How To Find Sponsors And Monetize Your Podcast
There’s a lot that goes into finding sponsors and monetizing your podcast. You’ve got to connect with brands, negotiate CPMs, and navigate the different types of podcast ads. It’s a daunting process, but I’m here to help.
In this article, I’m breaking down how to find sponsors so that you can monetize your podcast. I’m going to uncover the different types of podcast ads, industry-standard ad rates, ad splits, CPMs, and catching you up to speed on podcast advertising lingo. In addition, I’m also going to direct you to some podcast advertising agencies and marketplaces that you can use to monetize your podcast.
Grow Your Audience Before Trying To Find Sponsors
First things first, you need to invest in your podcast and increase your listenership. This means using a variety of marketing strategies, including, social media, building an email list, writing newsletters, publishing articles, leveraging video, and using paid ads. I’m a huge fan of writing long-form content and implementing paid ads to grow podcasts. It’s a strategy I’ve used to grow my podcast, Clipped.
Once you get your download numbers up you’ll have more leverage with sponsors. Brands are looking to advertise on sizable podcasts. They want to make sure that their investment will give them a return large enough to make it worth their time and energy.
That’s where you need to start. Before you even begin thinking about finding sponsors for your podcast you’ve got to get your numbers up. I hate to break it to you, but most podcast advertising agencies and online marketplaces won’t work with you until you have 10k – 20k downloads PER episode, in a 30-day period.
The Types of Podcast Ads
There are 3 main types of podcast ads. I’m covering these before I dive into sponsorships because I want you to understand your monetization options and be educated about podcast advertising.
- Host Read
- Baked In
Programmatic Ads are created and produced by outside agencies. They allow brands to create campaigns that connect more accurately and easily with target audiences. These ads get dynamically inserted into episodes. The buying and selling of these ads happens through automated processes in advertising marketplaces.
The easiest way to get started with programmatic ads is through podcast hosting platforms. It’s becoming more and more common for podcast hosts to also offer a programmatic advertising marketplace.
Here are some podcast hosts that offer programmatic ad insertion:
A host-read ad is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when the host reads an ad for a product or service. In this situation, the host will get sent a script. They’ll be asked to read the script verbatim or ad-lib and inject some personal experience about using the product or service they’re promoting.
Baked-in ad reads happen to live in the middle of the show. These ads are best for podcasts with a live feel that don’t do any editing or shows that live stream. It all happens on the fly and lives inside the audio file.
How To Find Sponsors And Monetize Your Podcast With Ad Agencies
You can always reach out to brands directly and pitch your podcast to them. I love that DIY hustle. But it’s also a great idea to connect with a podcast advertising agency. These agencies oversee the entire ad buying process, handle the negotiations, and act as your partner so that you can focus on content creation.
If you like the idea of partnering with an ad agency, here are a few to look into:
Midroll is one of the largest advertising agencies in the space. They were acquired by SiriusXM in 2020. Midroll works with some of the largest shows in podcasting, including, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, 2 Bears 1 Cave, Office Ladies, Pod Save America, On Purpose with Jay Shetty, The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes, and many more. But they also work with a lot of mid-level shows, so don’t let their roster intimidate you if you’re shopping for ad agencies.
True Native specializes in host-read ads for independent podcasters. They pride themselves on creating a personalized service for the podcasts on their roster, and for the brands that they work with. TN was founded in 2016 with the goal of helping podcasters grab a bigger piece of the advertising pie.
Ad Results Media works within Podcasting, Radio, YouTube, and Satellite Radio. They connect brands, listeners, and show hosts through media planning and ad campaign execution. They’ve got relationships with a plethora of brands in tons of niches. Some of the brands they work with include, BMW, Allbirds, Betterhelp, ZipRecruiter, and FanDuel.
PodcastOne is an ad-supported digital audio network. They focus on content creation, brand integration, and distribution. PodcastOne shows generate a whopping 2.1 billion downloads a year, across their 350 weekly episodes. They’ve also built out an app and website where people can access free content as well as paywalled content.
How To Find Sponsors and Monetize Your Podcast Through Online Marketplaces
Another way to find podcast sponsors and monetize your show is by joining an online marketplace. Online marketplaces for podcasters are different from full-service ad agencies. Ad agencies handle everything for you. Online marketplaces require a more hands-on approach.
