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6 June 2024

Navigating Podcast Advertising: 5 Key lessons from ‘Podcasting – The Balancing Act’ at the Podcast Show 2024.

Podcasts are becoming a more trusted vehicle for advertisers, but how do you balance trust with sponsors?

Podcasting has traditionally been described as an “emerging media”. But, with a marketplace showing 23% year-on-year growth* (and worth an estimated value of £84million in the UK alone in 2023) it’s probably time it was recognized as an established medium that’s competing with other media channels for advertising spend.

With maturity however, comes increased responsibility. 

Bigger brands and advertisers are entering the podcast space all the time and with those big names comes big expectations. How can podcasting cash in on the increased interest in the medium, provide evidence of ROI for advertisers and maintain the authenticity and effectiveness that has made it such an attractive prospect in the first place? 

At this years Podcast Show at the Islington Design Centre in London, Sport Social Managing Director Sophie Hind hosted a panel discussion looking at the opportunities and challenges of advertising in the podcasting space and managing that delicate balance. 

She was joined by Thomas Balaam, Trading Director at Mindshare UK who has been selling audio to brands and advertisers for 20 years. Jake Storer, Influencer Marketing Director Podcasts at NordVPN, who use podcasting with great effect to market their products and Jack Milligan, Global Entertainment Director at Essence Mediacom who have used audio and podcasting as a key part of their media strategy activation.  

The trio joined Sophie to discuss their experiences of working and selling in the podcasting space. These are our five big takeaways from the discussion:

1. Finding the right podcast for the right brand is important

    The power of podcasting is still very much in the relationship between listener and host or show. 

    Whilst podcasting can offer large-scale awareness campaigns via spot advertising it’s “Secret Power” remains in its ability to speak to audiences in a way that most forms of mass communication cannot. 

    The ‘trusted voice’ of a podcast host when promoting a product or service is hard to beat. Listeners have a personal connection towards podcast hosts which enables personal endorsements and reads to be delivered in an authentic and impactful way. 

    With that in mind finding a synergy between brand/product and show/host is at the front of an advertiser mind when looking at which titles to work with. 

    We always find it so important that the host is fully on board with our product. Because I feel with their audiences, they’ll instantly know just by listening to them and how they speak that if they’ve just been given a scripted read it feels ingenuous. We want it to feel like a personal recommendation from a friend.

    Jake Storer, NordVPN

    2. You need a clear objective

      Understanding what you want to achieve with the campaign will help you develop the right podcast strategy. It offers a very different environment to most other mediums. 

      Do you want to educate about a service? Do you want to raise awareness of a brand? Are you trying to drive a response – visits to your website or purchase? Podcasting can offer everything from reach-based marketing campaigns to super-targeted brand messaging – so understanding your campaign objective is essential. 

      A question we get most of the time is; “What can I do in podcasting?”. It’s not too dissimilar to how you’d approach radio in terms of a strategic standpoint. But you’ve got to understand really what is it you’re trying to achieve because it’s so versatile.

      Jack Milligan, Essence Mediacom

      3. Podcasting is finding hard-to-reach audiences

      To paraphrase another famous advertising campaign: Podcasting reaches the places that other mediums cannot. 

      The ability for podcasting to target specific groups has not gone unnoticed. Be it by setting parameters around the delivery of audio inventory, (age, sex, location etc.) or by working with shows that have very specific and targeted audiences, brands and advertisers and using the medium to zero in on their desired target demographic. 

      This ability to find focused, hard-to-reach has bought more clients, brands and advertisers into the audio space who may not have considered audio previously. 

      I’ve seen brands that would work with me over the years that previously had not bought space on commercial radio because they didn’t feel that was their right audience. When it comes to the podcast space, we can actually go out and find that audience because there’s so much content out there that we know that can work for them

      Tom Balaam, MindshareUK

      4. Attribution has changed the game

      As podcasting has matured so have the methods for measuring success. 

      Traditional tools for campaign measurement such as voucher codes or unique vanity URLs have been replaced with full attribution tools that can track audience behaviour across digital media after hearing a podcast advertisement. 

      This development in technology is not only giving advertisers more confidence in the medium, it’s also giving us greater insight into audience behaviour and allowing podcasters to optimise plans based on that information.

      I think attribution is incredibly valuable if we want to keep advertisers coming back. The challenge for us has sometimes been, how we quantify what we’ve done within that host read or campaign.  

      The technology is getting better and better. We’re now starting to gather information on how long should we run the host reads for before we make a change? Or how long does it take for someone to actually take action after hearing the ad? How many times?

      Tom Balaam, MindshareUK


      One of the big takeaways from the Podcast Show was the message that podcasting isn’t JUST audio. 

      The most successful podcasts use their show as a “content engine” around which other elements can orbit. The podcast is the IP but Live shows, paid channels, video content and much more are now all part of many the regular output. 

      This not only provides the opportunity to reach bigger audiences but also creates a whole new catalogue of content which can attract sponsors.

      There is a whole ecosystem of stuff around the audio. Podcasts are becoming brands. We don’t just think “Let’s just do something with the audio”. We work with all the other things that are going on around that.  

      Audiences don’t see in format style, they just see the brand and how they consume it and we have to think like that too

      Jake Milligan, Essence Mediacom

      If you’d like to understand more about how podcasting advertising could work for you or discuss ideas on how you could use the medium for your next campaign then our team of experts are happy to chat. 

      Get in touch: sales@sport-social.co.uk 

      *IAB ‘Surge in CTV & Podcast Spend’

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