Is podcast advertising right for my brand?

Podcasts are a powerful marketing vehicle… but you should take a long look at your brand before you dive into the channel. 

By Eric Smith, Director, Podcast Media

Meta and Google.  They are the gate keepers of advertising.  It’s the low-hanging fruit every marketer always goes to when they’re first starting to market their product or service.  But where do you go when you’ve squeezed every drop of value from those channels?  TV?  OOH?  Snapchat?  I’d argue the natural next place is podcasts… but it’s not for everyone. 

Historically brands have thought of podcasts in a few contexts: “We know it works but there’s not enough measurement” or “It’s just not big enough to truly scale”.  Through new measurement technologies and a rapidly growing advertising market, it’s time for the podcast industry to have its moment. 

The allure of podcasts for big brands

Now I do need to reiterate that I don’t think EVERY brand is right for podcasts.  As much as podcast publishers want the easy money of the Fortune 500, they typically aren’t right for podcasts.  Podcasts are where consumers come to learn, not just from the show they are listening to but it’s a great place to discover new brands too.  I’m well aware of Big Brand X and what they do.  I don’t need a host telling me about Big Brand X or even worse an ad they just took from radio and are now running on podcasts.  

So, is my brand right for podcast marketing?  Someone once told me podcasts are where the “cool” brands hang out, and I think that’s absolutely on point.  It doesn’t mean you have to be some trendy D2C company to advertise on podcasts.  We have several clients who aren’t.  You do need to have an interesting story or unique differentiator a host can get behind. 

Agency vs. In-House

Now that I know my brand is right for podcast marketing, how do I actually do it?  Should I hire an agency or just do it in-house?

I’d recommend an agency because they are the subject matter experts.  They have access to competitive intelligence that a client won’t, and their buying power will help get more efficient rates.  Sure, you can do a B+ version yourself, but that probably won’t work and then it’s a “failed” channel. 

Podcasts are unlike any other marketing channel we handle for clients.  It’s incredibly time consuming, from communicating with the various podcast networks to getting on calls with hosts to properly tracking results.  I’d argue it’s the most time-consuming media channel that exists. 

Do you know what hosts give the best ad reads?  What’s a reasonable CPM to get my direct-response goals to work?  How do I properly write ad copy so the hosts hit my key brand points but don’t sound too scripted?

We get these types of questions all the time.  People like to say agencies don’t bring value. If they are simply doing something that you have the resources to do in-house then that’s absolutely correct.  With that being said, knowledge is power.  Knowing the answers to these questions makes the difference between a successful campaign and a failed campaign… and the vast majority of marketers already have enough on their plates. 

There’s a great scene in the TV show Master of None where Aziz Ansari is looking for tacos… but he doesn’t just want any tacos.  He wants the BEST tacos.  He searches far and wide until he finally finds them.  You come to an agency because you want the best tacos.  You aren’t an expert in something and you want someone who is an expert to do that thing for you.  For that reason, good agencies aren’t going anywhere.  Bloated agencies with cheap, low quality talent might be a 20th century idea.   

If you’d like to get in touch with Eric, you can reach him at