Podcast advertising is just one of many ways to grow your show's audience.
Growing an audience, ultimately, starts with creating good content on a consistent basis though. Then, if you make it easy to find and share, you'll struggle not to grow your audience.
However, many early-stage and aspiring podcasters don't like to hear that it can take months, or even years, to build an established listener-base.
Podcasting is a long game though, and “overnight success” is a myth in this medium.
Getting More Plays
There's no getting away from the above facts. But, for those willing to spend some money, it is possible to get more ears on your podcast in a short period of time.
Of course, your content will still need to do its job in making these listeners stick around to hit subscribe. But, you're on this site, so naturally, you've already got that part nailed down!
So, on to the reason you clicked here. Where can you actually run some podcast advertising? And which options are the most suited to you and your target audience?
What are the Paid Podcast Advertising Options?
The following list is ever-changing, ever-growing. At the time of writing, here are the best options available to you.
They're in no particular order, because in podcasting it's rarely ever a case of “the best”, and almost always a case of “it depends”.
Advertising on Social Media
Perhaps the most immediately obvious option is running an ad somewhere like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Depending on the platform, you might opt for text, image, or even video.
Your ads can be very specifically targeted on these platforms. Targeting helps whittle down the types of people you're looking to reach. That means you can spend less money, and reach more relevant listeners.
For example, we could advertise our space show – Hostile Worlds – on Facebook this way. We might target users who have listed an interest in Space or Astronomy, or who are members of a ‘space chat' group, or have liked ‘Astronomy Today' magazine.
These are busy platforms and, with a good advert and the right targeting, it isn't too difficult to rack up a few ‘likes'. But, these don't always translate to listens. In fact, there's no guarantee the folks you'll reach with your ads are podcast listeners – or even know what a podcast is.
That's where a second layer of targeting fits. Target those who like BOTH space AND podcasting. Then, you'll reach folks who are more likely to listen. This cuts your reach, of course, but makes it more relevant. And I definitely think there are advantages to reaching outside of our already crowded ‘existing listeners' pool. With the right show and a powerful message, perhaps you can create a few brand new podcast listeners! In my experience, you rarely forget your first favourite show, and you're even more likely to tell your friends.
Remember, social media advertising can be good for visibility, but people seeing it are still a few clicks away from listening to your show. And these platforms are busy, distracting, and cultivate short attention spans. So, tread lightly at first, test it out, and only commit real funds once you know it works for your niche.
For more on this, check out How to Grow Your Podcast with Facebook Ads.
Promoting a Podcast on Google Ads
Google ads is another behemoth of online advertising, and there's a good chance you see dozens of these every single day. The image below shows some examples – spot the [ad] marker beside the URL for the top 3 results.
If you have a show which answers a question, in any way, then Google ads could work really well for you. For example, you're a coach that teaches people how to be more confident on your show, or you're a running influencer who tells people what are the best running products to buy.
If you know what people are searching for in your niche, and your show has an answer for that search, then you can use Google ads.
Moving to how they work, Google ads are ‘text only' which is a benefit for many people.
Firstly, it means it's quick. You can have a campaign up and running in just 20 minutes. All you have to do is write. No pesky image or video creating.
Next, it means that anyone can compete on an even playing field, no matter your budget. In contrast, on Facebook and Instagram, it's often those with the biggest budget that win. The big companies can spend more on amazingly designed image adverts, or pro video content.
On Google ads, though, it's about your message, and that alone. So, if you know the words people are typing into Google, and what they really want as a result, you can hook them in with a nicely crafted message.
For example, we might choose to advertise our ‘how to podcast' show, Podcraft. I know that one question it answers well is: How do I start a podcast? So, I think of the terms related to that. For example:
- how to start a podcast
- how to make a podcast
- how to create a podcast
I create one ad-set (a Google ads term that just means a collection of adverts) that targets all of those keywords together.
Then, I create a headline and a subheader for my ad that answers the question those searchers have. Such as:
Learn How to Start a Podcast
Podcraft's Step by Step Guide
Finally, you can give a bit more detail in the description.
Podcraft is a podcast that teaches you everything you need to know about starting your own show. Listen as Colin & Matthew break it down, as if you were a 5 year old!
You can run Google ads for as little as $1 (or less!) per day, just to try it out. Even at that level, you should be able to grow awareness, bit by bit. Just like social, it'll take a little testing to find the right keywords, and the right message. Once you've found it, you can ramp it up and capitalise on that success.
