It’s no secret that podcasts have become a popular marketing tool for brands to connect with their audience and flex their expertise. Branded podcasts are like the superheroes of the marketing world – they have a unique power to captivate their audience, share their expertise, and leave a lasting impact. As the popularity of podcasting as a marketing tool continues to grow, so does the number of ad placements within episodes. While this may be a common practice in the industry, here at FRQNCY Media, we can’t help but raise an eyebrow or two. Monetizing a branded podcast through traditional advertising methods may not always be the way to go. In this blog post, we’re going to spill the tea on why cashing in on your branded podcast might not be the best idea for every brand.
Interrupting the Listening Experience
Picture this: you’re listening to a podcast on your daily commute, enjoying the conversation between the host and guest, and suddenly, an ad interrupts the flow. Your train of thought is disrupted, and you find yourself skipping the ad, hoping to get back to the content you tuned in for. We’ve all been there, and it’s not a fun experience.
As a brand, interrupting the listening experience of your audience can be counterproductive. Your audience tunes in to your branded podcast because they trust you to provide valuable content that interests them. Interrupting that trust with ads can make listeners question the value of the content and the brand as a whole.
So, why would a brand risk turning away listeners by interrupting the flow of their podcast with ads? They might believe the return on investment is worth it. But is it?
Let’s bust out our calculators and crunch some numbers, shall we? CPM, or “cost per mille,” is a metric commonly used to predict ad revenue. For podcasts, the average CPM is around $20 for a 60-second spot, which means that a brand will earn $20 for every 1,000 listens. Even if a podcast episode manages to hit the impressive milestone of 10,000 listens (which is well above the threshold for the top 1% of podcasts), the brand would only earn $200. For an entire 12-episode season with a more realistic range of 1,000 to 3,000 listens per episode, the total revenue would be $240 to $720. While this might make sense for an independent creator or smaller network, larger brands investing significant resources into their branded podcasts may find that this added revenue isn’t worth the potential loss in listeners.
And if you’re thinking that you can just pile on more ads to increase your earnings, think again. The more ads you add, the lower the rate of conversion becomes. It’s not just a matter of quantity over quality. In fact, filling your podcast with too many ads is like wearing socks with sandals – it’s a major turn-off for listeners. Your audience is likely to lose interest, tune out, or even unsubscribe altogether. So, if you want to maintain and grow your listener base, it’s essential to prioritize the listener over generating revenue.
More Valuable Success Metrics
Brands should also take into account more valuable success metrics that can have a long-lasting impact on their business. For instance, building brand awareness through a podcast can lead to increased visibility, credibility, and, ultimately, conversions. Thought leadership, on the other hand, can position a brand as an industry expert and attract new customers who value thought leadership.
Additionally, podcasts can be a powerful tool for building a community around a brand. By creating content that resonates with listeners and encourages engagement, brands can foster a sense of belonging and loyalty among their audience. And with each new episode, a brand can generate more content that can be repurposed across various marketing channels.
Ultimately, it’s wise to look at success through a lens of engagement received outside the podcast, which makes it important to define how the podcast plugs into your existing marketing ecosystem.
Alternative Strategies for Non-Profits or Start-Ups
If you’re a non-profit organization or a startup brand with limited resources, securing a sponsor can be a smart move without solely relying on podcast ads for financial support. A sponsor not only provides the brand with the financial backing needed, but they can also help promote the podcast to their already engaged audience. This way, you can reach a broader audience and build brand recognition while still creating valuable content for your listeners.
And the good news is that you don’t have to be a master salesperson to land a sponsor for your podcast. We’ve helped nonprofits like Let’s Talk Menopause secure sponsors for their podcast by researching opportunities, identifying brands that align with their values and target audience, and crafting compelling pitches.
Regardless of the resources at your disposal, brands should experiment with different monetization strategies, like selling merchandise or premium content or offering exclusive access to events and workshops.
Here’s a list of just a few ideas, if direct revenue is a must-have measure of success:
- Podcast Merchandise: Phoebe Robinson also sells podcast merchandise online so fans can support the podcast and other small businesses.
- Live/Premium Events: Curate events for your audience with exclusive access to premium content – like these True Crime IRL tours at various locations.
- Patreon: The platform allows creators to use a membership model to drive predictable revenue for exclusive content. Meet the top Patreon podcasters.
- Sponsorships/Partnerships: Establish sponsorships and/or partnerships to curate events, produce merchandise, or offer other resources.
- Courses/Resources/Certifications: Offer tools and educational resources like courses with certifications.
- Donations: Create an online donation page for supporters to contribute to.
Discover more in-depth insight on some of these options in our blog post 4 Ways to Monetize Your Podcast.
So, is Monetizing a Branded Podcast Worth it?
While it may be tempting to monetize your podcast right away, it’s important to prioritize the listener experience and create content that resonates with your audience. After all, nobody wants to listen to a podcast that feels like a never-ending ad. Instead, focus on building a community of engaged listeners who value your brand’s expertise and content. And if you’re a non-profit or a startup on a shoestring budget, don’t despair – there are creative ways to secure funding, like finding a sponsor who shares your values and vision. So, keep calm and podcast on, and remember that quality content rules them all.
Paige McCauley is FRQNCY Media’s digital marketing maven and resident musical wunderkind. Paige has a long history with the power of sound as an award-winning recording artist and songwriter, performing at venues like The Fox Theatre, House of Blues in West Hollywood, and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. She also has extensive experience in the music industry, interning for the Recording Academy and working with artists like Billie Eilish, Travis Scott, and Brandi Carlile during her time in college.