“You have an opportunity to have a very intimate relationship in the audio channel. If anyone is going to listen to a podcast, in advance of listening he has searched for the content he’s interested in, and then he has identified this [specific podcast].
While King favored endorsements, he noted that, like all good advertising, audio promotions should start with specific goals and extend from there.
“And maybe it’s the content that the show is talking about. Maybe it is the host. Regardless, there is a personal draw to that program.”
This approach also delivers a relatively satisfying ad experience for consumers since it is targeted without being creepy.
On March 4, 2021, King took part in an exclusive 30-minute interview for the CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce community. King answered questions about audio advertising, but the conversation ultimately focused on podcast endorsements as a way for commerce companies — omnichannel retailers, online sellers, B2B merchants — to achieve their marketing goals. CommerceCo members can access the complete interview at any time.
“Trade Desk has made inroads versus Google by investing in online advertising segments like audio and streaming TV where Google hadn’t already cornered the market. Pandemic-struck 2020 was especially good for business,” wrote Haggin.
King spoke at length about endorsements, but he also discussed audio advertising overall and audio opportunities.
“We focus on the native, host-endorsed ads. So if you’re working on radio, it’s really working with the hosts themselves, or if you’re targeting a podcast, specifically, it’s having the host…talk on behalf of your brand,” said Sean King, executive vice president of Veritone One, an audio advertising agency.
Audio advertising can take many forms, but at least one industry leader thinks companies should aim for host endorsements for the best return on investment.
“It’s less of an ad and more of a referral or recommendation,” King stated.
In this way, the listener has more invested with the podcast. He or she is less likely to tune out and more likely to believe an endorsement from a trusted host.
This alignment means that even without some of the individual targeting found in performance advertising, podcast advertisers can still ensure a high likelihood that their product promotions are hitting the proper audience.
“Brands [are] able to have a good understanding of who their core audience is, and what their likes and their interests are..and then [are] able to align with both the content and the hosts themselves,” said King.
What’s more, because podcasts tend to be topical, advertisers aiming for endorsements know quite a lot about the audience.
Digital audio advertising is one of the segments where Google is not dominant. This could mean that it is one of the areas not yet saturated with advertisers. Thus audio advertising may be worth considering.
According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, there are multiple digital audio ad formats.
Digital Audio Ads
For some B2C marketers, audio advertising is either associated with traditional radio commercials or an unfamiliar and rarely considered option. But there are many opportunities with audio promotion.
- Commercials. These can be placed before the audio program, during the program, or after — pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. Commercials can be changed out of archived audio programming and purchased for a set number of listens.
- Host-read ads. These spots are commercials, but the host reads them. Some are read live. Some are recorded.
- Custom segments. Some promotions take the form of a segment during a podcast. This might be a game, a special short interview, or something similar. It is sponsored by the advertiser and may include a commercial.
- Sponsorships. An advertiser can be named as the sponsor of an episode or series. Sponsors may be mentioned through a digital audio stream.
- Endorsements. With these, the host tells the audience about her own experience with the product or service. Endorsements, as mentioned above, are a significant opportunity.
He is not alone in his thinking. Consider a recent Wall Street Journal article from reporter Patience Haggin. The article, “Google Crushed Many Digital Rivals. But a Challenger Is Rising,” is about The Trade Desk’s David-versus-Goliath relationship to Google’s advertising business.