Finding Advertizers & Monetizing Your Podcasts

Podcasts, in the last 2 years or so, have gained momentum. Edison Research estimates that 67% of US population listens to podcasts every month. While audience growth is growing steadily, the advertising revenue of podcasts has been growing exponentially.

A market that was completely unheard of then now generates an advertising revenue of about $314 million – a rise of 86% YoY. If it continues at the same rate, by 2020, the figure will touch the $1 billion mark. This speaks volumes about how much money is rolling in the podcasting industry. 2018 might be the breakout year for podcasting and will bring new monetization models.

Like any other creative medium, monetizing the podcast cannot be done overnight but once the content mix is set, monetizing is fairly easy. In this blog, we will suggest some methods to get advertisers and sponsors for your podcast.

1. Direct response ADS

This is the easiest method for monetizing your podcast and almost 64% of all ads are direct response ads.

Direct response ads are ads where the host will read out the ad and give a unique link or a promo code at the end. That way, advertisers can use the unique promo code track the results of their ad campaigns.

Once you have a proper audience base (usually > 2000) who listens to your podcasts regularly, you can contact different brands and companies to sell ad space within your podcast. The key here is to understand your audience niche and then approach companies that would love to reach out to that niche. e.g If your podcast is around parenting, your audience would love to hear from a baby monitoring camera company like CacoonCam but not from a website building company.

Sometimes if your niche is very lucrative, the sponsors might themselves contact you. You can explore podcast advertising networks like Midroll to kickstart your direct response ads sponsorship.

2. Dynamic Ads

Dynamic ads are the ones that you see on YouTube before the video starts playing. Based on the content of the video or the viewer’s preferences, YouTube automatically selects and plays the ad. Unlike direct response ads, where you have to manage the entire process of finding sponsors, managing payment etc, here the network (in this case Youtube) manages the sponsorship process for you and takes a cut of the revenue.

A number of audio networks are now working on the same service for podcasts, led by Spotify, and Pandora. They will analyze the content of the podcast and then decide which ads to serve before the episode begins. The risk here is you have no control over which ads are played and maybe a big turn-off for your audience. The benefit is hassle-free monetization - so there’s a tradeoff that requires some thought.

3. Creating a membership site with content from podcasts

When you have guests come on to your podcasts, they discuss tips, ideas etc that can be repurposed into unique content. The episodes are always free to hear but the transcript can be available only to members who pay a small subscription every month on your site.

As the amount of content you have grows, the content in episodes can be repurposed into e-books, long-form blogs or even courses that your audience would love to pay for. All you have to do is curate it and arrange it in a digestible format that people can easily consume where ever they are. You already have the audience, you just have to increase the average revenue per listener.

This is likely the future of podcast monetization – a subscription-based direct relationship with the audience. This is a primary motivation for building Spext – to repurpose amazing content in media for creative dissemination.

4. Build an email list

Building an email list is one of the best things that beginner podcasters can do right from the get-go. It is always advisable to get more and more of your audience into signing up for your podcasts so that you have an active mailing list. When you have made some name for yourself, you can use this mailing list for different purposes.

For example, let’s say you have decided to join hands with e-commerce sites for affiliate marketing. For each sale that is done through your link, you will get a fixed commission (generally varies between 8-15%, depending on the product category and value). You can send along these links using your mailing list. You can even send your product details or your latest offerings to your regular audiences using the mailing list.

Another great way for monetization is publishing an email newsletter. People are busy and may not always have the time to visit your website or hear your podcast. Send them some news, insights or guest quotes in a beautifully designed email newsletter once every week. Measure the click and open rates. You can insert relevant ads in this newsletter or even make this a paid feature.

The benefit here is you are curating information for your audience and saving them time. Plus, you are sending it to them in a medium that they access all the time - email People may be ready to pay $2-$9/ month if the curation and content are really good. Look at the success of companies like theSkimm- they started as an email newsletter and are now building a media company. There are a host of other things that can be done with an active mailing list, hence it is extremely important that you build one and start keeping track of your audience if you want to succeed in the long run.

5. Survey your audience and create a product that they like

Now this is a wacky idea and may not be suitable for everyone, but once your audience enters the 5 digit zone, you can try this method. You now have a sizeable audience that is quite a niche. Bring out the hidden entrepreneur in you, and send your customers a survey to know which category or types of products they like.

Suppose your podcast is about home decor and 5,000 people reply to your survey indicating an interest in miniatures. You can then search for the miniatures, curate a list and start recommending them to your audience. Going a step further, you can reach out to local entrepreneurs/ designers who make such miniatures and see if you can be their marketing partner. Since you already know what they like and what they don’t, you will be a great asset for your partner and it will be much easier for you to get the sales rolling.

This is the method which is followed by - many successful podcasters, like Tim Ferriss, and you can see some of them have gone on to become millionaires in a relatively short period of time.

Be relentless, and the monetization will follow

Like any other media, monetizing podcasts is a tough challenge. The important thing is to be relentless with your podcasting. Keep pushing quality content out, build an audience and then, monetization avenues will open up. Have faith, think creatively, and keep experimenting with your audience to spot monetization opportunities.

Anup Gosavi

Anup Gosavi

Co-founder, Spext

Co-founder, Spext