What is podcast advertising? Can you advertise your podcast in podcast ads? What is podcast sponsorship? When thinking about podcast growth, these are some of the common questions we see podcasters ask and search for. However, these terms can be quite ambiguous. Searching for a clear explanation can be frustrating and often leads to more questions than answers. 

If you find yourself in this endless querey boat, then you’re in luck! Headliner has combined all those Google searches and “related searches” into a single, comprehensive dictionary that covers everything you need to know about how to advertise your podcast. 

Think of this post as a guidebook—a guidebook for anyone who wants to learn about podcast advertising and paid podcast growth.

Whether you’re a podcaster, a marketer, or just someone who’s curious about this topic, this blog will provide you with all the information you need to know.

Without ado – let’s get to defining! 

The Basics Defined

This section outlines the different types of podcast advertising. Starting with the general umbrella search terms, here you can learn more about the basic types of podcast advertising

But first, let’s define exactly what podcast advertising is. 

Podcast advertising: Podcast advertising, also known as paid podcast promotion, is when podcasters pay to increase their visibility, audience, and engagement. It is a form of digital marketing and a common practice in the creative world. The primary goal of podcast advertising is podcast growth. ( Podcast growth, meaning to grow a podcast audience while retaining an existing audience.) 

Podcast ad types

Now, we’ll move into the different forms podcast advertising can take. 

  1. Programmatic advertising: (Programmatic is a trending “people also asked…” prompt!) Programmatic advertising automates the media buying process through digital ads. It allows you to set targeting parameters and uses online tools to promote your podcast dynamically. 
Headliner's programmatic podcast ad tool Podcast Promo as seen on CNN.
Example of Headliner’s programmatic podcast ad tool, Podcast Promo, in action!
  1. Social ads: Social ads are digital advertising assets that social media channels use to show content to target audiences. 
Mock example of social media podcast advertising.
This is an example of what a social media ad can look like in feed (aka, we made a fake ad using Canva).
  1. Digital advertising: Digital ads, like those on YouTube or search engines, look and function similarly to social ads. However, they allow for more robust targeting options with keywords and search behaviors.   
Podcast growth tools via digital and search podcast ads. YouTube and Google Ads shown.
  1. Paid Search: Paid search involves advertising to people searching for a group of targeted keywords. You’ve likely seen paid search in action if you’ve noticed “Sponsored” above the search engine results page (SERP).
  1. Sponsored Content: Sponsored Content involves paying to have a podcast mentioned, showcased, or featured on another platform. Sponsored content is the most fluid of the paid promotional forms. 

Programmatic, social, digital, and paid advertising are direct concepts in podcast advertising. They are clear and easily understood examples that functionally have little deviation upon set up.

Sponsored content, however, is a little more abstract. The next section will podcasters through the different formats podcast advertising can take as sponsored content. 

Types of Sponsored Content Defined

Sponsored content, as we said, is fluid. The three primary forms sponsored content takes in the“ podcast advertising world” are:

  1. Host-read: Content read by a show’s host. The primary benefit of host-read content is that it is exceptionally trustworthy and establishes a strong connection with listeners.
  1. Pre-recorded or produced ads: Content recorded separately from the show. Pre-recorded ads can be placed into the show manually during the editing process or placed using dynamic insertion tools. 
  1. Branded content and podcast sponsorship: Weaves promotional messaging into existing content. It is an open form of podcast advertising that can include show shoutouts, sponsored segments, paid partnerships, and everything in between!

When thinking about sponsored content, you are most likely thinking about podcast ads. These are the audio commercials you hear IN podcasts. 

But did you know you can actually pay to have your podcast advertised in another podcast? By investing in sponsored content, you easily reach an engaged target audience that is likely interested in your podcast’s topic. 

Leveraging sponsored content in this sense is a straightforward way to promote your podcast to a group of listeners. And, as we know, podcast listeners are more likely to convert than any other type of audience! So, if you invest in sponsored content, you will likely see a direct impact on listenership. 

And if recording or scriptwriting isn’t your thing—no worries! Branded content and podcast sponsorship still offer podcasters a way to leverage existing show traffic to raise awareness and find new ears. Some examples of branded content and podcast sponsorship are creating co-branded marketing materials, like blogs or social media posts, newsletter sponsorship, or segment or show sponsorship. Branded content and podcast sponsorship connect your podcast to another but in a less “ad-y” way. 

Where podcast advertising can live

Podcast advertising can live in several places. In shows, podcast advertising can be in one of three spots: 

  1. Pre-RollPre-Roll ads play at the beginning of an episode.
  1. Mid-Roll—Mid-roll ads can appear anywhere in the episode. Mid-roll ads act like TV commercials. They help break up content or signal switches in topics. This is especially true if they are baked in by the editor/host. 
  1. Post-Roll – Post-roll ads are placed at the end of the episode. 

Outside of in-show placement, podcast advertising can live as branded content and podcast sponsorship or in marketplaces. 

  1. Branded content and podcast sponsorship: Branded content and podcast sponsorship can occur at any point in a podcast or related promotional content. 
  1. Marketplaces – Podcasters can create and submit ads to marketplaces. Marketplace networks help you place your ad on other shows.

Branded content and podcast sponsorship are perfect for shows or hosts with an established network. You’ll also likely have more control over placement and promotion. 

Marketplaces, however, are perfect for shows with a limited network or that have already tapped into their network. Marketplaces help you reach a broader, more diverse range of shows.

With marketplace placement, you lose some of the control you otherwise would have with branded content and podcast sponsorship. By placing an ad on a marketplace, where the ad “lives” is determined by hosts or software selection. 

When considering marketplaces, you’ll likely need to research how to best present, structure, and categorize your ad to attract the type(s) of podcasts you’d like. 

Ad insertion Explained

Ad insertion is adding an ad or piece of sponsored content. Podcast ads are added in one of two ways: dynamic insertion or baked-in. 

Dynamic ad insertion is a technique for inserting advertisements into podcasts in real-time or on demand. Placement occurs at the point of consumption. Marketplaces commonly use dynamic insertion to get podcast ads into other shows.

Dynamic ads allow for ample listener targeting. Advertisers can target things like location, listening device, and time of day to make ads more relevant to each listener. Dynamic ads offer greater flexibility, scalability, and timeliness than traditional ads.

Baked-in ads are manually added to the podcast and become a permanent part of the episode. They can be recorded simultaneously as the episode or added manually during editing. 

One of the biggest distinctions between dynamic ad insertion and baked-in ads is the level of permanence. Baked-in ads become a permanent part of the podcast’s feed. They are tied to that episode or show forever.

With dynamic ads, different ads will appear depending on the listener. They are not tied to that episode or show forever.

Regardless of placement, sponsored content is an effective way to reach an engaged audience. 

Podcast Advertising Wrapped 

Navigating the landscape of podcast advertising can feel overwhelming. However, if done correctly, it can significantly boost your show’s visibility and listener engagement AND open the door to podcast monetization. 

Understanding podcast advertising provides a strong foundation for your paid marketing efforts. By learning about the options available, you ensure that any money spent will have a meaningful impact and move you toward your podcasting goals. 

Hopefully, this simple guide will help you understand all the options available to make a well-informed decision that aligns with your overall podcast and audience growth.