How to find podcasts to advertise on
Picking The Right Podcasts For Your Brand And Product
There are nearly 2 million podcasts published and new ones added every day - in Q1 of 2021, 150,000 new podcasts launched. So how do you find the sweet spot to reach your target audience? Here are 8 ways to find shows that will match your ads with podcast listeners most likely to buy followed by how to buy the ad space on those shows.
1. Choose podcasts from a relevant genre
The most straightforward approach to finding podcasts is to pick a genre that’s related to your business. If you’re selling marketing software, there is no shortage of podcasts produced for marketers. You’re marketing a new workout app? The health and fitness genre is packed with shows.
But what if your product doesn’t fit neatly into a podcast player’s predefined categories, or that genre is saturated with competitors and you need to reach new prospective customers? You’ll need to think about your audience’s broader listening habits and interests. Audience insights tools like SparkToro and Facebook Audience Insights may help uncover some new details.
2. Look at similar shows
Some podcast players have suggestions for shows similar to the one you’re listening to or viewing. Check out Apple podcasts’ “You Might Also Like” section at the bottom of a show’s page that shows what listeners of that podcast also subscribe to. Soundcloud has a “Fans also like” section that displays additional tracks or podcasts based on listener engagement. From their website: “Related tracks are selected by an algorithm that returns recommendations through a network of relations and interactions on SoundCloud (for example a user liked a track, a user followed another user, a track is reposted etc.).”
3. Podcast search engines
Listen Notes allows you to search nearly every podcast published. Basic search is free and will search through podcast names, episode titles, and show descriptions for your keyword. On a show’s page, there is also a “Recommended” list that will help you find shows on the same topic.
Of course, any free tool will be missing the information that makes it easy to start advertising with a podcast. Magellan AI is the only platform that independently collects unbiased, platform-agnostic data on podcasts and advertisers. Use the keywords feature to search through both ad copy and episode copy to find podcasts that you may have never thought are discussing your industry or reaching your audience. Keep the pulse of your industry by tracking competitive and adjacent brands to better inform your media plan.
4. Google it
You probably already did this and that’s why you’re here. But have you tried searching for “[thing your audience is interested in] podcasts”? Publications and blogs post curated lists relating to their reader’s interests that could lead you to more related shows. For example, this search for “home decor podcasts” brings up curated lists from publications with dedicated readers.
5. Select a podcast hosted by a non-competitive company
Many companies are producing podcasts as part of their own marketing efforts. Perhaps there’s a tool that your team uses that hosts their own show. Mine your CRM for any partners or amazing customers that might be willing to run your ads.
6. Award winners and ranking lists
Awards shows are pretty transparent with how they choose their nominees and winners whereas most ranking lists are a black box. Apple has Top Charts for each of the major genres where you can toggle between ranked lists for shows or episodes. Spotify also features podcast charts by genre and country.
While these options can give you a good idea of what’s popular in the podcast world overall, award-winning and top ranking podcasts get expensive, fill their inventory early, and are highly competitive.
7. Size Up Your Competition
Keeping track of competitive and adjacent brands is a key feature of Magellan AI. If you don’t have access to the platform though, you can see what other brands are doing on www.ReallyGoodPodcastAds.com. Search by brand, podcast, industry, or genre to uncover which brands partnered with what podcasts.
Since it’s considered a best practice to use dedicated promo codes for each show you place ads with, you may be able to find some new show ideas hiding in your competitors’ coupon codes. Podcastpromocodes.com is a great starting point but you can also check out coupon aggregators like retailmenot.com and couponcabin.com.
8. What do you (and your customers, and your team) listen to?
We saved this one for last because it should be your last resort or saved for a portion of the budget that you just want to experiment with. It’s worth mentioning though because if your team is interested in the industry you’re selling to, they can be a valuable resource for new ideas. Ask your customers too - include a survey or single-line form in a marketing email just to see what comes through.
This suggestion comes with a lot of caution tape because it’s often full of cognitive bias and not an accurate representation of your audience’s behavior.
How to buy podcast ads
Get in touch with the right contact to place your ad
We’ve seen brands try some crazy things to find new shows and get in touch with the right contact to place an ad.
Helix Sleep admitted to sending out pillows when their emails went unanswered.
Manscaped paid for ad space in Podnews to reach podcasters. They also posted to Quora asking for suggestions.
One unnamed clothing brand shared that they threw underwear onto the stage at a Joe Rogan live event in an effort to get their ads on the show. It didn’t work.
There are easier ways to track down the right contact. It can be difficult to work out who actually sells the ads but we have some tips to get you started.
- Your first stop should always be a podcast’s website if they have one. You’ll often find a contact form or an email address.
