Are Podcast Ads Profitable? Plus How to Get Started (Guest Post)

The podcast industry is projected to surpass $1 billion in podcast ads sold in 2021. Here’s how to get a piece of that pie.

Monetizing a podcast can come in many different forms. Your podcast could be a marketing vehicle to help you sell your products and services. You could also receive donations from listeners, or sell advertisements on your podcast. Each of these approaches can be profitable—it’s simply a matter of determining which best fits your business and goals. In this post, I’ll cover how to get started monetizing your podcast using ads.

The podcast industry is projected to surpass $1 billion in podcast ads sold this year, so there’s no question that brands are spending in the space. The question is, how do you get a piece of that advertiser pie? The first step to getting sponsorships is to determine if your podcast is ready for advertisers. 

Why is it important to make sure your podcast is ready for advertisers? That answer is simple. Prepare your show for advertisers, and you’ll have more success landing deals and creating long-lasting partnerships with those advertisers. Here are the five steps to getting started with podcast ads.

  1. Know Your Audience
  2. Prepare to Connect with Advertisers
  3. Price & Package Your Ads
  4. Create a Media Kit
  5. Find Podcast Sponsors That Align with You

Know Your Audience

Companies know who purchases their products, and they are looking to partner with podcasts that can deliver that audience. Therefore, it is vitally important that you know who listens to your show. My experience has been that it is common for hosts to guess about their audience. 

Being handed your listener demographics would be helpful, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. If you’re interested in working with advertisers, you need to know your audience. One of the best ways to gather this information is by running a listener survey. Create a survey using a tool like Google Forms or Typeform, and ask your audience to complete it. An incentive for completing the survey may help increase your response rate. Make sure to include questions such as gender, age, income, and education. These are the building blocks of demographic research.

Prepare to Connect with Advertisers

I’m regularly shocked about the number of podcasts that don’t provide clear contact information, including a website. If you want advertisers to reach you, make it as easy as possible. Several resources are available to create affordable websites. Here is an example of my podcast using Podpage. 

Here are the basic pages to include on your podcast’s website:

  1. Episodes Page (Home Page)
  2. About Us
  3. Contact
  4. Media Kit/Advertiser Page

Price & Package Your Ads

I hear this a lot: Your audience’s size doesn’t impact your ability to get advertisers. I’d like to politely disagree with that statement. If your audience isn’t large enough, sponsors and advertisers will not see a return on their investment. 

The number of downloads you need to attract advertisers depends on the type of audience you have. The more niche your podcast is, the more desirable your audience will be to advertisers. So, you can charge more! For example, a general comedy show reaches a broad audience group; therefore, you will need a larger audience than would a show that explicitly reaches female athletes. 

If you plan to sell podcast ads yourself, one thousand downloads per episode in thirty days is usually an excellent place to start. However, if you want to partner with a representation company, you’ll need 5,000-10,000+ downloads per episode in thirty days to sell ads for you. Of course, the size of your audience will also dictate how much you can charge for ads. 

When you have a smaller audience, consider packaging your podcast with other mediums such as social, newsletter, or banner ads. Develop a flat-rate package that will make sense for both you and the advertiser. If your audience is large, you may consider cost per thousand (CPM) pricing. Current industry rates range from $15 to $50 CPM, depending on the type of audience you reach. 

Related: How to Start a Podcast in 2021: The Complete Podcasting Tutorial

Create a Media Kit

A media kit is usually the first thing a sponsor will ask you to send over for review. It is a sales document that has pertinent information about your podcast.

A media kit should include the following:

  1. The podcast description you created in step one
  2. Podcast cover art that you reviewed in step two
  3. A bio of the host(s)
  4. Listener demographics
  5. Download numbers based on embedded or dynamic insertion in step three
  6. Pricing and package options

Do you know who is listening to your podcast? Understanding your audience is one of the essential elements when positioning your podcast to prospective advertisers. (If you’ve done the work I recommended under “Know Your Audience” above, you should be in good shape.) For example, what is their age, gender, education level, household income, marital status, etc.? Create a listener avatar for both content creation as well as advertiser outreach.

Keep your media kit concise, about three to five pages, and make sure it only contains relevant information. I recommend hiring a designer to create your media kit because you want it to be visually appealing. You may be able to use a tool, such as Canva, if you’re design savvy. But ultimately, you’re looking for a piece that will be a quality representation of your podcast and the brand partnerships you’ll be looking to create. 

Find Podcast Sponsors That Align with You

You can use a variety of outlets to attract sponsors, depending on your needs. 

There are online marketplaces where you can list your show, like AdvertiseCast, Popcorn & Zvook. Other options are to partner with networks or representation firms like True Native Media to solicit advertisers on your behalf. Working with a firm can be a good option if your podcast gets 5,000-10,000+ downloads per episode. However, if your numbers are still small, direct outreach to specific brands works well.

Podcast ads can be profitable if you prepare your show correctly and price your advertising packages to benefit the advertiser and make a little profit for your show. 

When your podcast is ready for advertisers, there is money to be made, so your approach is critical. Make sure to follow all the steps in this article closely so your podcast is ready for advertisers.

To learn more about turning your side-hustle podcast into a profitable business, read this other article I wrote: “5 Tips to Turn Your Side-Hustle Podcast Into a Profitable Business.”

Related: Another way to monetize your podcast, with Jason Sew Hoy from Supercast

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  • Heather Osgood

    Heather Osgood is the founder of True Native Media, a boutique podcast representation agency specializing in podcast advertising. She is the creator of Podcast Moneymaker, a course for podcasters who want the formula, tools, and tactics to get advertisers in six weeks. She is also the host of The Podcast Advertising Playbook, a show dedicated to educating anyone interested in podcast advertising.

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