As an exciting new medium, plenty of brands are chomping at the bit to start leveraging podcasts in their marketing efforts. Most of them start out by placing ads in other podcasts–but if that goes well, your business might begin to think about producing your own show. There are plenty of reasons for a brand to start a podcast–podcasts can improve your search engine rankings, speak to your influencers, build the personal brands of their executives, speak to the investment community, help with customer support and more. But where to start? Luckily for you, if you’ve started off advertising on podcasts, there are a few key takeaways you can bring to the research and development stage of your company’s efforts. But first, let’s start off with…

What you CAN’T learn

Podcast ads and podcasts themselves have two very different aims, and this article is definitely NOT telling you that the results from an ad will transfer directly to your show or that you'll see equivalent conversion results from advertising on other shows to creating your own show. For instance, most podcast ads are still a direct-response call to action, (e.g. “use this code for X off your purchase” or “visit ourwebsite.com/popularpodcast”) which are easy to implement, track, and quantify. Can your brand potentially get a halo-effect from being associated with a super resonant podcast? Sure, but that’s hard to quantify and probably didn’t come up until the end of the pitch meeting–most of what you’re tracking is code redemption.

Podcasts, on the other hand, generally live somewhere on a education-entertainment-inspiration nexus. A podcast is an entirely different medium from a podcast ad, and it will reap different results. Unless you use direct response calls-to-action in your podcast, a branded podcast probably won’t translate directly into sales in a way that’s as easy to track and justify as a direct response call-to-action. (Stay tuned, though, for Simplecast’s announcement about how it’s solving this problem with it’s new post-listen conversion tracking tech!) But, a podcast can still benefit your brand immensely. Looking to reach a demographically different audience? Podcasts are great for that. Looking to highlight social efforts your company is undertaking? Plenty of podcasts have had great success in that area. Ready to pull back the curtain on company culture to help your recruiting efforts? Yep, podcasts! They’re even working great for internal communication dissemination and training.

So, back to the titular question: what can your podcast ads teach you about a potential podcast? Glad you asked!

Internal interest

How excited is your company by the idea of podcasts? How much buy-in have you had in placing ads in podcasts? Do you find there are difficult internal legal, logistical, or bandwidth hurdles to clear with regards to podcast advertising?  If that’s the case, it’s not a dealbreaker at all–it just might require further education about the benefits of podcasting for your team, as well as a realistic look at resourcing your own production. It also might mean that the path to successfully creating and launching your brand’s podcast includes utilizing the services of one of the incredible branded podcast production studios out there, rather than going it on your own. (There’s a branded podcast production studio out there for any budget; reach out and we’d be happy to pair you with some of our favorites!)

Content

Podcast ads can help you dip your toes into the wide variety of podcast audiences and connect with current and future customers in very different ways than traditional advertising. If for instance, you’re a life insurance company who has been placing ads in a slate of podcasts, it makes sense to look at which shows have the highest conversion rates. Is it the one about adjusting to life as a retiree? Or maybe the wine and true crime one? Or maybe it’s the podcast aimed at the stunt double industry. Podcast advertising, compared to other mediums, is relatively cheap, so it could even make sense to set aside a small slice of budget for test audiences, where you dig into niches to see if any of them are more likely to convert, or to test different show formats. While this research might not directly inform the content of your show, it can be useful for seeing, directionally, what types of audiences your company might find a foothold with and what formats of shows your company might find most impactful.

Audience Demographics

You probably already have these from the exploratory process of getting rates and stats from the shows you would eventually place ads in, but if not, ask for them! By seeing who the audience is in the podcasts that your ads are most successful in, you can flesh out content ideas to appeal to those listeners–shows that use Simplecast to host their podcastcan give you data like where their audience lives, whether they listen on their phone or on a desktop, and what days and times they get the most downloads. Knowing when, where and how people who are hearing your ads are listening is probably really insightful as to what the habits of people who may listen to your company’s show might be.

Your Team

Are you blown away by the production, storytelling, or host of a podcast your ads are playing on? Many podcast creators work on their own shows, but also work with brands (probably like yours!) to help them make their shows. Especially if you know there isn't a ton of internal resources at your company allocated to potentially creating a podcast, the shows you advertise on and enjoy listening to are a great place to start looking for a team. A little bit of research–whether through your ads contact or just Google–can probably let you know who’s working behind the scenes and if they’re available for more work or as part of a production company or network.

There are a lot of reasons to start a podcast for your business–it’s just a matter of assessing your needs, and seeing if a podcast could address them, and then resourcing the project. In the meantime–maybe start running some ads?