- Twitter and Instagram are important tools for podcasters to grow their audience so they’re usually pretty responsive. Provide your email address in your message or tweet to make it easy for whoever is behind the keyboard to pass along your contact information.
- Large networks and shows make a media kit publicly available with their ad seller’s contact information included alongside details about their audience and content. Depending on the show, it may be bundled with other advertising options (digital, events, etc).
- LinkedIn searches can help you track down people employed by the show, network, or producer to narrow down the right contact. Then, if you don’t have a premium LinkedIn account to send messages within the network, you can use a tool like hunter.io to help you find a contact’s email address.
Vetting shows and building your media plan
You’ve reached out to all the shows on your shortlist and it’s time to make some decisions.
If it wasn’t included in the media kit for the show, be sure to ask your ad selling contact for the show’s download numbers, inventory availability, and upcoming episode topics. You’ll likely also want to get a sense of who their past advertisers were and what other brands will be featured in upcoming episodes to avoid any direct competition.
Next, you’ll want to determine how many ad placements and/or how long your partnership will last. Choose a mix of shows to test and plan to run ads for 6-8 weeks. This way, the audience will hear your brand mentioned more than once and you’ll have an adequate window to track the campaign’s impact.
For host-read ads, each podcast host has their own style of delivery. If the show is featured on www.reallygoodpodcastads.com you can find and listen to ads from published episodes. To get you started, the contract should outline what the host expects from you. It’s best to provide some talking points that allow the host to relate your product to their content or inject a personal story. However, some hosts may ask for a full script and prefer to read the ad exactly as written.
Sign your IO, deliver the assets and listen up! Ensure that your coupon codes and/or vanity URLs are set up and functioning as expected to track your metrics.
Follow up and tracking
Once the episodes with your ads have been published, it’s in your best interest to check that the ads ran as expected with an aircheck. Your ad selling contact may be able to provide the sound clip or timestamp for when your ad ran in the episode (this often takes close to a week). Magellan AI includes an aircheck feature that will deliver the sound clips of your ads within 24 hours of publishing. It may be tempting to skip this step but it’s crucial to the success of your campaign. Be sure that your URL, promo code, brand name, and offer were delivered clearly and spelled correctly. If you find an error, it’s fair to ask for an additional placement or small extension of your campaign as a make-good.
Dynamic insertion vs. baked-in
The process we’ve outlined so far explains how to buy host-read, baked-in ads on a single podcast. There are several other ways to buy ad inventory and it helps to know the difference between the types of ads.
Baked-in podcast ads are recorded right along with the episode’s content and live on in the recording forever, regardless of when or where the episode is downloaded.
Pros: Advertisers benefit more from baked-in ads because they pay the cost of the placement up front and benefit from the show’s audience growth over time. Especially when the podcast topic is story-based or evergreen (think: Serial vs a daily news show). This is also the only format that allows hosts to weave their ad reads into the content of the show and provide a more relevant delivery to the podcast listeners.
Cons: Once an ad has run, there’s no way to go back and update it. If something was misspelled or the offer was incorrectly delivered, the best thing to do is agree on a make-good for future ads.
Dynamic podcast ads refer to those that are recorded separately from the podcast content and delivered to listeners based on specific audience demographics like a podcast listener’s location, age, gender, device, and content that they’re listening to. Sometimes, a publisher will offer a package of dynamically inserted ads on their own shows (like NPR’s pre-roll and post-roll ads) but oftentimes you’ll buy these placements on an exchange that places ads on hundreds of shows like RedCircle, Zvook, or Advertisecast. These pre-produced ads can be read by the host, a producer, or fully produced by an outside creative team.
Pros: Advertisers can benefit from the added layers of targeting as well as keeping their messaging fresh, updating offers, and responding to current events.
Cons: Advertisers may not know which shows their ads appear in or what other advertisers are running in the same show. Depending on how the ad is produced, dynamically inserted ads can be a very disruptive experience for the podcast listener.
If this all sounds like a lot of work - it is. Podcast advertising is quickly catching up to other marketing channels in its maturity and complexity. New tools are emerging for finding podcasts, placing ads, measuring impact, and optimizing performance - it’s easy to get lost in all the options. Just like you would for any other channel, be sure to clearly define your goals, KPIs, and how you’ll measure ROI before you start running your first campaign. Then, determine what types of technology fits those needs to help you get started and grow your presence in the channel. Along with Sounds Profitable, we developed The Podscape to help you understand how all the tools and services fit together in podcast advertising.
When you’re ready to scale up your advertising, track your competitors, and discover some hidden gem shows, schedule your custom demo of Magellan AI.