Podcasts were always mean to have ads, not only because it is one way to fund the show, but the influence of the host has tremendous power. Now that the podcasting community is growing, advertisers see the opportunity that lies in this form of media consumption. Dated ads can turn off listeners because who would want to listen to an ad of an event that happened two years ago? Learn more about the evolution of baked in and dynamically inserted podcast ads and the impact it makes in an episode.
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Baked In Versus Dynamic Insertion Podcast Ads Really Explained
We’ll address an article that came out in Forbes from the Forbes Agency. It’s their own media agency that talks about ad results. They survey and they make an assessment of different ad types and different things like that. They’re talking about podcast ads. They called it The Podcast Ad Playbook: Baked-In Versus Dynamic Insertion Ads Explained. I looked at it and I thought, “I think they’re two years out of date.” I read this article and was quite shocked. First of all, it’s not a terribly deep article. It’s not very long. I was really shocked at how, especially in this day and age as podcasts are getting more and more popular and advertisers are recognizing podcast as a great opportunity, one that they can no longer afford to ignore, the authors of this article so over-simplified this like it was two years ago. Ad Results Media, they’re an audio and digital advertising agency, and they call it audio podcasts plus radio. The thing about it is that it really is out of date with how advertisements work. They skipped a whole bunch of genre of ad insertions that they don’t even know about yet, which is what I think is the case is they just don’t even know that people are doing these right now. Maybe they don’t know; that would shock me. The reality is they really would have the reader believe there are only two different ways to put ads in podcasts, and there’s just not.
Let’s talk about that, baked-in podcast ads. It’s the original way to do it. Think back to radio. In a radio show, a host might make an on-air mention. That would be a baked-in ad. We were watching Howard Stern and he starts talking about this just right after the weather. He immediately goes into something about a toy store that’s opening up or something like that. Those are the kind of things that they’re talking about. It might be host-mentioned and it’s highly likely to be that part. In fact, the authors of this article would have you believe that is the definition of a baked-in ad. It’s only a host-mentioned ad. There are a lot of great benefits to a host-mentioned ad in podcasting. Your audience gets to know, like and trust you as the host. If you’re endorsing something or recommending something, the number of people that convert to that ad, that ratio is going to be very high compared to a more of a commercial pre-recorded ad. To me baked-in means it’s edited in the podcast and it lives there forever. It’s edited when the original show is edited, and it’s left there forever. The reality is people have been baking in pre-recorded commercial ads in podcasts for a long time as well. With podcast, because of the way that they’re done, you’re not streaming the ads. You’re putting them in, so you are baking them in. You’re editing them in. They’re in that file. They’re not dynamically streamed. It’s not like the podcast is downloading or streaming from one place and then they’re going to pause that streaming, like YouTube does or even if you watch a video on CNN. They’ll pause the video and then they’ll stream an ad in, and that’s really coming from a different place.
This is where we see the fundamental flaw in what they presented here. Recorded ads and the insertion process, how you record them. Is it the host? Is it pre-recorded by some other agency? How that happens or what the ad content itself is, is irrelevant to the process by which you insert them. That’s the disconnect. That’s what they don’t get. That’s what we really wanted to make really clear here because there are companies like ours who have this ability to take any ad of any kind, whether or not you as a host have recorded it or your sponsor has recorded it or whatever, we can take them in and put them out then pull them right back out at a moment’s notice, dynamically or on demand, across your entire library. It has nothing to do with the type of ad. The technology for delivering the ad is not limiting to what type of ad you create. That’s the thing we want all of you to understand. We have people on our platform, including us and others, who are actually creating their own ads for their own future events or for their own coaching or training programs or whatever other call to action they had, but it’s their own ads. You still don’t want to bake that into your episode because your episodes are going to live on for years.
