Podcasting can be a lot of fun, but at the end of the day, you don’t want to pour your life savings into it to do what you love. Podcasts, even ones with small audiences, can pay for themselves through advertising. Advertisers pay for you to get their brands, products, and/or services in front of your audience in a way that encourages them to take advantage of what they have to offer. While advertising may not be the most beloved part of your show, you can work it in without causing a jarring response from the viewer.
Since broadcasting was first invented, marketing experts have tried to find the perfect way to introduce a product to the viewer in a way that has the biggest potential impact. How do you get the most bang for your buck?
Here are some different methods of advertising commonly used by professional podcasters.
Perhaps one of the oldest forms of advertising associated with broadcasting is embedded in conversation throughout the broadcast. This method works equally well on video as it does on audio, and requires no additional editing in post unless specifically requested.
During the show, the host will segue the conversation into one about the sponsor. Usually, this happens between topics and is intentionally positioned at a point that will have the most impact and come off as being part of the regular show. These plugs are never pre-recorded and often involve members of the panel and/or any guests that are participating in the program. A conversation about the sponsor is natural and flowing, giving the audience the impression that the host is absolutely in support of the product and/or brand. Reading from a script is rare, but certain key points may need to be relayed with each plug.
The important thing to remember about this form of advertising is that it needs to be natural in order to work. No one wants to hear a canned and unbelievable plug. Hosts should share their experiences with the product and/or service, or relay a story about someone who has. Often, these types of plugs come with a coupon code exclusive to the podcast that allows the audience to reap some extra benefit from listening. Not only does that help draw people to the sponsor, but it also gives a value-add to your podcast. It’s a win-win!
Advertisements Embedded in Video
Sometimes, advertisers just want to get the brand name out there. Brand recognition is one of the best methods for generating a customer base out there. By placing a logo either on a lower-third or somewhere in the background of your set, you can essentially plug the sponsor without ever having to take time out of the content to do so. You might give a value-add to the sponsor by mentioning the podcast being brought to you by it once in a while, but the real intention is to get the brand out there.
Live streaming shows often employ this method. Chris Pirillo uses this form of advertising on his live stream where sponsors can pay to have their message appear above the chatroom near the bottom of the screen. You can also work a rotational ad, allowing you to sell the same space to multiple people on the understanding that their logo will appear so many times per hour. This method has the added benefit of drawing the eyes to a perceived movement as ads switch. Each new ad causes the viewer to glance, even if just for a second, to see what’s changed.
Chris Pirillo’s daily podcast now includes an embedded QR code that leads to one of several helpful sites within LockerGnome. Viewers can scan the QR code at any time while watching the live feed or recorded podcast after the fact. If you intend to distribute your podcast via YouTube or some other advertisement-driven hosting service, you may want to check with its terms and conditions prior to embedded and video advertising, which may conflict with the ads being displayed by the host.
Pre-Roll and Post-Roll
Whether you’re doing an audio or video podcast, the space before and after your primary content is prime real estate for advertisers. Adding a brief, 10-second plug prior to the opening jingle is a great way to generate the revenue you need to keep the podcast alive.
This is a great space to sell hosting companies that might trade you for the bandwidth you need to distribute the podcast. You could also sell the space as a value-add for sponsors that are mentioned in a conversational plug during the show. It can be as simple as “This episode is brought to you by…”
Post-roll ads are basically the same, but they appear at the tail end of your show. These ads are usually a hard sell since viewers tend to tune out before that point. It would be better to place a plug right before the lead story as the audience would be more inclined to sit through it than tune out before the content it came to see comes on.
This advertising method is seen most commonly on videos posted by YouTube partners. A 15-30 second ad plays before the partner’s content, with another appearing on the other side. You can also see this form of advertisement just before the opening jingle on just about any major daily news podcast.
Sometimes, conversational plugs just aren’t possible. Depending on what kind of podcast you’re doing, the best solution may be a pre-recorded sponsor message strategically placed throughout the podcast. This allows you to get the message out to the audience without forcing the host to break a topic. Generally, this message is added in post as it is usually recorded once for several episodes.
Two examples of this kind of advertising can be found on Revision 3’s Scam School and Tekzilla. Usually, the ad plays after the host teases something the audience can look forward to after a brief word from the sponsor. This is a generally accepted form of advertisement that appeals to large corporations with strict sponsorship requirements. Conversational ads rarely work out exactly the same way with each episode, so a pre-recorded and approved ad may be the only way to go with some sponsors.
Other Advertising Methods
You could always forgo the direct podcast ads in favor of on-site sponsorships. Send your listeners and/or viewers to your official website and sell ads on that site. Alternatively, you can use Google AdSense to generate revenue if you’re not in the position to contact potential sponsors.
It’s important here that you bring some value to your audience should it decide to visit your site. Why should it when iTunes, YouTube, Blip.tv, or other third-party sites can give it direct access to your content?
Giveaways are a great way to accomplish this. In addition, they’re also a very good form of advertising. Tech podcasts are constantly working out giveaways with companies that are willing to trade one (or two) of their products in exchange for the attention a giveaway would bring. When dealing with PR agencies or direct with the manufacturers, it’s okay to ask about doing a giveaway. Often, they’ll give you two so you have one to review and one to give away.
Giveaways are great ways to bring attention to your site and/or podcast. Give your viewers some hurdle to jump over so there is some measurable and trackable barrier of entry. This could be as simple as subscribing to an RSS feed through a tracked form or following a Twitter account. Make sure that you promote your partner in the giveaway as that will encourage it to turn to you next time something worth promoting comes across its desk.
Podcasting is a great hobby and an even better profession. Monetizing on your passions has never been easier, and you would be surprised at how simple it is to generate an income by just being yourself and doing what you love.
Remember, take care of your sponsors. The better you treat them, the more likely they are to keep coming back for more. More important, do some due diligence by informing your audience when someone is paying you to promote a product. Disclosures are important, and can go a long way toward maintaining the credibility of your program.