The Reason The Same Companies Advertise On Many Podcasts
The most common question in the podcast universe has to be “How do I find sponsors for my show” by far. This has been asked by shows that haven’t even released an episode yet and shows that have dozens of episodes (The latter being more reasonable). The only platform they have to sell ad space on is audio and it’s hosted on Podbean or Libsyn to name a couple. No website, no social presence most of the time and the only thing they have to offer is a couple reads per episode and they need to have thousands of downloads or listens to get an advertiser to consider it.
Podcasts are dirt cheap to buy advertising on and the reach is worth it to them. Someone posted in a subreddit asking about a service that matches your show with an advertiser and they pay $30-$40USD per read. I thought it was a joke and asked the guy if he would really accept a mere $30USD for a read. He said he would with no hesitation (based on his reply speed). This left me scratching my head and asking myself if this is what has become of the medium. Last time I had asked what someone like John Lee Dumas charges (seems to be the gold standard), they said he charges $700USD per read. He does two reads per episode, and one episode Mon-Friday. That’s $7000USD per week, but this isn’t what we are talking about.
People are so desperate that any kind of read will legitimize them somehow. If a show has two hosts I would assume a split and it wouldn’t be claimed as income on a 1099 come tax season. I realize the 1099 sounds silly, but the company that bought it will be sending you a 1099 because they are claiming it as an expense. So you have to keep a record of it.
Nice To Be The Advertiser
I want to list out what I know about when a show could be offered advertising and the benefits to the advertiser.
- Advertisers want cheap ad space with reasonable reach.
- Once you hit 10,000 downloads some smaller advertisers will have a look. Could be more, could be less.
- If you are on Libsyn you have an obligation to work with them first before accepting an outside deal.
- The episode is permanent. One read and then it’s archived to be listened to as long as the audio is available.
- A small ad budget of say $1,000USD buys 33 shows at $30USD each. That is a much better return than CPC, Facebook ads, and so on.
- You will be told how to do the ads and be at the mercy for a measly $30USD.
That list is completely a benefit to the advertiser and not to the podcaster. So adding cheap and longevity together gives sponsors a no-brainer decision on picking lots of podcasts to advertise on to maximize reach. I should note that I was originally going to say the sponsors I commonly hear, but decided to take them out. I can’t just give them more advertising for free. That would defeat the entire purpose of the post! So I will use “Sponsor” as a holding place for the sponsors I am talking about and the ones you always hear episode after episode.
Besides, all of the above, people hear “Sponsor” constantly with the caveat of use this promo code for 10% off. It makes me cringe every time that is mention in a YouTube video and podcasts. I firmly believe that $30USD is sad and to value your show at that rate or even a little higher speaks volumes. Hopefully your show is worth more and it should be. Don’t get me wrong though, there are plenty of $20-$30USD shows out there. Yours it not one of them and you need to believe in that.
Can You Blame Them?
Look, ads happen and we can’t block the audio ones just yet, so maybe it’s time we accept this as a norm? I truly hope not but I already know the responses that will come because of that statement. Every time that I broach this conversation it is the same thing:
- I want to buy new equipment. [Valid]
- I need to pay for hosting. [Valid]
- We want to buy merch for fans. [Too Soon]
- Hey, a little money wouldn’t hurt. [Not Valid]
- This validates our efforts. [Not Valid]
Still, I firmly believe that we can lose 95% of the internet tomorrow and it would be better because of it. This includes this blog, your show, and most of the garbage sitting on web servers everywhere in data centers. The point is that sponsors value cheap mentions and permanent audio ads. It’s probably the best deal available right now. I am actually considering taking a few hundred dollars and sponsor some because it’s worth it. To be heard by 10,000 or more listeners at rock-bottom prices is ridiculous. Besides most of the audio creators have no real business sense and will accept a low offer just to say they were sponsored this week.
The point is that sponsors understand the value proposition of a cheap offer to maximize reach. Podcasters are often ready to read an ad without considering the value they bring to the table. This is the piece that I hope to change with this post. I want podcasters to stop under valuing their content especially when they have reasonable reach. I honestly can’t blame them for dumping a bit of money for big returns on selling stuff to your audience for 10% off or just a “positive review” for your audience to hear. Audio is powerful and you need to value your reach.
On the flip side, if you are just starting out this could help you know when to take sponsorship and at the price you think your show is worth. Avoid the pitfall that so many new shows slide into. Work on your content, reach, and figuring out what you want to charge and don’t take less for it. If you do take less then the sponsors will abuse that. So in the end, I really can’t blame them for taking advantage of shows. If I do decide to sponsor some shows I will share my experience on reach vs cost in a future post.
Now You know
Whenever you listen to podcast shows that give you the same run down on how you can save 10% by using their code or shop on Amazon using their referral link, just note this is common place now. Some will say they need it to continue making good content, and while I question that statement, in many cases, it’s not going away. Take this information and use it to your advantage. Make your content even more valuable by adding a website, a YouTube channel, and social media pages that have reach and then you have more places to leverage. I call the additional places advertising surface area. The more you have, the more options advertisers can choose from.
If you are an advertiser looking for good returns for your campaigns then this is the medium I would personally target. For such a little amount of money you can walk away with big returns if you bet on the right shows. As a business owner and media producer I know both sides and this is why I think it’s an important opportunity for businesses to advertise on. If you doubt this, take $300 and approach 10 podcast shows and offer them $30USD for the read. Make sure to send the listeners to your store or some goal that can be quantified. Pick the right niche that you business or website is in and choose shows with at least 5-10K downloads per episodes. Report back with your results in the comments. I will be working on doing this as well.
There you have my argument for both sides and you can arm yourself however you want. In the past, I used to sponsor WordPress themes for links in the footer because like podcasts they were dirt cheap with big returns in organic traffic. Then it was something else that was under valued. Finally, we are hear discussing the audio market. Do what you think is right, but I warn you to not abuse this imbalance on either side. Good luck, and please give me feedback or stories in the comments below.