Advertising on Podcast Listening Apps
Advertising your show on a podcast listening app is a powerful thing. After all, 100% of the people you reach with your ads are podcast listeners. And not only that – they're actively using a podcast listening app when they see your ad.
These are the folks who're most likely to be receptive to your ads. If your content and message looks good, it's not going to take too much persuasion to win them over.
Podcast Advertising on Overcast
Overcast is a popular iOS-based podcast listening app.
You can pay to run ads inside Overcast. They appear as little non-intrusive banners at the bottom of users screens, whilst they're viewing the app.
When setting up your Overcast ad, you choose a category that best describes your podcast (eg; Business, Comedy, Sports, etc). The pricing varies from category to category, which is likely due to demand and popularity.
Once live, your ad will then run for 30 days.
Anyone who sees it is only one click away from viewing your show in the app, and two clicks away from listening or subscribing.
Recently, we ran an ad campaign on Overcast to test it all out. Click the link to see our results in full!
Podcast Advertising on Pocket Casts
The Pocket Casts app is available on iOS, Android, or Desktop, so you have a huge potential reach here.
The app has a ‘Discover' section, where you can run paid placements. This section gets 350k unique views per week, according to Pocket Casts. Another stat they provide is that their average user listening time is 10 hours per week.
Sponsored slots on Pocket Casts costs a cool $2000. Your show will be displayed right there in the ‘Discover' section for one week.
This option looks suited to big brand or network shows who're short on time, but have a bit of budget behind them to help grow that early core audience.
Podcast Advertising on Podcast Addict
Podcast Addict is another of the biggest listening apps in the world. Recently, Podcast Addict created a podcast advertising feature.
Podcast Addict's ad setup is similar to Overcast in many ways, in terms of how it works, and its benefits.
One slight variation is that there are 2 different ad placements available. You can opt for the main screen – the area where users are searching for new podcasts. Or, you can place your ad in a specific category to target users browsing in there.
You can run your podcast ad in any language. Once live, it will run for a full month.
Podcast Advertising on Spotify
Spotify have invested big in podcasting this past year. They've also cemented their position as the number two place podcasts are consumed, behind Apple themselves.
Granted, most Spotify users will be on there to listen to music. But there are certainly far worse places to advertise your podcast. Currently, the app boasts a whopping 116 million “ad supported” listeners. These are folks who obviously enjoy listening to audio.
Spotify ads are predominantly audio, though there’s a visual element too. They display your logo on screen with a “Learn More” button, whilst the ad is playing. The ads are played in-between songs or podcast episodes, to listeners who use Spotify on their free tier.
You can create and run a 30 second audio ad for your show by signing up to Spotify Ad Studio.
Here, you can really hone in on the targeting, selecting things like age, gender, location, and even the styles of music your ads will appear alongside.
Spotify ads are similar to social media ads in the sense that you set a budget and date range, before being offered an estimated number of ads to be served. For example, $500 might get you around 25,000 ads.
This is better than social media, in the sense that you're reaching people who are actively consuming audio content. And if they happen to be looking at their screen at the time the ad is playing, they’ll also see your ad logo and a “Learn More” button, which will take them to your destination of choice.
Creating Your Spotify Ad
You can create your own ad, or work with Spotify to have them create it for you.
Spotify provides audio and image specs for ads you want to make yourself. Or, they offer a Voiceover Tool service for ad buyers at no extra cost.
With the Voiceover Tool, you write your script, select the ad language, choose a preferred voice type to read your ad, and you can choose background music from their extensive library too.
Spotify will then have the ad recorded and mixed. It’ll be ready to review within 24-48 hours, after which, you'll have the option to approve it, make changes, or reject it.
Once approved, your ad is ready to be heard.
Podcast Advertising in Print Magazines
Are you podcasting in a traditionally “non-techy” niche? Maybe you spend quite a lot of time explaining what a podcast is to your target audience.
If this is you, then the best route for running paid ads might be through industry or trade magazines.
Print magazines have experienced a bit of a renaissance in recent years. In fact, it seems to be the ultra-niche ones that have best weathered the digital storm, and continue to grow from strength to strength.
This is perfect for doing some targeted advertising for your show. Whether you're podcasting about fly fishing, gardening, or model railways, you'll likely find a magazine serving up the same topic to a dedicated fanbase.