We just recorded our 500th episode on WTFFF. I can’t even imagine if we were advertising for an event or something that happened early on. How dated would that be? It’s irrelevant. When you have irrelevant content, it hurts. When you have outdated content, it hurts the rest of the content you recorded because then it dates that. You want to have timeless binge-able content. It calls into question the currentness or the relevant nature of what you talk about in your episode if you’ve got an old ad. That just doesn’t make sense. The reality is you can record your own ads for your own events. They can be dynamically inserted. They can be changed on demand. You can run ads for a week, two weeks, a month, it doesn’t matter, and then change them out.
The other thing this article was also having you believe is that if you’re going to have a dynamically inserted ad, that is only going to be an ad that is pre-recorded in a more commercially produced spot, maybe with its own music and with a special announcer or whatever. A highly-ad agency produced that maybe, and that those are the only kind that you would dynamically insert. You would only dynamically insert ads if you had a really huge number of downloads per month. That’s the other mistake. That doesn’t matter in this case in which we, on Pod.ad, we are able to put ads across our entire library, our entire back catalogue. If we have 100,000 plays in a month, we get 100,000 listens on that advertisement instead of only the single episode count. That’s really the outdatedness of this article as well. I really want to just step back a little bit because I think what they missed the point on, there are advantages and disadvantages to how you record advertisements with podcast audiences and how they perceive those ads. There are advantages and disadvantages to the method in which you deliver those ads if you take each in isolation. I think that’s where we should head with our conversation here, rather than debunk their article because it’s not worth it.
Let’s talk about host ads or live-endorsed ads, you can call them whatever you want, endorsement ads, when the host is speaking the advertisement, the sponsorship or whatever it is, the call to action. Let’s talk about the advantage of that versus the more marketing and advertisement traditional ad with music and other things that might be done. We’ve done both. We’ve had advertisers pay us for a month-period of time and put their ads across all the episodes that aired that month. We did bake them in originally because from a technological perspective, that’s all we could do. They were highly produced by ad agency or internal advertising marketing department at a corporation. I think that the difference is when you’re endorsing something and it’s not something that you use everyday as a host, for me that’s where I drew the line personally from a hosting perspective. It was easy for us to choose and say that, “Yes, we would do a call to action. We would do a live ad,” and we did. We did our host-recorded ad because we were users so it made it a little more genuine and authentic. When we were talking about it, we were of course hitting their important points that they wanted to make, but we had relevant personal experience to discuss that with or to mention that in. We treated it in like an ad-lib sense. We certainly didn’t read a script, and I think it worked better. I think it was a better response and the click-through rate was higher and the call to action definitely got action.
We had a 37% return on our advertisements. I don’t think we saw less event one because when we would throw to the highly-produced ad, we did a personal throw. We did an endorsement throw to that ad. If you get into those situations, you can do it either way where you’re saying, “I really appreciate this sponsor. They’re coming on. They’d like to tell you a little bit about this thing. Please give them some attention because they’ve given us some or they’ve made this show possible.” Even if you just say something as simple as that, you’re helping your sponsor out and making sure that their ad gets a little bit more attention, and you’re personalizing it for the audience. I think that that’s really the point; your audience is my audience I care about. All of you out there, I care about you tremendously in making sure that you get value. I’m not going to sell you out for ad dollars. It’s not worth it. There’s not enough ad dollars especially early stages in our early episodes of the podcast, in the early days of the podcast, until you get to higher values of audience or higher numbers of downloads. It’s not worth it to give away that audience on something that you don’t think matters or is relevant to them. We just don’t choose to do it, but that’s where we come in and say though, “If we’re telling you we like something, we’ve used it and it works.” I’m doing it not just because of ad dollars. I’m doing it in service. I think audiences respond to it and that’s why I believe that podcast click-through rates, podcast conversion rates on advertisements are higher.
There’s another reality to even the more commercially-produced ads. Audiences get very attached to their hosts. They like them or they wouldn’t keep coming back and listening. They want them to keep providing more content. I think there is a reality that certainly podcast listeners don’t mind listening to ads regardless of what kind they are, even if they are not read by the host or hosts. They don’t mind listening to them because they know, “This is helping fund them continuing to do their podcast, to continue to bring me this content new and fresh every week that I’m really enjoying listening. I don’t mind listening to that ad.” Even podcast listeners in that mindset actually make them more receptive to whatever that commercially-produced ad is pitching to them. They’re presuaded to listen to it. Not persuaded, they’re presuaded. It means they’re set up to be more responsive to it. I think that they will, in reality, respond and patronize that advertiser more than they might through another medium.
