DI Versus Baked In Podcast Ads

Which delivery method is right for your campaign? [Infographic]

photo: Serpstat via StockSnap.io


[This post was updated July 2021]

Podcast listeners have strong opinions about ads. They actively avoid them, flocking to ad-free streaming video platforms or cutting the cord altogether. But when listening to their favorite podcast, and the host shares their personal experience with a new product, they’re all ears.

71% of respondents recalled the advertised brand after hearing a host-read podcast ad compared to 62% of those who heard a non-host read ad.

– Nielsen Podcast Ad Effectiveness Survey

The podcast host read is what made the medium truly unique and highly appealing for intrepid advertisers. The host gets your copy or talking points and when they record an episode, your ad gets recorded along with it in the content. That ad will be heard in that episode forever, by everyone who hears that episode, until it’s manually removed.

However, with little flexibility and even less transparency, this ‘baked-in’ method of delivery didn’t make sense for all brands. Enter dynamic ad insertion (DAI, for short) – allowing any and every advertiser to dive in, test the waters, and help grow the industry.

Let’s talk about what DAI is, how advertisers can use it, and debunk a few myths along the way.

First, what is DAI?

Simply put, DAI refers to the technology that allows for the delivery of an ad through an ad server. A scripted :30, a personal endorsement, or a custom piece of content — any form of pre-produced audio can be dynamically inserted.

The audio is sent to the ad server with a set of specific campaign parameters (flight dates, geo-targeting, etc). When a podcast episode is requested by the player the server looks for the right ad to serve based on those parameters. The appropriate ad is inserted into the episode and gets sent back to the player for the listener to enjoy. For a deeper dive, check out Sounds Profitable’s more techy take on how DAI is like Madlibs.

How can DAI work for your brand?

Offering more flexibility and options, DAI can work with any campaign for any type of advertiser. The advertiser gets more value by addressing the right audience and avoids ad fatigue, while the listener gets a more customized experience. 

Change creative on the fly so whether the listener is on episode 1 or episode 201, your ad creative is always fresh and never out of date. Control flighting and ad frequency so the listener won’t hear the same ad over and over again as they binge a series. Use geo-targeting (by availability) so a listener in Canada won’t hear the ad for a product only available in the U.S. 

In addition to greater campaign control, there is also the benefit of scale. Your spots are pre-recorded by the host(s) and inserted into the content of a podcast, the show’s back catalog, and/or across a network to maximize your reach.

Now, let’s clear something up…

Pre-produced does not equate to radio creative. As we mentioned earlier, any piece of audio can be dynamically inserted – including host reads. If done right, the reads can sound just as seamless as a baked-in. This technology can and should be used by advertisers for host-read ads whenever possible. Brands can get the best of both worlds: the authenticity of the host’s voice AND all the capabilities DAI offers.

Host reads do more with DAI.

Host reads work, period. That’s why we have put a priority on them since day one. Dynamic insertion lets them work even harder. With the ability to layer segment targeting, impression tracking, and 3rd-party pixel attribution – know exactly who you are reaching and how your campaign is performing.

While there are specific instances a baked-in campaign can accept pixel tracking, for the most part, once the host read is baked into that episode the advertiser will have little insight or control over what happens after. 

So are baked-in host reads still valuable?

Baked-in host reads are the ultimate in native advertising – and in some cases, they may be your only option for getting the talent to voice your spot. If your campaign messaging is not time-sensitive, or you don’t mind the lack of targeting and insights, baked-in can still be effective.

So which delivery method is right for your next podcast campaign? We break down the key capabilities for you here:

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