Making an audio commercial for a podcast

Advertising your business on a podcast is a great way to reach out to highly converting audience. In this post we teach you how to record your ad.
Aug 2, 2020 • 8 minute read
Edward Kost @EdwardKost
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for Making an audio commercial for a podcast

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Not sure how to record a podcast advertisement? Read this

Podcasts continue to grow in popularity, 1 in 3 people in the United States listen to at least one podcast a month so it makes sense to consider advertising on this medium.

In this post we'll teach you how to create a podcast ad and measure its performance.

Are podcast ads worth the investment?

It's getting harder and harder to market your business because consumers are getting desensitized to ads. They're everywhere now, speckled throughout Youtube videos, in your phone apps, and even in text messages!

Does that mean that podcast advertising has also lost its potency? Let's take a look at the numbers:

This data suggests that podcast advertising is not plateauing. Podcast advertising goldmine that many businesses are unaware of, so there's plenty of opportunity for you to make a lot of money!

So what makes podcast advertising different?

There are a couple of reasons. The first is that listeners are less likely to skip podcast ads because they don't want to accidentally skip through the podcast content. So they'll listen to all the ads in their entirety. This gives podcast advertisers more of an opportunity to convince their audience of the benefits of their offering.

The second and most powerful reason is that podcast hosts have a strong bond with their listeners.

The average podcast length is about 40 minutes. That length of time over multiple episodes is destined to establish trusting relationships over time. So any product or service a podcast host recommends is highly likely to be considered by their audience.

As a result, the most effective podcast ads are those delivered by the host in a casual conversational manner (more on that shortly).

“The people who listen to podcasts tend to be passionate and have an abiding attachment to what they listen to. The opportunity for brand awareness is tremendous.”

-Lain Shakespeare, MailChimp

Different types of podcast ads

There are two different categories of podcast ads, "baked in ads" and "dynamic ads"

Baked in ads are recorded in the master podcast file, so there's no way to add or change advertisers in a podcast.

Dynamic podcast ads are much more flexible. Podcast hosts can insert dynamic ads at any point in any podcast without having to manually cut and paste it into the master file. They can simply log into their podcast hosting service, select the specific point you want to insert the advertisement and submit the file.

This is a great option if you're open to working with new advertisers at any time.

Not all podcast hosting services have this feature, so if this is something you're interested in, make sure you choose a podcast host service with dynamic ad functionality.

When using dynamic ads make sure they fit the context of your podcast. For example, if your podcast has a laid back and relaxed vibe that's suddenly interrupted with an obnoxiously loud mid-roll ad, listeners will likely stop listening and never return, something the podcast host will not be very happy about.

So make sure you ask every podcast host you work with to specify their contextual guidelines.

Podcast ad spot positions

Podcast ads are typically placed in up to three different points within a podcast, the beginning, the middle or the end. The respective names of these ads are pre-roll, mid-roll and post roll ads

It's best to stick to this convention and include no more than three evenly spaced out ads in a single podcast to prevent a negative listener experience.

Podcast ad formats

There are two different formats of podcast ads:

Host read ads

This podcast ad format is the most simple and the most effective. It involves the host just talking about the ad in a natural manner. There's no need for any sound effects or background music.

This relaxed conversational delivery is the most effective because, to listeners, it feels like the host is sincerely sharing their insights about a product or service they truly believe in.

And because listeners have such a trusting relationship with their podcast hosts, and they understand that converting to the offer will support the host financially, they're likely to convert or at least seriously consider the offer to reciprocate their appreciation of the value they get out of the show.

Because this format of ad is the most effective and requires some effort on the hosts behalf, it is the most expensive.

Pre-produced ads

These can be ads produced by either the sponsor or the host. If they are produced by the sponsor, the advertiser creates the entire ad and then delivers it to the podcast host who then inserts it into the podcast as a dynamic ad.

If the podcast host has access to a production team, they can create and produce the ad on behalf of the advertiser. This added effort will, of course, come at a price.

How to create a podcast audio commercial

If you choose a "host read" ad format, there isn't much you need to do. Just supply your chosen podcast host with your script outline and they will record and deliver it for you.

You can find podcast advertising opportunities on Midroll, Podbean and Radiotail.

On Anchor.fm, via the Sponsorships feature, there is the opportunity to find a sponsor matching your show format and main topic. Using the platform recording section, you can record a custom ad and easily place it in your podcast. When the episode with the ad is published and the ad is heard through the platform, it will generate earnings directly into your linked account.

