Why do host-read podcast ads cut through so well?
If you’re a podcast listener, chances are you’ve listened to a host read ad.
They’re conversational and personal, and they leverage the trust an audience has built up for a particular podcast or host.
In the US, it’s been reported that host-read podcast ads can reach CPM’s as high as $80, which would make them one of the most expensive (or lucrative, depending which side you’re on) forms of advertising on any medium. Comparatively, network commercial radio in the US is looking at around $3 and digital advertising is closer to $10.
So what’s going on? If we look into why host-read ads are so appealing and effective, we start uncovering the attributes that are making podcasts such a popular medium in general.
Intimate and personal
Listening to a podcast is inherently intimate – it’s just you and another human voice in your ears. It’s like listening to a friend on the phone who wants to get something off their chest. You listen, assess and you’re not sharing the experience with anyone else other than the person on the other line. Due to this intimacy, most podcast audiences feel like they get to know the hosts on a personal level.
I know I did when I met the unassuming poster boy of podcasting, Alex Blumberg of “Startup” and Gimlet Media. I bounded up to him at a Podcast Movement like an old friend and got a photo of our “catch up” just after he’d spoken on stage.
He was a little freaked out – literally saying, “this has never happened before” – but that’s SO Alex!
OMG we both roll our sleeves up the same! Catch you soon bud 😉 xo
Trust and Integrity
The personal relationship or the perception of one means that podcast hosts build a strong sense of trust with their audience.
Self-help podcasting superstar Tim Ferris has had his podcast The Tim Ferriss show downloaded over 100 million times and is not afraid to advertise on his show. However, he’s constantly reminding his listeners that he only promotes products that he believes in – he’s putting his integrity on the line:
Sure, he’s arguably the most popular podcaster in the world, but by looking at how Tim Ferriss leverages his audience’s trust and his own integrity to sell products we get an insight into why host-read advertising is so appealing to advertisers. Also, the ads are delivered in a way that’s…
Seamless and Smooth
Just like the segway into this paragraph, host-read ads don’t miss a beat and aren’t jarring like a typical ad can be. Take this example from another one of my favourite podcasts, Heavyweight. The host Jonathon Goldstein first warns his listeners that there is about to be an ad, and then delivers an entertaining read with the theme music playing underneath for branding:
This means that not only is the listener less likely to tune out, they’re kept just as engaged and in the same mood as they are when listening to the podcast.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, the reason host read ads are so engaging is that EVERY listener has actually gone out of their way to download and consume the content. Unlike an ad on the radio or a pop-up ad online, advertisers know that the audience has made a conscious decision to listen, and is therefore likely to be more engaged.
Here’s one of my favourite comedians Hannibal Buress selling some mattresses for Helix.com on his podcast The Handsome Rambler. You have to admit that this would sound ridiculous out of context:
The read is funny, honest and inventive (auto-tune!?). It matches Hannibal’s personal “brand” to a tee and it stands out! Best of all, Helix know that the audience is already sold on Hannibal, and they’re leveraging that relationship and of course the known demographic of the audience.
And now for a message from me
They say trust, integrity and intimacy can’t be bought, but with host-read podcast advertising it kind of can be. These defining characteristics of podcasting are arguably building more loyal and engaged fans than any other medium. Meanwhile, the younger generations are telling us they don’t like traditional advertising:
Host-read ads fly in the face of traditional advertising and it’s nice to know that there are still people out there that want to slow down and connect with a stranger for the length of a phone call. It’s also nice for advertisers to know too.
About: Mitch Secrett
Mitch worked in radio full-time for 6 years, he now works for a company whose sole mission is to help radio stations transition into the future of audio consumption. If you work for a radio station check out Omny Studio. Click here for more.