I do think it’s wise when the host of a podcast has the ability to choose or even has some editorial control in vetoing an advertiser that might advertise on their show. You want even commercial advertisements to be relevant to your audience in the general sense. If you’ve got a show that’s about real estate investing, then I think advertisements from financial institutions might be a good fit for that. A financial institution ad would probably not make sense on Feed Your Brand. You don’t want to get something so disconnected. You want something relevant because you obviously want to be offering something that would be of use or of value to your audience. We have to think about this in terms of the difference, especially the writer of this article, the viewpoint is of the advertiser side of things. All that they really care about is getting enough ears on those ads of the right type of people. They don’t care about you and your brand and the audience you’ve built and you’ve worked so hard and the fact that you’re doing all this. They just want to ride the wave. You have to be the control factor in that. That’s why I think that looking at it and saying, “Would I use this? Is this relevant? Is this in service?” Then that makes the decision for you between baked-in and dynamic. I think if you make that decision to say, “I’m going to put this in my episode and I’m going to do a throw to it. I’m going to do the live,” it doesn’t matter which way you do it again, we’re still talking about that, but you’re making a decision. If you want to run one on the very front and the very end like they do on YouTube, you have a detachment to it. That’s merely a, “This is funding the show but I’m not endorsing this.” There’s a big difference there, and that’s really where I say that dynamic insertion level, the ones that are streaming insertion levels, they have a detachment to them and I don’t think they get as much response.
I think the technology of whether you dynamically insert them or bake them in is really independent of the type of the ad and which type of ads are going to convert more or get more attention and all those things because you can bake in or dynamically insert any of these. If you’re going to dynamically insert an ad across 50 different shows in order to get an aggregate number of ears on there that’s in the millions in a given week, you’re probably not caring so much about a match between that ad and that audience. That’s the way radio works. That’s why radio works the way it is, and that’s why it really has low conversion rate. Somebody’s going to remember it and write it down, they’ve got to have heard it enough. It’s got to have multiple impressions on you. That’s not the case when you’re in the midst of a podcast that you listen to regularly and do all of that. It’s a lot more impressionable at the time that it happens, especially stands out if you don’t do a lot of ads. If you only do one ad per show or a maximum of two, it really stands out then if you’re not over-advertising. Radio was more of a shotgun approach to advertising because you’ve got all walks of life listening to a show or to the radio. Maybe at times, there was a show on radio that you could reasonably predict has a certain kind of audience, but not to the level of podcast. People are downloading and listening to podcasts because they want to. They’re not just randomly running out on the airwaves, “There’s nothing to do so I’ll just got this on in the background.” It doesn’t work like that. Your audience has to intentionally go and get it. When you’ve got a relevant ad, there’s going to be a higher conversion rate.
I do want to just make a little aside about the quality of the ads that you place, keep them short. The ones that are short and don’t do a tremendous amount of interruption to the show. If you do a longer one, do them rarely, do them like a special. Keep them short. Keep them 30 seconds or less. It’s really important to do that because the audience is there to consume and you don’t want them to get annoyed by these very long, wordy ads, especially for all those podfasters out there who are going to listen to many episodes in a row. That’s why we like the dynamic ad insertion because you can run one fifteen or twenty-second spot in one episode and then for the same company, a different spot, fifteen to twenty seconds, in the next episodes. You can alternate them and it’s not as much repetition of the actual same ad, but it is repetition of the brand and the message or a call to action.
