Podcast Advertising 101: What You Need to Know About Podcast Ads

by Pat Safford | Oct 14, 2020 | Podcasting

As the popularity of podcasts continues to explode—with one quarter of Americans listening to at least one podcast each week—advertisers have started to realize the effectiveness of advertising with podcasts. Here’s what you need to know about getting started with podcast advertising!

With a projected 45% jump in ad spending next year, it’s clear that advertisers believe in the power of podcast advertisements. Part of that increase is due to the growth of podcasts themselves, as there are now over 1 million podcasts, an increase of nearly 50% since June 2018.

But the main reason for the massive leap in podcast advertising spending is due to the nature of the medium itself. Unlike TV, radio, online, or print ads, podcast ads can fit into the flow of the content rather than interrupt the experience. In fact, 78% of podcast listeners don’t mind podcast sponsorships.

Podcast ads are less likely to come across as inauthentic endorsements. Because listeners have spent time with the podcast host and actively seek out their content, they’ve developed a strong trust in the voice delivering the information. Podcast hosts are powerful influencers, and their words can sometimes feel like a recommendation from a trusted friend rather than a typical advertisement. On top of that, podcast listeners are engaged and loyal, making them more willing to act after hearing an ad.

How Much Do Podcast Ads Cost?

For any brand that saw the rise in social media ads popularity throughout the mid-2010s, you may already know that with an influx of marketers clamoring for space comes the need to spend more for marketing. But just as podcasts vary in length, format, and content, so, too, does the price for podcast ads.

The cost of a podcast ad depends on the length of your advertisement and the popularity of the podcast you want to advertise with. Podcast advertising rates increase with listenership and are typically sold on CPMs—cost per mille (thousand) impressions. For most podcasts selling ads, the math looks like this:

  • Total cost = (Total impressions or downloads x CPM) / 1,000

For example, say you bought an ad on a podcast that charged $20 for a 30-second ad CPM. If the podcast was downloaded 10,000 times, your cost for this advertisement would be $200.

On average, a 30-second ad CPM costs $18 and a 60-second ad CPM costs $25.

If you have a massive advertising budget, it may make sense to advertise on a podcast with hundreds of thousands of listeners. But if you have limited advertising funds, shorter advertisements on podcasts with smaller, niche audiences that fit your brand may make more sense.

What Are the Different Types of Podcast Ads?

Podcast ads can be read by one of two parties: an announcer or the host themselves. Common in journalistic shows like The Daily and Up First, announcer-read ads are voiced by a producer or company spokesman. They sound more formal and allow brands to be in complete control of their message.

The majority of podcast ads, however, are read by the host. Ads read by a podcast host sound more authentic and are less interruptive to the flow of the show. If you choose to have the podcast host read the ad, you can either have the ad baked into the podcast or you can opt for dynamic insertion of ads.

Ads that are baked in are either read live or inserted later, these ads are part of a podcast’s recording. Baked-in ads remain in the episode forever, regardless of when a listener downloads or plays the podcast. But ads that are dynamically inserted into a show are added after the podcast ends and can be changed over time. Not every listener will hear the same advertisements.

Baked in ads sound more natural and fit into the fabric of the podcast. However, these ads can become dated and someone listening to a podcast months after its release date may hear an ad for an expired offering or promotion.

Dynamic-insertion ads allow the advertiser to be more agile and flexible, changing ads based on timing. This not only allows the advertiser to keep content fresh and relevant, but it also offers more precise targeting and measurement capabilities. The length, format, and placement of the podcast ad can be adjusted based on reporting.

Consider running A/B tests to find which type of ads resonate better with your audience and be ready to adjust on the fly when you find the best fit!

Where Should You Place Your Podcast Ad?

Podcast advertisements can be placed in three unique spots throughout the recording, but know that each comes with their own pros and cons.


The ad plays or is read by the host at the beginning of the podcast. Because they come before the desired content, these ads are, in theory, heard by every listener; however, they can also easily be skipped. Pre-rolls inserted into the host’s introduction are harder to skip and are more effective.


The ad plays in the middle of the podcast. These are often more difficult to skip because the listener doesn’t want to miss any content, but listeners who don’t listen to the entire episode may not hear them.


The ad plays as the podcast concludes. Outro ads are the easiest to skip because the listener knows the podcast is over. However, they’re often the most effective for introducing websites and offer codes since those things will be top of mind as the listener moves on to a new activity.

How Can You Craft Your Ad Message?

Because podcasts are informal dialogue, they provide advertisers unique ways to speak to a podcast audience. Here are some ideas to consider as you construct your ad copy.

Allow the Host to Ad-Lib

While providing a script for the podcast host to read ensures that you have complete control of the message, it also robs the ad of what makes podcast special—the host’s personality. The listener came to hear the host speak, not your ad, and they’ll be more willing to listen if the ad sounds organic. Consider sending the host talking points and a sample of your product or service so they can talk about it in their own voice.

Include a Strong Call-to-Action

Consider creating a custom discount code or URL for listeners of the show to visit. This gives listeners a VIP treatment and makes your ad’s effectiveness easier to track (but more on this in a minute).

Provide a Phonetic Guide

If your ad includes any words or names that might be difficult to pronounce, give the host phonetic spellings so that they know how to say them. The last thing you want is paying for an ad in which your company or product is referred to by the wrong name.

What Podcast Statistics Should You Track?

As with any advertisement, you need to monitor the performance of your ads to determine their effectiveness and make adjustments moving forward. For a comprehensive understanding of how your ads are doing, keep an eye on these three numbers:

  • Podcast Downloads (or Impressions): That is, how many times the podcast was downloaded or listened to online.
  • Consumption Rate: The average amount of time the audience listens to an episode. For example, if a 30-minute podcast has a 66% consumption rate, the average listener stops listening after 20 minutes.
  • Episode Listen Duration: A chart showing the percentage of people listening to each episode at every point in time.

Those final two stats are more telling than the first. For example, if you purchased a post-roll ad, but a large percentage of the audience isn’t making it to the end of the episode, they’re not hearing your ad, and you might need to reevaluate your advertising strategy.

There are also ways for you to track the effectiveness of certain ads. You could provide specific offer codes and URLs to listeners of the show. That way, when a purchase is made with that code or on that vanity URL, you’ll know the purchase came from a podcast listener. You can also request that customers and subscribers take a quick survey and ask how they heard about your company when they make a purchase or sign up for your services.

As always, monitor your social mentions and website traffic. If you see a giant spike after starting a podcast partnership or advertising campaign, that could be a good sign the podcast ads are effective!

Want to explore options in podcast advertising? Hurrdat Media can help you with podcast ads and much more! Check out our podcast advertising services today!