Many brands are excited to wade into the podcast advertising pool, and there are so many podcasts and networks out there, getting started can be confusing. Jumping into the water will be a little less risky if your potential podcast partner has these things, to ensure that you are getting your money's worth. Rather than treat a podcast ad campaign like a normal media buy, it's best to consider it a partnership. Partnership is how you'll get the best ROI.
Demographics are vital to a successful advertising relationship. Buyers need to make sure that their dollars are going towards promoting their goods and services to the RIGHT people, the ones that are in need of what they’re offering and have the ability to purchase. It’s not enough to know that your audience is “smart, female and young.” How we interpret that information is the difference between your ideal sponsor being American Girl and Working Woman magazine. The more details you acquire, the better.
Your podcaster may give you an idea of their audience, and based on the subject matter or gender of your show host, this may seem like an obvious answer. But really try and drill down to specifics as much as possible. If you are trying to reach millennials, you'll need more than 30% of the audience to be that age. Ask to see survey results, Google Analytics screenshots, or a screenshot of their Facebook Audience Insights. Those numbers aren't EXACT but they're as close as you can get sometimes to guesstimating how much of their audience is who you want to talk to.
Healthy and/or Active Online Community
There are quite a few (ok, most) podcasters who don’t have 5,000 downloads per episode yet, and maybe never will. But that shouldn't affect their ability to give you a successful advertising campaign. The key is the PLATFORM. Aside from know WHO our audience is, they need to indeed have an audience SOMEWHERE. Each podcast is different, and will have supporting influence on different channels.
For example, before I started my first podcast, Lady Business Radio, I had an online business that I had been cultivating since social media started. I had 8500 Twitter followers, 3500 email subscribers, 2500 Facebook friends, and so on. Getting sponsors right off the bat was easy for me because even though my podcast had about 2,000 a month at the beginning, my entire platform was able to reach a potential of 15,000 people.
I’m not saying shows need even close to those numbers, either. It helps if they've cultivated at least one channel of active people. If they're popular on ANY social media channel, that’s great. If they've got a few hundred people signed up for email notifications, that’s even better. And so on and so on. As long as people are participating with the podcast host or community somewhere and interacting with you somewhere, that’s a great start.
All podcast hosts are influencers, even if they haven't cultivated their audience anywhere else but their podcast as of yet. But a community on what I call a “supporting” channel is going to be a huge bonus to getting the word out there about your product or service.
So, maybe they do have a lot of followers/fans. Are they interacting with the host? Are there reviews? Consistent gratitude tweets or comments on the episode posts on Facebook? They need to show you that they are the cat’s pajam and you don’t just have to take THEIR word for it.
It helps to have screengrabs of compliments, and they can come in different formats. Facebook compliments, tweets about you, iTunes reviews, emails with how you’ve impacted the listeners with your words, actions, or just having the show to listen to.
You aren't just buying downloads. What you're after is exposure and INFLUENCE.
When people go out of their way to send kudos and compliments, it shows that the podcast is actively being listened to and even participated in, and it's made an impact – so much so that they had to tell the host. Ask for this information if it isn't in their selling materials. As an advertiser, you need to see that you are reaching people individually and making a difference.
The final element, and possibly most important, is a partnership mentality. Don’t get into a relationship with ANYONE if they seem like they are only in it for the money.
When they started their podcast, hopefully they did it because you had a desire and a passion for helping people – even if it was just to help them laugh. They wanted to create content that people love, and hopefully they do. Advertisers should want that desire to carry over to their product.
When decide to partner with a podcaster and engage their entire platform, what they should essentially be saying to you is that they believe in their product and service so much that they're willing to let the beloved audience know ANYWHERE they’re willing to interact with the host, and not just on the podcast.
It’s a relationship of trust, and not just on their end.
The advertiser is trusting that an investment in a podcast and audience is going to be worth the time and money. Hosts are trusting their offering enough to use their own words to explain how great it is. They're allowing their name and brand to be synonymous with yours.
It’s a partnership.
The main goal is a win-win-win. A win for you, a win for the host, and a win for the audience.
You want the audience to be grateful for the suggestion. You want to be grateful you found them and their eager, excited audience. And you want them to feel good about recommending goods and services to people that they cultivated with their VERY HARD WORK.
Here’s how to make sure you’re delivering the best value to everyone, including yourself.
You need to know they are getting the RIGHT audience, that the people are definitely potential customers of yours and that they’ll potentially be as enthusiastic about their product as they are about the podcaster. The way you are reassured by this is knowing the demographics of the audience and seeing social proof.
Audience: They already like you, and trust the host. They’ll be thrilled to hear about the stuff they like, too. Offering them reviews, coupons, and special deals on things they need is an awesome way to use your campaign for audience gain.
Host: They have created a very valuable community that stands behind your content. They've been in their lives consistently for a while, and offering them helpful information or entertaining shows (or both) successfully for a while, and they'd like some assistance paying for the expenses of offering content. A sponsor that they stand behind and love is the perfect partner. They are familiar with you and know the audience will love them, too. They will see the financial value in partnering with you, and you with them and their community.
This advertising model is built on the premise that shows are more than their download numbers, that they are a sum of the PEOPLE who listen, not the number of times someone has pressed play. While this is more conceptual, it becomes overwhelmingly trackable when the results surpass every other medium.