Just Make Sure They Know It’s An Ad

Podcast listeners prefer native host-read ads to recorded units, according to new research from the IAB and Edison Research. According to this new study, 55% of podcast listeners expressed a positive sentiment to hearing an ad discussed by the show’s host, while 34% had the same response when asked how they liked “pre-recorded advertisements from a brand, company or sponsor.” If the advertiser was positioned as the sponsor of a show they liked, the listener’s response was favorable 61% of the time.

Podcast listeners put a lot of weight in ads read live by hosts. One interesting note about this is, I know from talking to some podcast publishers, that those ads are often recorded, but with the design and intention of having them sound like part of the program. One person told me the ad is actually recorded when the program is recorded, but separately. This, so that scheduling, starting and stopping a campaign, and dynamic ad insertion can happen. Good idea. New ads each time, with the same tempo of the day’s program.

Podcasters have developed a really great niche in native ads. That comes from a few places. First, let’s give credit to public radio, one of the early sources of great podcast content. Public radio folks are all about host read ads that don’t really sound like ads, born out of the requirements of publicly funded on-air broadcasting. That training made them approach ads in podcasts from a different place – a live, host read, irregular length, soft sell approach that feels like part of the program, not part of a commercial stop-set.

Second, native ads were born from necessity, since the first advertisers that were willing to invest in the space were direct response brands who were evaluating the success of the campaign based on the results. That made podcasters work hard to make it work.

Native ads are great for podcasting – they make listeners happy, and happy listeners spend more time listening. They make advertisers happy, and that makes them spend more. As demand for the inventory grows, and it will because audience is growing, it will be important for advertisers and sellers to remember the importance of the native sounding approach to listeners.

At the same time, podcasters and advertisers should be aware of the FTC guidelines for truth in advertising. It has to be clear that it’s an ad. Sounds easy, but with host-read ads it can get a little tricky. It’s a good idea to very clearly identify the ad as an ad to avoid any confusion. For more information, you can check out the guidelines from the FTC here.


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