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Attention CMOs: It's Time You Start Podcast Advertising!

By Matthew Parillo, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, Brandeis University, International Business School

Matthew Parillo, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications, Brandeis University, International Business School

Recently, I found myself stuck in bad traffic – just a part of life for many of us – and I was having a ball. I was engrossed in one of my favorite podcasts, and frankly, it made for an enjoyable ride to my destination.

I am (somewhat) brand loyal. Podcasts have worked their way into my commute, and brands have worked their way into my mindshare. I have found myself paying more attention to the clever ways that hosts have been integrating ads of (especially new) brands into their podcast programming. My podcast listening habits have resulted in actual purchases. (Author's note: I do not receive any compensation from Mac Weldon and Casper – but I did purchase their products because of podcast ads!)

"As in all digital campaigns, whether you use offer codes or build custom landing pages, you’ll quickly determine if your chosen podcast program, ad copy (offer) and the announcer’s read are pulling for you"

I was encouraged by the results of a pilot we implemented to build awareness of our business school by using a content offer on a well-established podcast. It drove a solid response in target regions we prioritized. The glass-half-full/still-work-to-be-done news: Respondents did not convert in droves toward desired outcomes. In retrospect, our offer could have been closer to what our target needs. And as for the chosen podcast itself, its target demographic may not have been narrow enough. Our cultivation of leads could have been stronger, but the test showed promise.

This is why I initially liked podcast ads:

You have a very motivated listener. Think of all the steps one takes to get to the actual show (and ad): selecting and installing the podcast solution, doing some research and discovering shows, subscribing, and importantly, choosing the episode, tossing on headphones or setting up their Bluetooth phone connection in their car, and clicking play. That’s a high bar – chances are good they’ll hear your ad.

You can get granular in your targeting. Try this test: Pick a narrow topic that you are passionate about and search for a podcast. Find one? I bet you did.

It’s measurable. As in all digital campaigns, whether you use offer codes or build custom landing pages, you’ll quickly determine if your chosen podcast program, ad copy (offer) and the announcer’s read are pulling for you.

This is why I now am even more in favor of trying podcast ads.

Podcasting has been around for quite some time. But this summer was a seminal moment in the podcast ecosystem.

First, as pointed out by Search Engine Journal, which also puts forth the argument as to why podcasts should be considered in your digital marketing toolkit, the consumer has spoken: There are now more searches for podcasts than for blogs. Second, they reported that Google has now entered the game with the release of their podcast app.

Finally, brands old and new are embracing podcasts in other ways. Take, for instance, State Street Global Advisors, a formidable part of a company that has been around for literally hundreds of years. This July, in partnership with actress Elizabeth Banks, it launched its podcast, “Crazy Enough to Work,” to build awareness of its mid-cap exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Whether you are an established player or a challenger brand, all this adds up to a compelling rationale to pick your podcast, start a pilot ad campaign or launch an organic effort as State Street did. As they say, around a Texas Hold’em table – are you in?