Ask an Ad Ops Expert

Harness the Power, Part 3: Podcast Buying Guide 2.0


Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash
You’ve got questions. Our ad ops team has answers.

Podcast advertising is still the newer kid on the block. It’s growing rapidly, it’s changing rapidly, and requires a different approach than other forms of digital media. So let’s address the questions we get the most from advertisers and debunk some misinformation around podcast ads.

Q: Should podcasts be bought based on downloads or impressions?

A: Downloads are a good measure of how many people are listening to a particular show, but impressions are what media schedules should be built on. An impression confirms that an ad was delivered to a listener. One episode can deliver multiple impressions across different units.

Q: Does dynamic insertion mean I can only use a pre-produced ad?

A: No. Dynamic insertion (DI) just uses technology to place an ad in a podcast, instead of the ad being edited into the episode. DI doesn’t dictate the type of ad. Host reads, pre-recorded ads, even custom segments can be dynamically inserted. While dynamic insertion tech allows us to seamlessly schedule any type of audio placement, podcast-first ads, better yet, host reads are strongly recommended.

Q: Where will my ads run? How do I know my ad has been heard?

A: With DI, your ads will still run across major podcast platforms and apps — Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google — wherever the podcast has submitted their feed. Ask if the podcasts you buy are certified or compliant for IAB V2, the standard for measurement that utilizes a strict 24-hour window. A listen only counts once, even if the episode is started and stopped. In addition to knowing that the numbers you bought on will not be inflated, an impression isn’t counted unless your ad is heard.

Q: I want to test first. What’s the optimal buy? How many podcasts should I test?

A: Test campaigns are a great way to gauge how a host and product will jive together. But one midroll in one podcast may not generate results you want. Depending on the product and your target demo, diversify the genres you test as well. We typically recommend at least 4 weeks for a test, these can be back to back or spread out (2 weeks on, 1 week off).

Q: What’s the optimal buy for any campaign? Mid? Pre? Post? How many? How Often?

A: Midroll units should be the meat of your buy. Think of the midroll as the prime time slot, when listeners are the most invested in the content. Use the pre and post positions to reinforce messaging if you want multiple touchpoints with listeners. Every campaign is different, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Work with your partners to map out a plan that addresses your unique goals.

Q: My product is only sold in the U.S. Can I exclude international audiences?

A: Yes. Many DI ad serving platforms (like Megaphone) carry the ability to geo-target by country, state, and DMA. Your ad only gets heard by the audiences eligible to buy your product.

Q: What about over-saturation? Will my copy get stale?

A: There are a few tactics that can be used to keep messaging fresh. Recording multiple versions of a read, rotating a number of different offers and promotions, or taking a brief break between flights. Make sure the partners you work with practice frequency capping to avoid overloading the audience. Frequency capping can also combat ad fatigue if a listener happens to binge on a show.

Q: Talking points? Scripts? Which is better?

A: Talking points, hands down. We’ve found that the best host reads draw on their personality, maybe incorporating a story about their experience with the product. Unlike hard and fast scripts, talking points allow for the wiggle room needed to make an ad part of the conversation. A bulleted list of 2 to 3 key message points plus a straight-forward call to action will give the host something to run with. Bonus points if there’s time for them to sample the product.

Dynamic insertion is something we get asked about…a lot. In part 4 we’ll help you decide if the tech is right for your next campaign.

This is part three of our five-part series.

Part 1: The Podcast Glow Up

Part 2: Understanding the Podcast Ad Environment

Part 3: Ask an Ad Ops Expert

Part 4: Dynamic Mechanics

Part 5: Winning Strategies

You can get the complete Podcast Buying Guide here. | @letscabanadotcom |