New to monetizing?

Here are 4 things to know about podcast sponsorships.


Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Podcasting is having a moment right now and you’re ready to reap the benefits. Time to land those big sponsors. Not so fast…

You may have read *that* New York Times article. A couple of friends start a podcast, then quit shortly after when Casper and Blue Apron didn’t knock down their door.

Cue the world’s smallest violin.

You may have heard, there are a lot of podcasts out there. You may have also heard that there’s some money in this game. But even if you’re an audio veteran, have an established audience, or a recognizable brand, the bar is getting higher as competition heats up for advertiser dollars.

The decision to monetize, and make podcasting your full-time job, shouldn’t be taken lightly and you probably have a lot of questions. Will the audience hate it? Will your show end up sounding like everyone else’s? What exactly attracts quality advertisers? Here’s what you need to know about monetizing your podcast with ads.

1. Selling ads in your show does not mean selling out

We repeat: selling ads does not mean selling out. Podcasting may just be one of the few remaining mediums left where audiences are cool with sponsors. When Tim Ferris ran an experiment to see if his listeners would rather pay for his content than hear ads — he had to cut it short. His fans actually missed the ads.

78% of podcast listeners don’t mind the ads because they know that sponsors help fund the content they love. Podcasts have also become a go-to for finding new products and discovering new brands. To generate repeat business and deliver value for your audience you’ll need to know how to read great ads. Great ad reads will come with practice, but in the meantime, you can’t go wrong with trying the product and being yourself.

Pro tip: Podcasters who have nailed sponsorships have learned how to make their ads part of the experience. Want your listeners to look forward to the mid-roll break? Make them personal by giving listeners a peek into your life outside the podcast. Make a connection with a relatable situation that this product will help solve. Make them educational with some supporting research. You can monetize and still retain the feel of your show, just remember to entertain first and sell second.

2. Keep expectations in check

Big-named brands are taking notice of the attractive environment podcasts have to offer. But despite double-digit ad revenue growth in 2017 and 2018, podcasters who make 6-figure salaries are the exception and not the norm. These guys also happen to be savvy marketers who spend money on advertising, get the right press coverage, and leverage their brand name to sell tickets to live shows and merch.

Sponsorships won’t come easy, or immediately. Creating high-quality content and building a strong, loyal audience always comes first. Landing a sponsor should be the cherry on top.

Pro tip: Just as you have worked to make your show stand out from the crowd, your ads can be different too. Everyone wants the Caspers and Squarespaces on their show, but think beyond direct response brands. Increased interest from marketers and agencies is bringing in traditional advertisers (but non-traditional podcast advertisers) using the space for branding campaigns. Brand spend in podcasts is growing five times as fast as DR. Another perk for getting sponsors that other podcasts don’t have? Your listeners will appreciate not hearing the same ads they hear everywhere else.

3. Decisions, decisions

Determine where you may want sponsorships to run, either before, during, and/or after the content, making sure you stick to a flow that’s natural and doesn’t disrupt the conversation. What kind of ads are you going to accept? Are you going to take pre-rolls, mid-rolls, and post-roll reads? How many of each will you allow? Do you have a segment in your show that would be perfect for an advertiser to sponsor? How flexible will you be for advertisers looking for custom opportunities? The answers to these questions will ultimately depend on the format and length of your podcast, but make these decisions from the get-go so your show sounds consistent.

Pro Tip: To DI or not to DI? Dynamic Insertion is an option for creators who want more flexibility. You can still voice all the ads, but each spot is seamlessly inserted into the audio using the sponsor’s campaign parameters. Pick the points where ads should appear in each episode and record the reads on your schedule. You can even monetize your entire back catalog with a hosting platform like Megaphone. Whether an episode is a few days old, or a few months old, your new sponsor will be heard in all of it.

4. Really get to know your audience

You know your audience is unique. Just as your content uniquely serves them, so should your ads. Promoting products that don’t fit their needs can be a huge faux pas that can hurt the trust between listener and host. Take the time to identify what pain points your listeners have. If your base is largely millennial males, a mail-order shaving service may just be the time-saving solution they need. Or if your pod attracts busy business professionals, a mindfulness app can help address day-to-day stress.

While being flexible is key, it’s ok to say no to a sponsor you don’t fully believe in too. If you can’t get behind something, then how can your audience? A deep understanding of your fan base will benefit them while helping you sell the show to the right advertisers.

Pro Tip: Time to assemble the evidence that your audience is awesome, and make the case to sponsors that they are the perfect fit. Exhibit A: general demographics breaking down age, location, and gender. Exhibit B: a listener survey that digs deeper into their lifestyle, household income, and buying habits. Exhibit C: testimonies from your fans who have bought and loved the products you’ve sponsored.

If you’re ready to hustle, you need the right team in your corner. We offer monetization and hosting solutions so you can get back to doing what you do best — creating awesome content. Visit for more. | Sign-up for our newsletter