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What Types of Advertisements Should I Use In My Podcast?

Reader warning: Major stat alert!  I know us podcasters are more given to words, thoughts and ideas as a means of expression, but even if numbers aren’t necessarily your thang…you need to check out these stats on advertising:

“Over half of podcast consumers say that they are more likely to consider the brands they hear advertised on podcasts.” (Edison Research)

“Around 70% of podcast listeners can recall brands they hear about in podcast ads.” (Nielsen)

“63% of podcast listeners made a purchase after hearing a podcast ad.” (IAB)1

Still hanging with us?  Here are some more figures for you – since what is widely regarded as it’s advent in 2004, the podcasting industry has been growing steadily in popularity and shows no sign of slowing. According to a fall study conducted by American research firm eMarketer, the number of US podcast listeners will increase 16.0% year-over-year to 106.7 million and US podcast ad spending will grow 10.4% to $782.0 million, and surpass $1 billion in 2021. That’s a billion, with a “b”! And that’s only the US of A, mind you! Similar projections reflecting both the growth of our industry, and the concurrent growth of advertisement spending are a reality across the globe. 

Okay, enough numbers, allow me to explain with a picture: imagine our hero stepping into a phone booth as the bespectacled Clark Kent, only to emerge, moments later, as the butt-kicking Superman! As podcasters, our listeners are Clark Kent, our ads serve as the much-needed phone booth, and the heroes are the newly converted consumers wielding their buying power to boldly build businesses and brands. 

Too corny? 

Let’s try another image: ads are the bricks that pave the path on our audience’s journey from listener to consumer. They’ve been shown to boost brand awareness, build brand familiarity, and bolster both aided and unaided recall – for emerging and established marketers. So, Superstar Podcaster, we really do hope you’re getting your much-deserved slice of the advertising pie!

Related Read: Report: Podcast Ads Perform, Host Reads Outperform 

But there are so many flavors of pie! Just like it may be hard to decide between the sweet tangy tones of apple, the satisfyingly sour profile of rhubarb, or the buttery, nutty flavors of pecan,  it may be difficult to adopt one style of advertising – should you go for Announcer-Read or Host-Read? Maybe Dynamic Ad Insertion is the more natural option?  Hey, since we’re using a baking analogy, maybe Baked-In Ads are the only worthwhile choice! 

In today’s article we want to demystify any half-baked ideas and give you something crunchy to bite down into. Read on to gain a helpful overview about the types of advertisements you could use in your podcast and, hopefully, you’ll find options that will really help you reach your listeners with messages from brands you believe in. So let’s tuck in!

1. Announcer Read

This type of advertisement is when a podcaster will simply insert a pre-recorded audio advertisement into their show. This type of ad is usually recorded by a third party voice over artist –  or “announcer” – or even the advertiser themselves. We’ve all been exposed to this type of campaign style, especially through the good ol’ fashioned radio. 

According to a research study conducted by Stitcher, Midroll and Signal Hill Insights, announcer-read ads give marketers a way to “scale a message” that drives awareness and familiarity in the first place. The same message –  words, voice, tone, inflection, music –  can be fired out to a large number of hosts, meaning that potential consumers in diverse spheres of confluence can encounter the exact same message. This helps to maintain the integrity of the advertiser’s message and intention.

Advertiser Week 360’s Scott Klass endorses the benefits of announcer-read ad campaigns, arguing that certain campaigns may require an ad format that is less “tethered” to the host, meaning the message of the campaign or the voice of the brand will not be detracted from, compromised, or unduly influenced by the personality delivering their take on the copy provided. 

Klass states:

“In the realm of creative versatility ‒ from voice to tone, script to sound effects ‒ the announcer-read format can shine. Some campaigns may simply be better suited to a pre-produced spot with an orchestral swell halfway through the ad.”

This speaks to one of the key strengths of announcer-read ads; they’re oftentimes professionally produced, and have a solid level of excellence which, in turn, engenders a subconscious confidence in the listener. The listener thinks to herself: “This ad sounds good! And if the ad sounds good, I’m sure the product being offered is good too!”.  It’s simple psychology, and it is fully leveraged in this form of podcast advertising.

Also, it’s less work for the podcaster!  They don’t need to write copy, hop on a DAW to record, or run Adobe Audition to edit.  The weight of the work is lifted, and the burden of the brand is carried by the campaigner themselves. 

If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out this article: Host-read or Announcer-read? Let the Data Decide.

2. Host Read

This is a uniquely powerful podcast advertising approach.  It taps into the relational capital the host has banked with their listeners; read: influencers ability to influence!  It’s one thing to hear a shining endorsement from an unknown third party, but to hear that endorsement from a friend…that carries a different kind of weight. It carries influence.

