Podcast Advertising Examples & Best Practices


Advertising is everywhere in the podcasting world. As podcasts are usually free to listen to, and podcast platforms don’t provide an AdSense-like income stream, podcasters need to turn to ads to generate revenue. 

At ZenCast, we believe the podcasting world should be open to anyone. That’s why we want to lend a helping hand in working out how to navigate the world of sponsorships and advertising in podcasts!

In this article, we’ll explore the types of ads you typically see in regular podcasts and cover some great examples of podcasts that are doing advertising right. 

We’ll also take a look at some best practices for including advertisements and promotions in your podcasts, and share the path to getting started with advertising! 

What is a Podcast Advert?

Podcast advertisements are promotional items (whether that’s an audio clip or a script insert) that companies pay podcasters to insert into their shows. 

An advertiser will usually pay a podcaster a predetermined amount per 1000 downloads or listens — commonly known as cost-per-mile (CPM).

There are a ton of different ways to insert adverts in podcasts, but these two approaches are the most popular:

  • Host-Read Ad: In this method, the host will read out a prepared script to try to push a product. This is usually the most common way and can allow podcasters to change between sponsors. It gives the advertisement a more personal touch than a prerecorded ad and allows you to switch between sponsors easily.

  • Programmatic Ad: A creator may choose to have a pre-recorded advert placed somewhere in their podcast. This is usually done by a process called “dynamic insertion”, which batch-changes ads across a whole catalogue without having to change a podcast’s audio file. 

Both of these methods can be effective, depending on your needs. However, there’s a clear winner here. In 2020, Nielsen found a 50% increase in sales and recommendations for products with a host-read ad on a podcast. 

Podcasters are seen as trustworthy influencers and are often regarded as knowledgeable in their niche.

How Are Adverts Put Into Podcasts?

There are a few slots podcasts normally put their ads on:

  • Pre-Roll Ad: Pre-roll ads go at the start of a podcast.

  • Mid-Roll Ad: Mid-roll ads go in the middle of a podcast.

  • Post-Roll Ad: Post-roll ads go at the end of a podcast.

A lot of sponsors will usually indicate how they want the advert in the podcast. 

Typically, most sponsors will request that you put your ads pre-roll. As the promotion is played at the very start of the show, it will be heard by anyone who listens to your podcast - even if they abandon it during the episode. A pre-roll makes the advert visible to as many people as possible.

Podcasters also tend to favor pre-roll ads, since they won't interfere with any of your podcast's content.

Podcast Advertising Examples

Host-Read Ad — The MTGGoldfish Podcast

The MTGGoldfish Podcast is a relatively small-medium popularity podcast about the card game “Magic: The Gathering”. It has a great example of a host-read pre-roll ad — 

Episode 398: Is Meathook Too Good?

“… so that’s kind of the overview for today. Before we get into it, a reminder that today’s show is brought to you by ‘CardConduit’, the easiest way to sell your Magic cards. And if you’re tired of all of the hassles that go into listing your cards. Well, Card Conduit goes into … 

… You can get another 10% off if you head over to CardConduit.com. CardConduit, they’re the easiest way to sell your Magic Cards. Thank you to CardConduit for supporting the show!”

There are three things this pre roll ad does incredibly well:

  • Relevance: The sponsor in the video is relevant to the topic at hand. This means more listeners will have an interest in what the host has to say about the brand, as the brand applies to their interests.

  • Authenticity: The ad-read isn’t too over-the-top, and it has a strong sense of authenticity. Rather than just saying a product is good “because I said so”, the host provides the solution to a relevant problem. This authenticity will both help the brand and help your reputation for only selling products you believe in.

  • Being natural: In the same vein, the host hasn’t changed their tone of voice or inflection from normal while presenting the ad. The segue in and out of the ad-read flows well, and it isn’t a jarring difference in tone.

All of these make for a great pre-roll, and taking some of these examples on board can help you truly master your advertising skills.

Programmatic Ad — Off Menu With Ed Gamble and James Acaster

Off Menu With Ed Gamble and James Acaster is a comedy-oriented podcast about food. Hosted by two popular stand-up comedians, it provides a great example of how a larger podcast can advertise a well-known brand using programmatic pre-roll ads.

At the start of every episode, a simple 30-second advert for “WhatsApp” is played. Brand uniformity is something a larger, well-established business would want, compared to the array of startups host-read ads advertise. 

This advert demonstrates two important principles of podcast advertising:

  • Relevance: Since WhatsApp is a mobile messaging app, the target audience for the advert is “anyone who owns a mobile phone”. This casts a wide net and means the advert is relevant to a lot of people.

