Podcast Sponsorship As Part Of Your Media Plan


This is the first in a planned series of posts exploring the place for podcasts within Digital Marketing budgeting.
Podcast advertising spend overall is small, really small! Especially in comparison to the more established channels of PPC and Display advertising, but it is growing. Estimates by Bridge Ratings put the size of the industry at about 250 million dollars in advertising spend for 2017, up from just over an estimated figure of 100 million in 2016. These are of course estimates but as the industry prepared for last years upfronts there was growing confidence that additional marketing budget is being moved towards the channel.
Lets begin by looking at what initially triggered the initial growth of podcasting and what is the state of podcast production.

Podcasting Growth

There are a number of possible starting points you could look at when trying to determine a reason for the rise in podcasting such as smartphone growth or the growth of platforms providing Podcast content providers such as Stitcher, Soundcloud or even Audible but lets take a different slant and look from the perspective of content.
In October 2014, the debut episode of ‘Serial’ was released. This was the start of a phenomenon. Podcasting experienced its first breakout hit that gripped the public consciousness, putting podcasting on the map to the extent that it was parodied by Saturday Night Live.
This massive success has over time lead to many marketers to start thinking, should we begin to invest media budget in Podcast sponsorship and how do we go about it?
Many of the same questions that exist for any marketing channel came to mind straight away, what’s are the pricing options?, how should we implement this?, how will we track it and what content is a fit for our brand?.
Podcasting is still at a stage of infancy phase that it is difficult to get quick and easy answers to these questions.

A brief overview of podcasts producers

So where did a Serial come from? Who produces the content and how can you get your brand associated with it? There are a few broad categories that most Podcast producers will fall into.
Firstly, individuals engaged in a labour of love. These are often self funded and content is based on an niche area of expertise, general subject or anything in between.
Next we have radio stations that spin off their broadcast content into podcasts. Stations such as RTE, BBC and public radio stations in the US will often publish podcast versions of the radio show content but on occasion, in order to boost subscriptions and downloads, will also produce exclusive content for a podcast audience. Generally these offerings will be ad supported.
After this, we have dedicated networks such as PodcastOne or Gimlet Media that create native podcast content, this category is generally more notable for high quality production values with notable hosts from radio/tv/sports that are targeted at mainstream audiences. They can be based around specific niche interests or cover broader topics. Generally these networks will have a flagship show and look to expand their network based on an initial success and will be ad supported.
Next, we have spin off from other media formats such as a magazine or newspaper. The range here is substantial and depending on how you want to classify it you cover everything from magazines such as Empire launching a dedicated podcast to Bloomberg who in recent years have launched a number of podcasts catering to content in their target verticals of markets, technology and finance. Again these publishers will have sponsorship options available for advertisers.
Finally, I would describe this last category as corporate podcasts, everyone from Bloomberg to McKinsey and Google is launching a podcast. The nature of the content varies, it can often be commentary on the broader industry they operate within to subject matter they cover, research they have just released and so on. In general these tend to be more focused on promotion of the parent brand rather than funded through advertising.


To recap, we’ve had a general look at what triggered the growth in podcasting and look at some of the broad categories of content producers in the field.
Up next, we expand on this to look at some of the companies currently heavily using podcasts as a marketing channel, advantages of podcast advertising along with some of the challenges podcasts present to marketers.