• Ryan M. Pierson

Professional Podcasting: How to Attract Advertisers

Attracting advertisers to your podcast is one of the core fundamental principals behind professional podcasting. After all, if you don’t have a sponsor, making money at podcasting becomes incredibly difficult. There’s no such thing as a profitable paid subscription podcast, which is why you don’t see any of them around. Some free podcasts do have bonuses for donators like earlier releases and special episodes, but these plans usually fall through after a while as people pirate the extra content out to the larger community. Podcasts should be free, and there is no easier or quicker way to make money doing so than by attracting advertisers. Here are a few tips on how to attract advertisers:

Keep a Release Schedule


Third-Party Advertising Groups

If you’ve had some experience with podcasting, you may have heard the names Podtrac and Blubrry. These are two of many different podcast traffic tracking services that double as advertising agencies. They sell ads through their tracked numbers to larger advertisers and pass the sale on to the podcasters in their network. For example, if one of these agencies gets a large buy for advertising across five podcasts with an audience size of X, they’ll reach out to podcasters using their service and ask them to apply for the buy. Once the podcast has been vetted, the podcaster gets a cut of the advertising revenue in exchange for making a particular mention or running an ad during their show. Essentially, these groups sell ads for you, for a sizable commission.

Therein lies the downside. By going through these groups, you may save yourself the hassle of having to find your own advertisers, but you will also lose the benefit of the full value of the ad buy in addition to the rapport you could be building with the advertiser directly. Having a long-term relationship with an advertiser is a good way to establish a predictable income for your podcast and attract even more advertisers in the process. Essentially, having a successful ad campaign run during your podcast is a magnet for other advertisers to consider sponsoring you, themselves. Bottom line: these services are middle men, and as such can be a double-edged sword.

Focus on Quality of Production

Advertisers like to see or hear an organized production. Scattered podcasts with confused hosts or amateur production value can drive away advertisers unless the podcast has a large enough audience behind it. Think of ad agencies as the grandparents of the marketing world. They are only now beginning to dip their toes in to this maturing platform, and whether the show is on YouTube or distributed through iTunes, they are looking for something that looks and feels more like the polished programming traditional television and/or radio is known for. If your podcast seems amateur to them, it had better have some impressive viewership numbers to maintain their attention.

Organize Your Podcast into Subjects

Advertisers love to slip in their message between two interesting topics in a production, especially if the show features the biggest draw at the end. Keeping your production segmented into clear and organized topics is a great way to demonstrate how easily an ad can be positioned within the show. You’ll see this a lot on popular podcasts like The Adam Corolla Show and This Week in Tech. Subjects are organized and planned so transitions are natural and drawing to the audience. Advertisers love nothing more than to have their ad placed in a spot right behind the biggest draw when the audience is paying the closest attention. This is especially important on longer podcasts that last more than 10 minutes. Be sure, though, to keep the number of topics consistent, so you can plan advertising campaigns around being at a specific point during each episode. You can also use this method to sell multiple ads on a single show, putting one sponsor between one set of segments and the next between another.

YouTube Partnership

Do you know why Ray William Johnson, Sxephil, and other similar YouTube channels seem to do so well? They work very hard, and invest a significant amount of time and money to achieve good visual and audio quality. Editing during one of these three to seven minute podcasts can take hours, and the sound quality is always just right. A channel like FPS Russia may not have the most consistent sound quality, but its viewership numbers and over-the-top unique content draws millions to view each episode. One thing these channels have in common is that they are YouTube partners.

By growing their audience organically through consistent production value, they’ve achieved a large enough level of success to be considered a draw to YouTube. In order to keep the content creator on YouTube, it extended an offer to give partners the ability to seize a bigger piece of the advertising revenue, and better control the kind of advertising that appears against the content. These ads are then displayed to each viewer before, during, and/or after they watch the video. Essentially, the more people a YouTube partner attracts to YouTube, the more money they make through ad revenue.

Old-Fashioned Ad Sales

There’s no substitute for doing something yourself. Giving away chunks of your income to third parties for the sake of making life easier may or may not be worth it to you. If it isn’t, you may need to start reaching out to potential advertisers yourself and working out a more direct approach to finding sponsors.

If you are serious about putting together a professional podcast that generates a significant amount of ad revenue and you don’t want to share a piece of your income with an agency or leave the advertising selections up to YouTube, you may want to consider hiring someone to handle ad sales. Yes, this is the point where an amateur production becomes a serious business, and it’s important that you have an audience built up prior to taking this step. If you believe an ad on your show is worth enough to sustain a business, finding an experienced sales person (or persons) can be worth it in the long run. Keep in mind though that they’re in it for the money, and will likely ask for a commission and/or regular salary. This means the advertising on your show would need to bring in enough income to sustain someone full-time as well as cover your production costs (with some profit, as well).

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