  • Length: The simple 30-second advert is quick enough that it doesn’t interfere with the experience of the podcast. A lot of podcasts will line up three or four 30-second adverts in a row, which can drag for the listener. This solution is much more elegant.

Mid-Roll Ad - David Tennant does a Podcast

Our final example is from Doctor Who actor David Tennant’s celebrity talk show podcast - David Tennant does a Podcast With…

This podcast is produced by Something Else, and they regularly insert mid-roll ads into their episode.

For example, in the latest episode - David Tennant does a Podcast with Elizabeth Moss - the advertisements come in at the half-an-hour mark. They’re a set of programmatic, pre-recorded promotions for other podcasts on the network. 

Here’s one of the promotions in this specific ad break:

“Introducing The Binge - the only podcast network that will never leave you waiting for new episodes. Find your next podcast obsession [by visiting] the Binge Channel page on Apple Podcasts [...] to start binging today!”

Let’s judge this against our criteria: 

  • Relevance: Those listening to a celebrity podcast may indeed be interested in other podcast shows. That presents a great promotional opportunity for a podcast network.

  • Authenticity: The advertisement does read overly promotional - and may not resonate with the casual audience of David Tennant’s podcast. This particular promotion may be more effective as a host-read ad, where Tennant reads out other podcasts he’s interested in.

  • Positioning: This ad break is used to split up sections of the podcast. It’s placed at the natural endpoint of a string of conversations between the host and his guest - and it precedes a change in the conversation topic. 

Best Practices & Pre-Roll Tips for Podcast Advertising

Pre-roll ads are by far the most common in the podcasting industry. Most people will listen through them to get to your podcast, so you need to make sure you’re doing the right thing. Here are some best practices.

Stay Relevant

A great pre-roll ad is relevant to your podcast’s topic and target audience. By making sure your sponsor is somewhat related to what you’re talking about, you can ensure more listeners will be interested enough to listen. You can work this out by either procuring a sponsor in your field or finding a sponsor that appeals to your main demographic.

A good way to ensure relevance is to segue into your ad from your introduction. By creating a link, listeners will tend to not become disinterested and skip through your advert.

Respect Your Listeners’ Time

You don't want your listeners to hear long & drawn-out advertisements. Your audience may abandon your show if your ads are too long. 

You need to find a good balance between short and long, to appease both listeners and your sponsors.

By setting yourself a time limit - say - 30 seconds you can make sure you’re always making your ads bearable for your audience. Check your analytics and see what percentage of your listeners are willing to listen to the ads.

Be Interesting And Natural

Reading an ad out on your podcast can be done in a number of ways. However, you can entice more people with your advert by making your advertisements interesting and unique. An example of this is doing a short skit or just being generally enthusiastic about the product.

The worst kind of podcast advertisement is a forced one though, so don’t try to oversell by being too excited. Just be natural — your listeners are listening in for you. Listeners can usually tell when you’re being inauthentic. They won’t trust your promotion and may even stop listening to your show! 

Stay Informed

You can create a Rolodex of good practices by reading up on how to podcast well. This’ll allow you to become more confident, and let you use your knowledge of what works to refine your ad to a level of sophistication that puts you ahead of everyone else.

A great place to start is the ZenCast blog! We share tons of information and tips to help you supercharge your podcast. Our blog is also a great place to start for those who have dipped their toes in, and want to dive into podcasting.

Why not check out our Podcast Creation Checklist for a step-by-step guide on how to create the perfect podcast? Our guide on How To Build The Perfect Podcast Studio Setup can help you make sure your physical podcasting space is organized and focused!

With articles on how to make, distribute, and grow your podcast, our blog can help your podcast truly shine.

Distribute and Manage Your Podcasts With ZenCast

Ads are very important in the landscape of podcasts. With so many options, it can seem overwhelming to know which path to take. Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out what type of ad is best suited for your needs and showed you some great examples of podcast advertising in action!

The best way to convince advertisers to sponsor your podcast is to demonstrate that you have a large audience. That’s why publishing your podcast on as many platforms as possible is so important. 

Through Zencast’s Podcast Syndication tool, you can automatically publish your podcast on multiple platforms within a few clicks! 

Our sophisticated analytics tools mean you can track your progress as you go along. You can even integrate them into Google Analytics — meaning you can show them off to possible sponsors with incredible ease.

With us, you can get rid of the hassle of having to publish your podcast. We’ll even create an RSS feed and a website for your podcast!

Sign up to ZenCast today for all of your podcasting needs!

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