In his article The importance of great quality podcast ads, Gareth Evans describes it in these terms: 

“Podcasting has found itself in this exciting and advantaged position within the media and digital ad space. But we have to remember why…Trust, Affinity, Authenticity, Credibility… All benefits that have been made possible through podcast’s unique method of delivering ads, via hosts that their listeners adore. Listeners love it because the ads don’t sound like ads, they sound like part of the show…”

A 2020 Inside Radio article makes the strong assertion that “All podcast ads work. But host-read ads work even better.” That is according to the aforementioned Stitcher, Midroll and Signal Hill Insights research study (it’s a great study presented with easy to read graphics – check it out!).  It was concluded that host-read ads outperform since they function as influencers among podcast listeners. The ability to have hosts leverage their close relationship with listeners is what has lured many marketers into podcasting. Evans further adds:

“Brands love it because their audience isn’t skipping or turning the volume down, they’re actually engaged with the ad. It’s win-win!”

On the basis of these strong points, we highly recommend you adopt host read style ads in your podcast!

Related Read: Top 10 Ways To Monetize Your Podcast

Now, let’s talk about podcast advertising options in terms of how you (as the host) can include your host-read and announcer-read ads in your episodes. We focus on the popular “baked-in” approach as well as the “new tech” option, dynamic ad insertion, or DAI.  

3. Baked-In

Much of the resource power funneled into the podcast advertising game currently goes to “baked-in” ads. The sagacious Bryan Barletta of Sounds Profitable defines baked-in advertisements (and I paraphrase) as specifically designed ad breaks within the contents of an episode where an audio advertisement is presented (be it native, or third-party).bThe ad file that shows up is always the same – hence the whole “baked-in” terminology.

In his Forbes article, Kurt Kaufer cites IAB’s Podcast Playbook describing how baked-in ads can serve as advertising hybrids by capturing the benefits of  host-read approaches, couched in a “baked-in” format:

“Baked-in features an advertising message that is a part of the podcast content and therefore lives within the content for its lifetime. This message is often ‘host-read,’ a unique opportunity that leverages the host personality for brand endorsement…At a macro-level, baked-in ads have helped fuel the popularity of podcasts as they prevent the content from becoming too cluttered with marginal, annoying ads.”

The same can be argued for capturing the benefits of the announcer-read approachers.  It’s a veritable smorgasbord, my friends! Pick and mix, and find the approach that works best for you.  And in all your doing, do be sure to incorporate baked-in style advertisements! 

Related Reads: It’s Time For Every Podcaster To Take DAI Seriously and The Podcast Ad Playbook: Baked-In Versus Dynamic Insertion Ads Explained.

4. Dynamic Ad Insertion

Whilst Barletta concedes that a lot of the money currently spent on podcast advertising goes to baked-in ads, he is resolute in his opinion that the majority of the technological growth and advancement in this space revolves around Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI).

So…sounds cool…but what is it?  Kaufer’s succinct definition is helpful here:

“[A dynamically inserted ad] is served through an ad server and is inserted upon receipt of a podcast file request…New ads are inserted into content on-demand and offer publishers and hosts the ability to continuously monetize the same episodes over time as the original ads aren’t persistent like baked-in ads are…Thus, episodes that were recorded two years ago will have new advertising continuously going forward.”

Friends, when you use DAI you are leveraging your hosting platform’s interfaces, using them to set time stamp markers with which to automatically insert your advertiser’s organic, curated, customised ad. Whew! This is the innovative partnership of technology and podcaster personality, the marriage of man and machine! Mwuahaha! Okay, maybe it’s not as sinister as a hostile takeover led by Schwarzenegger-esque automatons, but it cuts down on the work required by both the podcaster whilst avoiding becoming stale and irrelevant, and that kind of automation is great (and safe!). 

Barletta unpacks this idea further in his Sounds Profitable article:

“First off, it allows the host and editor to stay focused on episode content, offloading ad placement to an ad ops team. Breaking ad runs out doesn’t cause the podcast editor any more work beyond marking the ad insertion positions in each media file. They’re still going to edit the episode and the ads themselves. But once that’s done, they simply provide the episode file to the ad ops team for scheduling and monitoring to the terms of any campaign insertion orders or agreements. Division of labor, for the win!…The end result is a seamless audio file, with ads dynamically inserted into the episode.”

Plus, the same synthesis of advertising styles that is possible with baked-in ads is possible with dynamic insertion, which can be used for host-read and announcer-read ads, too. (Barletta is currently working to prove this by taking the concept a step further in attempting to replicate the feel of baked-in ads in a fully dynamic environment).

If Dynamic Ad insertion is really piquing your curiosity, this article by Brian Barletta is a must read!

In Conclusion

You could choose one lane of success and stick to it, you could adopt two methods, or even combine different methods of ad delivery.  A great example of the latter approach can be found in James Cridland, the host of the Podnews daily podcast, who uses a dynamically inserted, host-read, baked-in ad! If podcast ad-inception were such a thing, Mr. Cridland would be in deep!  

It’s clear that the options are myriad, as well as the potential combinations. Our encouragement?  Start small, start with one. Comb through the related reads listed throughout this article and make a point of checking out the sources listed below. There’s a whole world of revenue-generating potential that you could – and should! – be tapping into. Tap in, friends, and take your podcast to another level by capitalizing on all the podcast advertisement potential.


  1. EighteenSixty: The importance of great quality podcast ads!:

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