The Sorry State of Podcast Advertising

Podcast Advertising Business ModelsI find that one of the best ways to keep up with news, technology, politics, and religion is through listening to a variety of podcasts. I started listening to podcasts last year. In fact, any time I’m walking to my office, driving in the car, or doing chores around the house, I am listening to a podcast.

The business model for most of these podcasts is to insert 30 second to 2 minute advertisements throughout the podcast. These advertisements pay for the cost of producing the podcast and the salaries of those involved.

As a current listener to nearly 25 different podcasts, I see an annoying two-fold trend in these podcast advertisements. First, most of the podcasts are advertising for the same companies. Second, most of the podcasts don’t switch up their advertisers so that if you are regular listener, there is no variety in the advertisements.

The Wall Street Journal is one of the worse offenders. WSJ has a variety of podcasts that in 5 minutes or less cover the headlines about a particular section of the news. I listen to the morning news and the tech news briefing. They always have the same advertisements. It’s either Edward Jones, Audible.com, or some cheap dress shirt you can order online. I’ve probably listened to well over 250 WSJ podcasts and have only come across these three advertisements. It’s a waste.

Of all the podcasts I listen to, Audible.com is the most-advertised company of them all. There is a good reason for these advertisements. Audible.com offers a nice Affiliate advertising platform where the advertiser can make money when customers become Audible.com customers. Most companies do this by offering a free month to Audible.com using a special code or URL. This way, Audible.com can track how many people joined because of the podcast.

I’m not a big fan of advertisements within podcasts. I know they are necessary for me to enjoy the podcast for free, but they are also an annoyance and a break in the information. Podcasters could make this less painful by switching up the advertisements every now and then. Podcasters have the benefit of advertising to a captive targeted audience. I have a hard time believing that the best target then is Audible.com for so many of these podcasts. There must be other companies out there who would benefit by advertising to a specific target market. Companies should begin seeking out podcasts as an additional advertising avenue.

One business model that has gotten around the idea of funding a podcast through advertisements is what is referred to as the Value for Value model. This model is employed by the “No Agenda” podcast. Listeners are encouraged to give money to the podcast in the amount of the value they believe is derived by listening to the podcast. Some people will send in $25 and other people will send in $1000+. Once a solid listening base has been established, this model is very effective, especially if the podcast has the need to rip into specific companies from time to time. If those companies are advertisers on the podcast, that podcast is not going to rip into the company funding the podcast. For the No Agenda podcast, instead of taking time for advertisements, they take time to thank their Value for Value donators, so time is still used during the podcast, but this is usually tied into discussions already occurring during the podcast.

A Note to Marketers & Podcasters

Marketers and Podcasters – please listen – switch up your advertisers. As a listener, you will offer me more value by advertising for a number of different companies instead of the same ones every time I listen to your podcast. I realize you may have people randomly listen in on a podcast, but it seems to me that most people who listen to podcasts have a routine. They listen to the same podcasts each morning.

Erik Rostad

Author Erik Rostad

Erik Rostad started EPR Creations in May 2008. He works with universities, international organizations, and executives on their online presence.

More posts by Erik Rostad

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