While podcast listenership continued to grow in 2021, interest in the platform as an advertising vehicle was even more intense, with sponsorship demand frequently outpacing supply. In fact, podcast ad spending grew 87% during the third quarter compared to a year ago.
A trend likely to continue well into 2022, publishers are seeking ways to keep pace with their client's needs and budgets beyond the temptation of simply adding more ad units — lest they risk diminishing editorial integrity as well as the ad effectiveness of their shows.
To help counter these challenges, custom content is more frequently leveraged to help drive both ad revenue as well as campaign effectiveness. And while "custom" is a broad category with many capabilities, this post will focus more on the short-form executions that fall in the vein of "Native Advertising."
Coined roughly a decade ago, "native" is a term not routinely applied to podcasting. But regardless of whatever medium it may appear in, Native Advertising is a paid ad that matches a platform's function and the form in which it appears.
On websites, for example, it may function as a written article or video that mimics but distinguishes itself from the actual editorial and flow of the content or program. In podcasting, more organic and even brand-agnostic listening experiences, as opposed to old-school advertorials, are excellent drivers of short-term ROI.
And, when well thought and executed, native podcast ads are additive to the listening experience, delivering content without annoying the listener and/or disrupting the flow of the actual show.
Rooted in audio, the podcasting format makes it sometimes difficult to distinguish advertising content from editorial content since they sound similar.
Sometimes an ad can be predictable when heard in a podcast, especially when presented in a more traditional form. Tone, sound effects, and subject matter help differentiate an ad from editorial content. However, these factors alone aren't enough for listeners to identify that a certain segment is an ad.
If the ad is similar to the podcast's editorial content, ASA guidance state that a clear disclosure must be incorporated at the start of the program. This ensures that listeners are aware that ads are included in the podcast. The disclosure should be presented at the start of the podcast, not at the end or halfway through.
Creating custom content ensures that ads are differentiated from editorial content. Therefore, listeners can easily tell when the ad begins and ends.
Regardless of how it is referred to, marketers have, for years, leveraged native ad executions within podcasting. Here are some of the benefits of native advertising for podcasts.
Most consumers are aware of native advertising and how it impacts their purchase behaviors. Listeners who hear a native ad continue with their product search and are more likely to make a purchase. They often conduct their own due diligence, incorporating the information they receive through native advertising to make a purchasing decision.
Relevant ad content blends well with editorial content and is memorable and engaging to listeners. Native ads feel less intrusive and elicit better brand recall. Public radio's Halo Effect extends to your brand, as listeners associate the positive aspects of the station with your ad.
If the content is informative, engaging, and relevant, then reaching the targeted audience is easier. Native ads can be targeted to a specific audience, so advertisers can generate engagement from impressions. Listeners enjoy personalized, seamless ad experiences in a clutter-free environment.
Native advertising on podcasts used to be a punk-rock way for brands to market themselves, but now it's gaining ground as a mainstream marketing tactic. Here are four ways to use custom content to run an effective campaign:
Be a trusted adviser. Your tone of voice should be friendly and in a language that your audience uses every day.
Concentrate more on what brings real value to consumers and less on what you intend to sell.
Be educational, brand-agnostic and neutral.
Set goals and track KPIs that can help prove ROI and inform future campaigns.
The benefits of native advertising for podcasts cannot be ignored in the modern media landscape. Native advertising can help you reach consumers in a more intimate conversation without crossing their boundaries. With the right tone and content, it's easy to drive traffic through native ads.