When you join a marketplace you’re going to have to do all the work. You’ll create a profile, connect your analytics, set your CPMs, and then pitch a list of brand partners. However, some marketplaces are set up for brands to pitch you.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Online marketplaces do have support staff, but as a podcaster, you’ll manage everything through your accounts dashboard. You’ll be responsible for communicating with the brand, downloading your ad copy, producing a polished ad read, and running your ad on the correct dates.
Here are some online marketplaces for podcasters:
Advertisecast is an online marketplace that matches brands with podcasters. It’s an ad-buying and selling platform that acts as the intermediary between the two parties. They oversee the entire campaign process from start to finish. I’ve seen some great monetization opportunities on Advertisecast.
Advertisecast is owned by Libsyn.
Podcorn functions similarly to Advertisecast. But, in addition to host read ads, Podcorn has created additional ways for podcasters to connect with sponsors. These include product reviews, topical discussions, Q&A’s with employees of the brand, as well as the ability for the podcaster to suggest a creative way to integrate the brand into an episode.
Gumball connects brands with podcasters and boasts full transparency over every transaction, faster-than-average payments, and a fully customized dashboard to manage due dates, CPM’s, written copy, blackout dates and more.
Headgum owns Gumball.
Ok, so you’ve got the skinny on where to find podcast sponsors. Now I want to drop a little knowledge on how podcast ad locations work. Once your podcast is big enough to get into the ad game brands are going to purchase spots in different locations within your podcast.
There are three main places that ads go in podcasts. These are, the top of the show, the middle of the show, and the end of the show. Or, as they’re called in the industry, pre-rolls, mid-rolls, and post-rolls.
It’s important to note that more than one ad can go in each position. A large podcast that brands are chomping at the bit to advertise on could have 2x pre-rolls, 3 mid-rolls, and 1 post-roll. That’s 6 ads running throughout one episode.
As you can see, if you can build a big audience it can be quite lucrative to be a podcaster.
Podcast Ad Rates: Calculating CPMs
How much sponsors pay for an ad read depends on the size of your audience and the CPM that has been negotiated. CPM stands for “Cost Per Mille”. Apparently, “mille” is Latin for one thousand.
Strange terminology, right? It’s standard lingo in the industry, so I’m rolling with it.
An easier way to think of CPM is the cost per one thousand downloads.
CPMs can vary, but they usually hover around the $20 mark. If a brand buys an ad on your podcast for a CPM of $20, you’re going to get paid $20 per 1,000 downloads.
If your episode gets downloaded 50,000 times, you’re going to make $1,000 for that ad read.
- 50,000 divided by 1,000 = 50. A $20 CPM x50 = $1,000.
Say your ad is running across episodes that cumulatively get downloaded 20,000 times. You’ll make $400 from that ad read.
- 20,000 divided by 1,000 = 20. $20×20 =$400.
Are you still with me, or is your head spinning?
Pre-rolls and post-rolls garner a lower CPM. Midrolls are the money spot and typically cost more. The reason for this is because data suggests that people fast forward through ads at the beginning of episodes, and turn episodes off before the end. Thus, skipping the pre-roll and post-roll ad reads.
In almost every scenario the agency or the platform you’re working with to find sponsors is going to take a % of every sale.
I’ve seen 70/30 and 60/40 sponsorship splits during my time working in podcasting. The larger percentage always goes to the podcaster.
Keep these figures in mind when you’re working with an ad partner, if they’re trying to negotiate something way outside these lines, be wary. Sure, things can fluctuate, but 70/30 and 60/40 are really common.
Not feeling the splits? You could always approach brands directly and eliminate a middleman.
How Difficult Is It To Find Podcast Sponsors?
You need a significant amount of downloads before brands will be interested in sponsoring your show.
It’ll take 10k -20k downloads per episode, in a 30-day period, to open advertising conversations.
This is why I wrote an article on how to grow your podcast. You need to put a ton of work in on the front end and grow your show before your eyes fill up with money signs.
If you can get your downloads up into that range you’re going to get a lot of opportunities to make money from your podcast. Hell, you might even be able to become a full-time content creator.
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