podcast invitation

Podcast Advertising: What Is It, Does Your Brand Need It, and How Much Does It Cost? 

podcast advertising

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In an ever-changing digital age, small businesses need to stay in the loop regarding the best marketing strategies. In addition to a strong online presence that includes engaged communication via social media, most companies also invest in content marketing. Unsurprisingly, the money spent on promoting products and services is expected to grow in 2020.

According to The Manifest, 56% of all marketing-related spending is done on social media, while Google Ads account for 41% of the total sum. Considering the fact that 91% of businesses allotted larger budgets for promotion in 2019, it becomes obvious that advertising is only going to get more expensive. This is why creativity and finding new ways to reach your target audience are crucial.

Why advertise through podcasts?

It’s quite simple – in the last decade, podcasting has gone from being a small-scale alternative to traditional AM/FM to becoming an increasingly popular source of entertainment for millions of people around the world. Just in the US, 51% of the population has listened to a podcast. Furthermore, listeners are genuinely invested in the content, as 49% of listening is done in the home, and 22% in the car (unlike radio, which is mainly listened to at work).

For most brands, this is great news. Not only is there a wide availability of podcasts to advertise through, but they’re also easy to consume on mobile devices, they’re free, and they’ve proven to have an excellent audience engagement.

Add to this the fact that the majority of podcasts allot time for sponsored messages, and you’ve got yourself a great new platform for reaching potential customers.

But how does podcast advertising work?

podcast how does it work

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Well, that depends on how far you’re prepared to go. The great thing about podcasting is that you can take it in a number of directions, depending on what you deem will work best for you. 

Before deciding on a strategy, however, it’s important that you know exactly what you want to achieve. Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Do you want to raise brand awareness? Are you looking for conversions and a sales boost? Or maybe your goal is to have listeners visit your brick and mortar store?

Most importantly: are you willing to make an investment that won’t generate immediate returns? Can you afford to wait? 

If the answer to these last two questions is yes, then it’s time to decide on the way to go about your version of podcast advertising.

1. Sponsoring


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Sponsoring a show is probably the most traditional way of advertising through a podcast. It will also be the #1 choice for most businesses. So how does it work?

To someone who’s never tried it, it all seems relatively simple. Basically, what you do is identify the podcasts whose audience you want to reach (the more people subscribing, the better). Then you contact the host. Some shows plainly state that they’re open to sponsorships, while with others (usually the bigger ones), getting a spot tends to be quite difficult.

Once they get back to you, you agree on the rates, number and type of messages (pre-roll, post-roll, or mid-roll), as well as the contents of the message (you can script your own or let the host come up with a natural way to pitch your services). Then you wait for your ad to run. In theory, once it does, all you have to do is sit back and watch as money pours into your bank accounts.

If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, despite its numerous advantages, even the simplest form of podcast advertising has its setbacks: 


The biggest of these, especially for small businesses and those with limited funding, is the cost of such advertising. Slots can set you back almost anything between a couple of hundred to a few thousand dollars (that’s per episode!). For a number of companies, that’s their entire yearly marketing budget, spent on a single 60-second mention (sometimes not even in the prime, mid-roll spot). Costs can run even higher if you opt for a CPM model that determines cost based on the number of downloads an episode has.  

So what can you do? 

Well, if you’re really set on advertising with a certain show, you’ll have to find a solution to your budget obstacles. You can look into the options available for alternative financing, or agree on a package that will span a longer period and is likely to bring the cost per episode down. You may also try to go with what’s been shown to be successful on YouTube: sending hosts your product and hoping they like it enough to mention it on air.

Slot availability

If you want to expose your brand to a huge audience, you’ll probably have to wait for a while until a sponsored message slot opens up. If you can afford this, then definitely go for it! After all, getting access to thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of subscribers can only be a good thing.

But, if you don’t want to wait, you can start small. Less popular podcasts often have engaged audiences and are easily approachable (and cheaper). Plus, the hosts will be more likely to go out of their way to accommodate your needs.

A good example of sponsored podcasts

podcast example

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Although not all podcasts are open to working with sponsors, you’ll find that most do allow for a number of advertising messages, usually depending on episode length. What’s more, your product or service doesn’t have to have anything in common with the podcast’s genre. 

For example, the newly launched In Bed With Nick and Megan, hosted by comedy stars Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, is sponsored by Squarespace, a web development tool. The ads are easy-to-follow even for those who know nothing about building websites.

2. Recording your own

record podcast

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Podcasting doesn’t require expensive equipment and software, nor extensive knowledge about editing. Apart from a high-quality microphone (and perhaps a stand to keep your hands free), you probably already own everything you need to start recording. But you may be wondering why you’d do such a thing.

Well, you can look at it this way: a podcast can actually serve your business the same way a blog would. It allows you to get original content out to your audience, but with one important distinction: it’s easier to consume than written content, and it’s more likely to leave a lasting impression.

Success story

But who is podcasting for? Well, in theory, it can work for absolutely anyone, but it can be especially beneficial to businesses offering services in specific niches. 

podcast success story

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The Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast is a great example. It’s a 90-minute show hosted by fitness expert Ben Greenfield. In the two weekly episodes, he talks about exercise, nutrition, longevity, biohacking, and more. What makes this particular show a favorite among listeners is the fact that it’s backed by science, and it offers an abundance of interviews with industry experts, which gives them access to reliable information for free. 

You may be wondering how the host benefits from all of this? Well, that’s where the ingenuity of having your own podcast comes in. In addition to reaching out to new clients and being sponsored by a number of businesses, this particular program also serves as a great way to advertise the host’s supplement brand. This means that it’s a source of several different sources of income, in addition to being an advertising strategy.

How you can benefit

Recording definitely has its perks. And you can talk about absolutely anything you want, as long as you believe there’s an audience for it. Overall, the main pros of hosting your show include:

  • Low cost for creating content
  • You can do it alone
  • No previous experience needed
  • The wide availability of platforms to launch on
  • Increasing audiences
  • A potential source of additional income

3. Guest appearances

podcast invitation
Two radio hosts moderating a live show for radio

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Sponsoring and hosting don’t sound appealing? There still may be a way for you to cash in on the perks offered by the medium.

As a business owner, you have invaluable experience regarding a niche subject, and you can use that to collaborate with podcast hosts. Whether you visit their recording facilities or do a Skype interview, guesting as an expert is an excellent way to draw attention to your company.

Not only are you reaching audiences, but you can get backlinks to your website in the show notes, as well as mention your services on air. Additionally, seeing that the host is getting valuable content, your appearance can potentially turn into a regular occurrence.

podcast sample

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A great example of a podcast that is based on guest interviews is The Joe Rogan Experience, a daily show that brings a variety of experts on air to discuss topics ranging from fitness, nutrition, science, business, entertainment, and personal growth. Rogan’s most famous guests included Elon Musk, Mike Tyson, Nick Ferriss, and many more. It turns out, listeners really appreciate this type of content, as it gives them access to different viewpoints, and the chance to learn something new on a daily basis.

How to book an appearance

Although you may not be able to go straight to the most popular podcast on the internet, you can still book appearances you’ll benefit from. The best way would be to either contact the host directly and send them your pitch, or to register on a service such as podcastguests.com, which connects hosts with potential collaborators.

The takeaway

article takeaway

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Whether this particular type of advertising is a good choice for your business will greatly depend on the type of work you do. Luckily, there are several ways of utilizing podcasts to advertise your products and services, so you can choose what will work best. If you want to go all in, you can even use all three ways to get your message across, but that may prove to be quite expensive.


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