Sometimes it takes multiple impressions of somebody listening to an ad before they will take action. That’s why sometimes when we record an ad, we’ll do multiple versions of it and just save them, and we’re like, “That one was pretty good. Let’s do these three,” and we’ll rotate them in a dynamic sense. You’re just mixing it up a little bit. Even if you’re going to have a commercially-produced ad with the dynamic insertion, what we would do is record a little specific throw to it of us at the beginning of it, and then a transition sound back out of the end of it. It actually makes more sense setting it up or in context. It’s not just throwing in the middle. You can always do that. You can always require of your advertisers a 15-second and a 30-second spot, so they can take the ad and they just edit it. A lot of them do that, especially if you’ve got a professional ad group that knows what they’re doing for audio ads. You can make that a requirement so that you have something to mix it up with so that there isn’t a lot of repetition of episodes in a row. That’s how we do it. We randomize it.
The key though is, of course, having a certain quantity level of plays. In terms of our world with the way our system works across all your episodes, it’s on your monthly total plays across all episodes. It’s not just in a given single episode or only the new ones that publish that month. 10,000 to 20,000 plays is a good place to start where you can get some good advertisers who want to reach your niche audience. As you grow from there, your options just become greater. You can really monetize it. The options are becoming more and more as time goes on as more marketing agencies and advertising agencies are targeting podcasts for advertising. I think it’s an old world advertising model that is looking at it in this digital eye and they’re not looking at it from, “What could you have done? What could you be doing differently?” They’re looking at, “This is a system we have set up. How can we force feed it into podcasting?” That’s where it’s falling apart there. That’s why streaming is a lot easier, dynamic insertion via streaming, and that’s the way we want to differentiate it here.
Let’s talk a little advantages and disadvantages of doing them inside the episode and streaming on the front and back because that’s all that streaming companies can do. Although you might think the world is changing so much where we have Wi-Fi on planes and you can hardly get away from having a cellphone signal. You would think, “We’re all connected, our devices are connected all over the place, so why shouldn’t everything be streaming?” Believe it or not, we’ve actually done some surveys on this and read some stats on it, and still the vast majority of podcast are actually downloaded and not streamed. Meaning, they’re downloaded to your device usually overnight and then you are listening to them at a later time on your device whenever you want. The ads cannot be streamed from streaming services unless you have an active internet connection and you’re actually using an app that’s intentionally streaming the ad. In that case, your podcast is being served as a file that’s stored on a server somewhere and it’s being started and stopped, paused at times, to then serve you an ad that’s coming in live over the internet from somewhere else. Those are the worst ones.
Many of the streaming services just simply do it before your show starts and as your show ends. The ones that are the worst ones are the ones who have authorization, because you put them on their platform and they just stop and you might be stopped mid-sentence. It’s terrible. There’s no regard for your show in the timing of that and it just annoys. I think that those are the ones, at the end of the day, that lose the most listeners. What we did has one foot in each camp. We’re talking about Pod.ad which Pod.ad is, for those that are using our production services on our platform, it is the basis underneath our RSS server. It’s the hosting platform automatically has advertisement capability as a part of it. You subscribe to it. You pay for it. It’s a part of that service, it’s there.
In order to be compatible with absolutely every podcast listener out there, we decided we need to be compatible with apps and people that are going to download those podcasts and those that are also going to stream them. Even conventional podcasts do get streamed from time to time, depending on the app you’re using and the service you’re listening through. What you’re streaming is a pre-recorded mp3 file at the end of the day. That’s what a podcast is. That’s what’s distributed. We came up with a way that as a podcast host producer using the Pod.ad system, you can predetermine specific locations in every episode where you want ads to go. You don’t have to edit them and bake them in. You upload them separately to the system, but then you push a button and they are automatically put in all of your episodes in the correct place. Your brand matters. Your show matters. Your audience matters to you. You can have full control. We wanted it to be able that you could block out entire episodes that you just did not want to have advertisements on. That you could make it so that you have one or two or three spots that you didn’t have a requirement, that you also didn’t have wasted spots, like we think after the end of the show is such a wasted spot. Why even bother?
