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Anatomy Of A Podcast Ad

Elsewhere on FiveThirtyEight, Stan Alcorn reported on the podcast advertising market and what a census of one week’s worth of podcasts revealed. The file above is a mashup of podcast ads, all from Squarespace, all from episodes in the iTunes top 100 that week.

While you listen, you’ll notice some of the basic elements of a podcast ad:

  • The same ad copy is distributed to all the hosts. It’s one thing to hear the same language over one or two podcasts. It’s a little jarring to hear it filter out over a dozen or more shows.
  • Often a podcast advertiser will buy an ad before the show (the “preroll”) and an ad in the middle of the show (the “midroll”). Typically, the preroll is more of a formal-sounding ad and the midroll is a little casual and personal.
  • While companies like Squarespace send along language, many advertisers like it when hosts ad-lib and personalize the pitch. You can hear Roman Mars (“99% Invisible”) do it here — Scott Aukerman (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”) too. Podcasts in particular hinge on a listener’s connection with the host. If the host is delivering the ads in her own words, all the better.
  • Even though podcast advertisers are comfortable with hosts straying from the script, they will often include certain “must read” language. In this case, it seemed to be a mention of a few Squarespace 7 features and a plug for Jeff Bridges’s Super Bowl ad.
  • And, of course, there’s that podcast ad staple: the promo code. It’s a way for the advertiser to track how much business is being driven to the site and, in turn, a way for podcasters to negotiate for higher rates. You’ll also notice that some shows get a promo code and others get a custom URL.

That’s how a podcast ad comes together. We do it for the sponsors of our sports podcast “Hot Takedown.” Now, go build yourself an all-in-one website. And don’t forget that promo code.

Podcasts featured in the clip above: Science Friday, 99% Invisible, America’s Test Kitchen, Comedy Bang! Bang!, This American Life, Snap Judgment, Radiolab, How Did This Get Made?, The New Yorker’s Political Scene, StarTalk, On Being, Stuff You Should Know

Jody Avirgan hosts and produces podcasts for FiveThirtyEight.