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Host-Read Ads and Affiliate Marketing: Strategies to Monetize Your Podcast

It is safe to say that the ever-expanding world of podcasts has not gone unnoticed by marketers as a way to promote their products, services, and their overall brand. In fact, in 2018, businesses in the U.S. alone spent over $470 million on podcast advertising! This was a 53% increase on the previous year1. Wow! Podcasts are therefore a sought-after industry for advertising, so much so that many of the top podcasts have filled up their advertising spots well in advance, some even for the next year! 

Others receive fairly lucrative sponsorship deals for advertising a product, service, or brand simply because of the number of subscribers they have. But what about the podcaster not in the top 1%? How can they monetize their podcasts using advertising? Well, you’ve come to the right place for the answers! 

In this post we will dive into two ways ads in your podcast can be used for monetization: namely through paid advertisements and through affiliate marketing. Our article pays particular attention to these methods in terms of host-read ads. 

Related read: How to Improve the Discoverability of Your Podcast

Paid Advertisements vs Affiliate Marketing

Paid advertisements are pretty much exactly what they sound like. You as a podcaster receive a specific amount of money from a business in exchange for inserting this sponsored ad for that business in your podcast.

Affiliate marketing, on the other hand, occurs when you as the podcast host promote a product or service on your show and receive a commission for every purchase based on your recommendation. You are given a specific code or another form of identification to share with your listeners, who then use it when making their purchase, linking the sale to you.

Related read: How to Get More People to Actually Listen to Your Podcast

The Hows and Whys 

The application of either form of advertisement is simple enough. The challenge often lies in finding businesses who are willing to pay you for “advertising space” or those who are willing to give you a commission on the sales of a product or service. However, the challenge has been made, well, less challenging, due to the fairly recent shift in the advertiser’s focus. In the past, businesses were only looking to partner with podcasters who hit a certain amount of downloads on their episodes.

But as the podcasting realm has expanded, advertisers have realized that a particular amount of downloads didn’t necessarily result in sales for the business. This has brought about the shift in focus from “downloads” to “loyalty and trust” between a podcast host and their audience. This means that now many businesses see the value in partnering with ‘smaller’ niche podcasts that have loyal listeners, and particularly those podcasts that align with their products and brand. 

Related read: How to Use Podcast Audiograms to Engage Your Audience on Social Media

Picking Your Partner

With the changing landscape, this means that you as the podcaster need to pick your partners carefully, looking for those that align with your brand and your listeners. If the product or service fits in with your brand, it will most probably naturally appeal to your audience. Conversely, picking a product based solely on how much money you’ll make with no relevance to your audience could be a very hazardous strategy. If there’s no relevance between your audience and the product you’re promoting, there’s a good chance your audience will feel that you’re ‘selling out’ just to get a pay-out. This could lead to serious shrinkage in your loyal fan base! 

Remember, if you’re approaching businesses whose products align with your brand, they’re likely to want to partner with you if it’s paid advertisements you’re after, as your interests are aligned. If you’re after affiliate marketing, approaching these businesses should also prove favorable. Loyal listeners develop a trust in their podcast hosts, and more likely than not are going to make a purchase based on a recommendation you give. Plus, always make sure that the products you promote and the sponsored advertisements you take on create added value for your listeners and give them something that helps them to achieve their goals. 

Host-Read Ads

When it comes to actually creating an ad, results2 show that the best response comes from host-read sponsor messages. Most attribute this to the almost one-on-one relationship that develops between the host and their listeners, and the trust in the host that is built as a result.

So whether you choose to go the route of paid advertising on your podcast, or whether you determine that affiliate marketing is the best option for you and your listeners, we’ve compiled a compact list of how you can get the best ad-reads as a podcast host, helping you get the most optimum results from your advertising. 

Related read: 3 Easy Steps to Accepting Donations for Your Podcast

1. Plan Well

Planning is essential for either type of advertisement. If it is a paid advertisement, you must ensure that you include all the details the sponsor required of you in your agreement. Do a little research on the brand, and the product or service if you’re not able to try it out first-hand. However, it is always more effective if you’ve had hands-on experience with the product or service that you are promoting. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask the sponsor, well in advance of when the recording will take place. 

2. Practice

Even if you’ve been recording podcasts for a while, an ad-read is very different from your usual content, and the challenge is making both the ad and your episode content fit seamlessly together. You (and perhaps even your sponsor) might be wanting an ‘off-the-cuff’ feel to the ad so that it fits naturally into your show. However, practicing the content is still important as you need to ensure you cover all the necessary points. You might be recording your sponsor ad separately and dynamically inserting it into your episodes. Practicing is then particularly important in this case as you will need to take extra care to make sure it has the same tone as the rest of your episodes and your overall show in general. 

3. Check Your Content

In the first step, you planned the advertisement, but you will need to check your content after you’ve recorded to ensure that you covered all the required points. If it is a paid ad, you are being paid to promote the product or service correctly. If the advertisement contains an error or misrepresentation, you will definitely be hearing from your sponsor – and the term “makegood” will most certainly make an appearance in that conversation. 

Note: A makegood is a rerun or post-publishing edit of an advertisement due to error or misrepresentation that occurred in the original airing. A makegood is at the expense of the podcaster/creator as a way to make up for the error.

This is obviously a very undesirable situation! And it can be avoided by carefully checking your content before you publish an episode. 

4. Relax

The last step is to relax. Trying too hard to nail the ad-read will definitely NOT give it that easy-breezy tone that you are after. If you are feeling the pressure of getting the read “just right”, try and think about a host-read ad in a similar way as you would if you were talking to your friends about a great new product or service you’ve found. This is why it’s important to pick brands that align with your audience and your niche. That way, you’ll pick products that not only interest you but also your audience. Remember, you have built up trust with your loyal listeners. That means they trust your opinion, and so will be very likely to trust something you’ve endorsed. So there’s obviously pressure to get the alignment right, but on the other hand, you can relax and give a sincere delivery, knowing that if you like the product or service, chances are that your listeners will respond positively too.  

Related read: How to Plan for Recording Your First Podcast Episode

Closing Thoughts 

Whether you choose to use paid advertising or affiliate marketing as a means of monetizing your podcast, remember that both these methods have proven successful when the products or services advertised align with your show and your audience. There is also a strong positive link between host-read ads and the audience’s reception of the sponsor message. This can be attributed to the trust that develops between podcast hosts and their loyal listeners. 

However, you choose to advertise and monetize, remember this trust, and keep it in mind when you’re considering the products, services, or brands you choose to work with. This will prevent you from aligning with something just for the money, and keep you from breaking this hard-earned trust you’ve established with your audience. 

1. What’s New in Publishing – 
2. TechCrunch – 

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