of all podcast listeners have bought something advertised on a podcast as well, which lines up almost perfectly with the 67% that find sponsored messages useful.

It's also noteworthy that podcast listeners are active online. 60% use social media "several times a day," which makes them great brand ambassadors for ads they hear and like.

On top of that, podcast listeners are passionate about their favorite shows. 88% of them listen to every episode of a show at least once. So even if you have an old ad in the first episode of a podcast's run, seven out of every eight listeners will still hear your ad, even if they're listening years after you paid!

It's also important to note that 93% of podcast listeners use social media, and 47% follow brands online, and 45% have visited a podcast sponsor's website.

All in all, we can see that podcast listeners are passionate, consistent, and loyal fans of their favorite shows — and even the ads that are on those shows!

But we still have one question we haven't answered.

Statistically, who are the people that actually listen to podcasts?

15. Podcast listener demographics

Podcast Listener Demographics

About two thirds of American podcast listeners are at least 12, meaning there's a large demographic of children enjoying podcasts as well. (Although they're probably listening because someone else is listening.)

56% of listeners are male and 44% are female, so the gender of listeners is skewed slightly.

But most importantly to marketers, podcast listeners earn at least $10,000 more than the average American salary.

That $63,000 annual income says a lot about what an average podcast listener can afford. In most areas of the country, that's a big enough salary to include a large disposal income.

So when you advertise on podcasts, you're advertising to listeners who:

  1. Are in your customer demographic
  2. Enjoy your ad content
  3. Are at least 12 years old
  4. Earn $63,000 per year

Most marketing media would fight to have ad audiences that qualified.

But for podcasts, it all happens naturally.

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The golden age of podcasts is here, and it's time for marketers to take advantage of it.

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