HG: Who are the biggest podcast stars out there in terms of downloads?
MM: There are four groups to consider: audio and video, and content produced by established media companies and independents. The top traditional media audio podcasts are:
The top independent media audio podcasts are:
The top traditional media video podcasts are:
The top independent media video podcasts are:
HG: Can you give an example of media buyers incorporating podcast sponsorships into their media buying? Please also list specific kinds of ad units.
MM: The person who has been a real leader in developing the online serial show and has made some of the most effective online advertising for brands in the process has been “This Week in Tech”‘s Leo Laporte. With many years of radio and television experience behind him, Leo has set the standard for delivering the host-read-messages format as part of an integrated approach to his shows. Numerous brands from credit cards to computers to entertainment brands have benefited from his experience. Leo begins his show with a 10-second mention within the first 60 seconds of the podcast and then follows this up with a longer 30-second position sometime later in the podcast. And working only from talking points, Leo has a conversation with his audience about the brand and produces a highly memorable and effective result.
Building on the success of the host-read approach, for theatrical and DVD releases targeting young males, we placed ads in the popular “Ask A Ninja” video series. For ad formats here, Podtrac developed and placed a partial-screen 10-second video within the first 90-seconds of the video, followed by a 10-second full-screen video later in the show with a Ninja-created and -read audio message as the voiceover. The videos were posted to iTunes, YouTube, and numerous other Web sites, and each video has received more than half a million views.
HG: What are the metrics you can use to measure the success of a program?
MM: First, we measure delivery with our measurement and ad-insertion systems. The metrics here are unique downloads, and with our recently announced TrueTrack play measurement system for portable and online consumption (currently in beta), the metric is a play of an audio or video ad.
HG: Can you tell us any tips or best practices that would make a podcast sponsorship successful?
MM: Research before you buy. Look at the most popular podcasts by doing keyword searches in iTunes or by using free podcast planning tools by companies like Podtrac, or ask for recommendations from people who follow the space closely.
Consider both the famous and the unknown. In some categories, the most popular podcast will be one produced by an established media companies. In others, it will be produced by someone unknown to you. Unlike on YouTube, where one show clip can hit the top of the charts but not necessarily have the level of consistent quality or “big idea” that builds an audience steadily over time, building an audience around serial online shows with regular listening or viewing behavior is a higher level of effort. And those that do it well become the most popular over time.
Don’t assume you know the demos. I was shocked when I first saw our survey results for “MuggleCast,” an iTunes top 100 podcast. A huge percentage of their audience is teen girls who like not only Harry Potter but the young male hosts themselves. As in other media, audience demos vary widely from property to property, so content is not enough to determine brand relevance. Demographics are essential.
Know your U.S. versus international delivery. Every podcast is downloaded in every continent, and the percentage of international audience can vary widely by podcast and even by episode. So if your target is U.S. only, make sure that’s the only delivery you’re paying for.
Ask for both short and extended proposals, you may find that having a longer-term proposal nets you the savings you’re looking for and gives you the time you need to review a campaign in progress and make adjustments to optimize it.
Be aware of explicit material. Making sure the podcasts you work with have been evaluated using a content rating system, such as the one developed by Podtrac.
HG: What kinds of rates can one expect to pay for sponsorships?
MM: Most audio or video podcast ads cost $25 to $50 per unique thousand downloads. Ad positions per podcast range from one to three, depending on the length and format of the podcast.
Thanks, Mark, for all this great information. Clearly podcasts are becoming a huge part of our media consumption diet, and we must all figure out how best to adjust our media tactics to leverage this new content medium.
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