If you prefer to keep things linked to the bone, follow these steps:

Recording equipment.

Here are some tools you will need to ensure your audio commercial comes out crisp and clear every time.

If you're on a tight budget you can make a simple pop filter yourself with a plastic container and some stockings. 

Microphone

Most phone designs are optimized for video capturing and playback and not audio recording, so it's best to avoid using your phone microphone.

Here is a list of microphones that produce crystal clear high definition recordings. If you'll only be recording a handful of ads, it's probably not worth buying a microphone, renting one might be a much cheaper alternative.

Pop filter

A pop filter softens the harsh noises that disrupt the quality of audio recordings, such as "k" sounds and sudden bursts of air that accompany "p" sounds.

Audio Interface

For microphones featuring only the XLR output, an external audio interface will be required. For dynamic microphones, a simple boost of the gain will be enough, but for condenser types, you'll need to activate the 48v phantom, in order to allow the microphone to reach a healthy signal. The advantages of having an audio interface are:

  • Cleaner signal
  • More inputs (microphones) and output cues (headphones) for more guests
  • Generally better performing pre-amps, enhancing the microphone's signal.

Here are some models you could try:

Recording software

When your audio is recorded you will need to edit it and master it with specialized software.

Adobe Audition is the most common and most powerful podcast recording software. Here is a video teaching you how to use it.

Audacity is a free audio editing software. It's nowhere near as capable as Adobe Audition, but for a simple spoken recording it's good enough. To learn how to use Audacity, refer to the video below:

Garageband is a great freeware option for Apple users, allowing multitrack recordings, editing and post-production. It has an intuitive interface and easy-to-use plugins. Here’s a video walking you through the editing process: 

Pro Tools First is the free version of the music industry standard DAW, used in every studio to achieve professional recording and production. We'd recommend this to anyone interested in having a deeper experience in the audio field. Here’s an introduction to Pro Tools First:

It’s important to always record at the highest quality possible, using a lossless .wav/.aiff file format. A suggested setting is:

Bit-depth: 16bit (minimum), 24 (ideal)

Sample rate: 44.1kHz

When exporting your audio recording, make sure you use the following setting to ensure your exported file is of the highest quality (only at this stage is it suggested to use a lossy format):

Fomat: MP3

Bitrate: Fixed. 64Kbps, 96Kbps or 128kbps (ideal).

Sample rate: 44.1kHz

If you'll be using background music or sound effects in your podcast ad, Storyblocks and AudioJungle are great audio libraries you can use.

Writing a script for your audio commercial

It's always best to follow a script rather than just improvising on the spot. It will ensure your ad follows an actual structure designed to maximize conversions.

Writing a podcast ad script is not very different to writing sales copy, it's snappy, straight to the point and compelling. Aim for a script that produced a podcast ad between 15–60 seconds. Any longer and the patience of listeners will start getting tested.

If you struggle with writing sales copy you can outsource the script writing to freelancers.

Listen to different podcast ads to get a feel for the different styles. Some podcast ads include multiple actors to captivate listeners with drama, others are simply read by a voiceover with some background music.

Once you've chosen the style of audio ad you want to emulate and you're confident that it fits with the style of the intended podcast show, you're ready to start recording it.

Recording your podcast audio ad

Even though your ad will only be about 15–60 seconds long make sure you block out at least half a day to record and produce it, especially if it's your first time recording a podcast ad.

You need to account for the mispronunciations, giggles, multiple takes and then the arduous production process. When producing your podcast the primary objective is to eliminate all background noise and ensure your voice has a strong presence.

Using freelancers to create your podcast advertisement

If you plan to incorporate one or more characters in your advertisement, the best actors to source are freelancers. Freelance voice actors display their audio portfolios on their profile so you can listen to the delivery styles of each candidate before hiring them for your project.

If you wanted to, you could outsource the entire podcast advertisement project to freelancers. This is a great option for busy entrepreneurs that don't have the time to learn new software for only a handful of use cases. It will also save you from having to purchase any recording equipment or software.

Freelance writers could write your script for you.

Freelance voice actors could record your script for you.

And freelance producers could weave in all of your background music and sound effects and deliver a file ready for you to send to your podcast hosts.

If you're not sure of the exact talent you'll need to hire to create your compelling podcast ad, you can chat with a Technical Co-Pilot for guidance.

Final thoughts

Podcasts are a fantastic medium for you to advertise your business. The listeners are devoted and highly likely to convert. Follow these guidelines to get started on your podcast ad today!

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