You push a button on our system and the ads are automatically put into all of those episodes and then they are downloaded for those that download them and they’re streamed for those that stream. It really doesn’t matter which way people listen to them. You can run a campaign for a week and then you could take all those ads out. Just push a button and they’re gone. You can run it for a month and then upload new ads that get replaced. It never changes the original file name. It never changes your statistics. All those things continue to build so that you have all that accurate data for future advertisers to consider. We are dynamically inserting ads, but we’re not doing it like you noticed on YouTube or Netflix or places like that or Hulu. You have no idea what’s going to run on the front of your video and you have no control over it and it doesn’t matter to you. It also has limited viewership and click-through so you don’t even get the high value from your show. It just gives you complete control. The most important thing is you never have an old episode playing an old ad, unless you want it to. You can exclude certain episodes from having new ads put into them if you want.
I also just want to add a side note that we define ad here but that could be any announcements, it could be partnerships, it could be promos for your partners, your JVs, your alliances. It can be any of those things that an advertisement is not a strict jingle. That’s a broader definition of it. We also do charity throws. You might want to get your audience accustomed to having an ad spot at all times. I would do it after 25 episodes. I don’t usually recommend it before then. There might be special shows that’s an exception for. If you wait until after 25 episodes and then you say, “I’d like to get my audience used to this. I’d also like to test out the conversion rate.” Give your spot in donation, to an organization, a non-profit or just anything you support. You’re endorsing that support of that. Go ahead and do that. Give a spot away and try it and see how it works. That’s a great way for you to serve and to contribute to others who could really use some free exposure and also get your audience used to the idea of listening to ads within your episode. Also, train yourself as a host because if you’re not used to doing a throw to ads, it can mess you up a little bit. It’s just one of those things where it can also give you the experience of the expectation of, “This is where I actually do want to put them in at all times and I’m always going to do a throw.”
This is a problem that we had, for instance. I’m just going to use an example. We always say here in our show, “Let’s go straight to the interview.” What if you didn’t go straight to the interview and an ad interrupted that? You sound like you didn’t know what you’re talking about or you had no intention of it and then you sold them out. It could have that kind of effect. Either you have to then edit it out you saying that and re-do the insertion to the ad or you just get used to saying, “That’s not my spot. I want to put my spot somewhere else and I do want to go straight into the interview.” That’s the decision we made. We like to go straight into our interviews but it’s just our personal preference. We would have had to change our method for how we recorded it if we hadn’t made that decision. Instead, we have a pre-recorded intro to our shows with music and we would run an ad right after that. Before we ever talk on that new episode, that’s where we decided to put if there’s one upfront. If there’s one in the middle of the episode, we don’t plan it necessarily when we’re recording every episode, instead we’ll find a good place to pause. Before the ad, either we will say, “We’ll be right back with the answer to that question right after a word from our sponsor,” or something like that. You ask a question then you pause before you get the answer. You’ve thrown to the ad in the ad recording, not in your episode.
Another place that we also think is a really good spot too is if you do like we do and you do a post-discussion after an interview or you do a recap after the interview, a little summary after that right at the end of the interview to run the ad before you do the post-discussion. Then you can always say, “We’ll be right back after an ad from our sponsor or after a message from our sponsor with our discussion and our summary of what we thought of this episode.” “We’ll get back with our final thoughts,” or whatever. You’re making a throw to specifically do that. Again, that goes on the ad itself. You don’t have to plan that in. It allows you to go back through your old episodes and be able to insert it at a spot that makes logical sense for you. I just want to give a few guidelines there.