In your ad, you might still have to dedicate a bit of space to the “what is a podcast?” question. Just be sure to really sell them on the benefits of listening, and stress that it's absolutely free.
You might even want to send them to a dedicated ‘how to listen to a podcast‘ page on your site, for maximum effect.
Some magazines might also be open to a sponsored content partnership. This is something that I'll talk about further on in this post.
Guerrilla marketing is a great podcast advertising option for those with little or no budget.
The concept is that you use creative, unconventional, or surprise methods to draw attention to your show. This could be anything from a street performance, to releasing a bunch of branded balloons at an event or gathering.
It'll always depend on your topic, as well as your target audience, but there are infinite possibilities for getting out there and drawing attention to your podcast. Just be mindful of any local laws, and be sure to stay on the right side of them!
Here's our full guide to Guerrilla Marketing for Podcasters, which will help get you started.
Podnews is an essential daily email newsletter. It's predominantly aimed at keeping podcasters up-to-date with the latest industry news. But most podcasters are podcast listeners too, and you can advertise your podcast to them here for $25 a day.
You can write your ad, choose the dates you want to run it, and pay online.
With Podnews advertising you can promote your show to over 9,000 subscribers every weekday. And recipients include folks from the likes of the BBC, NPR, Gimlet, and Apple Podcasts – you never know who might take an interest.
All ads run in Podnews will also appear permanently on their website.
Running Podcast Ads on Reddit
Reddit is described as a “social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.” On top of that, it's one of the most visited websites in the world – and it's yet another place you can run paid ads to promote your content.
To advertise your podcast on Reddit, you first need to sign up with Reddit Ads. You can then look at creating your first campaign.
Here, Reddit will ask you for your campaign objective. The options they give include “Brand Awareness and Reach”, “Traffic”, “Conversions”, and “Video Views”.
You can tailor your ad targeting, going as wide or as narrow as you like, selecting from a range of interests and niche Reddit communities.
You can also run location targeting. If you're based in the US, you can even do this on a per-State basis. On top of that, you can choose which devices your ads will run on – for example, a podcast about iOS/Apple products wouldn't want to waste their money advertising to Android users.
One interesting aspect of Reddit ads is that you can upload video as your promoted content. This gives you the opportunity to use a compelling section of one of your episodes, re-worked in video format. For podcasters, this has the potential to work really well.
Sponsoring a Blog
If you're running a podcast focused on a certain subject, then there's a good chance there are a few blogs out there covering the same thing.
Most bloggers will be open to the idea of you doing a guest post, or even sponsored content on their site.
This works by you writing an article that's interesting and useful to the audience. This article also links back to your own content, and encourages the reader to go and check that out once they're done.
These relationships can be mutually beneficial, and great for fans of your topic as a whole. If you run an interview show, you might even invite a blogger to be a guest on a future episode.
Advertising on Other Podcasts
This isn't always a paid advertising option, but definitely a useful one, if done in the right way.
Podcasts of similar size, covering the same (or similar) topics, can benefit from exchanging short promotional trailers to be played on one another's episodes.
After all, you're not in direct competition, in the way two TV shows that air at the exact same time are. And each podcast is unique, with its own exclusive features, angles, and quirks. Your audience aren't going to leave you just because they find another show they enjoy covering the same topic.
Where trailer swaps don't work, is when there's no thought gone into it. Someone on a Reddit thread agrees to advertise someone else's cooking podcast on their baseball show, and vice-versa. Is the podcast enough like yours that your listeners have mutual interests?
Advertising on other podcasts can still take the more traditional ‘sponsor a podcast‘ approach too, though. If you're willing to pay, you can get your ads out there just the same as the sock company, the mattress company, and the food hamper company do.
Summary: Podcast Advertising
Hopefully that's helped give you some ideas for places to advertise that best suit you, your podcast, and your budget.
Here's some resources that might be worth checking out next.
- What's a good number of downloads for a podcast? This is important for setting expectations.
- How do listeners actually discover podcasts? This can help you determine exactly where and how you'd like to promote your show.
- Some tips for promoting your podcast that don't involve paid advertising.
- And work on creating content that's unique and interesting – that way your audience will do a lot of your advertising for you!
And, if you need some more tailored help reaching more listeners, check out The Podcast Host Academy. There, you'll have access to our live Q&A sessions, community forums, and a multitude of courses such as 30 Days of Audience Growth. It'd be great to work with you in there!