The Benefits of Hosts Reading Ads on Podcasts

Lisa Laporte, CEO Artisanal Agency

With brand dollars pouring into Podcast, the industry as a whole is moving away from what made it successful in the first place: Baked-in, host-read ads. Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) is allowing for greater control by marketers, ushering in a flood of brand dollars, and driving the industry toward a new normal with produced ads on their way to overtaking endorsements. Produced ads are easy, cheap to manufacture, and the model scales, without the worry of a host going rogue on your dollar. With the rest of the industry jumping at the chance to streamline their ad sales and open their programming to the highest bidder in an increasingly commoditized landscape, some podcasters are sticking to what’s worked for years. Lisa Laporte, CEO of The Artisanal Agency, makes the case for why host-read ads continue to be the gold standard in this recent article which she has graciously shared with The Influencer for you to enjoy…

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Podcasts are one of the most popular media formats today. Many people utilize podcasts as a way to jumpstart their career, add on a new feature of it, or start all over again. Podcasts are popular, in part, because the set up is so simple. All you really need is a host, a topic, and a microphone. They feel very intimate. However, podcasts can be challenging to monetize, especially if you launch them completely on your own. Lots of people have podcasts, but few make real money at it. Even the hosts of popular podcasts often have day jobs or do other work on the side.

Research by Nielsen shows that consumers understand the challenges of the format. Listeners of podcasts tend to be very loyal. They understand that ads are necessary to ensure continued production of the podcasts they love. And they prefer ads where the host is involved. When the host reads the ads, listeners are better able to remember what the product is. They’re also more likely to feel warmly about the product being advertised. Listeners often feel close to the hosts of their favorite podcasts, which means they trust host recommendations on products and services.

By contrast, when ads run before the podcast starts, listeners have more trouble recalling who the sponsor of the content is. Even when they do remember what the product is, they don’t feel as good about it. The host’s involvement seems to help tie the product in more closely with the podcast. The listener already likes the host, which may account for their increased regard for products in host-read ads.

This research also uncovers some similarities between Podcast and Radio listeners. Radio listeners identify closely with specific hosts and shows. In some cases, they will even follow hosts from one station to another. In radio, it’s long been traditional for hosts to read ads. This type of advertising still happens today and it has always been common with radio.

Nielsen’s research shows that podcast listeners are receptive to ads. When the host reads an ad, listeners are more likely to believe the host uses the product himself or herself. Listeners also admit to trying products they hear about for the first time on a podcast they like. Advertisers who aren’t already taking advantage of Podcast may want to consider it. Ads on podcasts are a great way of connecting consumers with products. That’s especially true when the host reads the advertisement.

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Another podcast giant who shares Lisa’s sentiment is Tim Ferriss, who recently announced that he was discontinuing his fan-supported business model test because his fans actually missed the ads. Ferriss said in a recent blog, “many folks have come to use the podcast and 5-Bullet Friday (his weekly blog) for discovering new products and services.” Having worked with both Tim Ferriss and Artisinal, it bears mentioning that the hosts of these and many other shows genuinely vet every advertiser they endorse and regularly walk away from companies they don’t truly believe in—unfortunately an increasingly rare stance for other podcasters. While DAI is clearly the future of this space (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing when priced correctly), there are thankfully many podcasters like Ferriss and Laporte who continue to deliver highly personalized ads that matter to their listeners.

A note about the author: Lisa Laporte has been a friend and agency partner of Oxford Road since we started back in 2013. In addition to her dual roles as CEO for TWiT.tv and Founder and CEO of Artisanal Agency, Lisa is an accomplished writer on the industry in general, with an emphasis on Podcasting. Thank you Lisa for allowing us to reprint your article!


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