I was having a discussion with one of our customers about our podcast ad insertion technology. We were discussing using it in a little different way. They are not ready for paid sponsors but they do have their own events and they have different things that they offer their listeners, which really comes down to different calls to action. They were wondering about A/B testing, different calls to action and then recording the stats on which ones generate more response. We were deciding that what we could do, instead of putting an ad, you have your outro of the show usually with some things you say, “Our website is here. Don’t forget to go to iTunes and give us a rating or review,” or whatever it is you’re going to say in the exit to your show. They would want to put a call to action in there and they’re saying, “Can we just record two different exits to the show?” Instead of having that baked-in in the main mp3 file, we’re going to serve that up like an ad at the end of the show. The consumer, the podcast listener, would be none the wiser. They’d have no idea. Especially for people that have more than one episode per week, they’re thinking, “On the Monday episode, we’ll air this exit to the show with this call to action. On the Wednesday episode, we’ll do this call to action on this episode.” They can measure how many people have listened to each episode because of the statistics. They know how many people then took advantage of the call to action because they have a way to measure that. Now you’re using this podcast insertion technology differently.
You can do that even in just what we were talking about which is having mix of ads. If you might have 30-second, 15-second spots, you can change the call to action or the code that they might go to in response to that. You can put code 15, code 30, whatever it is. You can give them whatever that number is or whatever that might be. You could change it up and you can mix that across all of your episodes as well. You could even do that on a real specific ad. I think it’s a perfect way for them to decide whether or not their ads are actually even working for them, which is a great way or if it is even at the right place to put it. Maybe a call to action needs to be put somewhere more in the middle. That’s where I’m a fan of because I actually think it doesn’t work. The only reason I think that is because I’m a podfaster and I’m a pod-binge listener, so I listen to multiple episodes in a row. As soon as I hit the first note of the intro music, I crash out of the episode and head into the next one. Many, many people do that.
If you start to hear that, “Thanks for listening,” automatically you’ll know because they always have a pattern, especially if it’s pre-recorded, which is why we never pre-record and we don’t do the same exact script in our end of our show every time. It always is different and there’s a reason why we do that. As we go into, “Make sure that you find us on Facebook here and you can find the blog post there on our .com,” the way that we speak it, who speaks it, how it goes, how it flows right out of what the last thing we said, we make it ad hoc, ad-lib, whatever you want to call it. We just do it because we don’t want it to be consistent so that they drop out. Especially toward the end of an episode, you get the danger of people are listening to episode after episode, they’re definitely, “I’ve heard that. Okay, next.” They won’t hear what’s there. That’s why we’re more a big fan of calls to action a little bit sooner up in the episodes or right before the start of it because people don’t want to fast-forward and then miss the opening. Those are better places for all of that.
I hope that you all have gotten something out of this. We just really wanted to make you aware because it’s not just our technology. There are a lot of other things going on in podcast advertisement that is way ahead of what most digital marketing agencies are even advising their clients right now. Everybody has just started dabbling. The last numbers I checked was only 11% of marketing agencies were even recommending podcasting to their clients. With the number of marketing agencies that have been contacting us about our services and what we do, it’s very, very, very clear to us that there are so many looking into it but they do not have enough experience there yet. They can’t possibly know what’s going on. This article that we started this whole podcast of is reflective of the lack of knowledge of what’s actually happening and also the great interest, the great desire. I think that marketing agencies, advertising agencies are realizing they’re behind the eight ball with the opportunity to reach people through podcasting. The interest is growing. That 11% number is going up every month. I think it’s going to climb tremendously. There’s great opportunity and monetization to be had from doing it, but still doing it in the right way, that’s really a good fit for your audience, that doesn’t hurt the integrity of your show or the listenership; there are things to consider.
We hope that this episode has helped you get a little bit of understanding about how you might monetize your podcast through podcast advertising and what that might look like for you as you’re thinking about the future of your podcast, whether or not you’ve started it. If you haven’t started it yet, you might want to go to one of our past episodes we had pretty recently about why you should start it now and get going because you’re missing out on what is a growing market right now. That’s the number one question people ask me, “How soon should I start?” I was like, “You should have started already. There’s no time like the present.” You should have started already especially if you have this monetization plan and you want to take advertisers and sponsorships or just advertise your own events and your own partners. You’re not going to be able to serve and it’s not going to be able to serve you until you get started.
Thanks again for listening. We hope that you’ll go to @FeedYourBrand on Facebook. We’ll talk to you next time. This has been Tom and Tracy on Feed Your Brand.