A Marketers Rollercoaster Journey With Podcast Sponsorship

As marketers, we know that it is becoming increasingly challenging to reach consumers with ads, but podcasts are an incredible medium to connect to consumers with strong purchase intent.

For some companies, creating a successful podcast sponsorship campaign has been a challenge. After buying podcast ads, the campaign is pulled after two or three ad reads, and the door closed, never to return. They chalk it up to the medium not having enough influence, or the podcast topic not aligning with their brand.

First-time podcast advertisers might see limited traffic to their ad-tracking landing page, and may not get a spike in sales the first time their podcast ads run.


Download our Marketers Guide To Podcast Advertising to help you navigate the best way to create and run podcast advertising campaigns.  

Marketers Guide to Podcast Advertising Best Practices
Marketers Guide To Podcast Advertising

Many digital marketers compare podcast sponsorship to other forms of advertising such as social ads or google ads and they stop their podcast ad campaigns before they have a chance to show their potential. We all recognize that podcast advertising is a unique medium and must, therefore, be treated accordingly.  This is exactly what Rebekah Bek, UX Writer (previously Marketing Manager) for Ahrefs did. 


On an episode of The Podcast Advertising Playbook, Bek shares with us it was challenging to express the intricacies of their complicated business to an audience through traditional social media advertising. Podcast advertising has become instrumental in sharing their unique selling proposition and creating brand awareness. 


However, that is not how the story began. Let’s dive in and see how she managed to turn nominal results into their best results with a little creativity.

Tim Soulo, Chief Marketing Officer, made his first attempt at podcast advertising with basic knowledge. The campaign yielded a small monetary ROI; however, he began to get brand recognition at conferences that directly resulted from the consumers listening to podcasts.  

For a company with a complicated tool, this was groundbreaking. Armed with this knowledge, he passed the project to Rebekah and told her to scale it. She quickly realized that without prior experience, she would need to experiment. This is what she did.


Ahrefs goal was to gain brand recognition first, then to sell their service. With this focus in mind, Rebekah began to strategize. 

  • She listened to podcasts to understand what the appeal was and why it is so effective for advertising. She realized that the audience listens because they enjoy the host, and they value their opinion. This means that word of mouth is a strong advertising tool.
  • She surveyed their consumers to find out where they heard about Ahrefs and filtered the results for podcasts. Funneling further to find the specific shows that were yielding referrals.


After contacting her shortlist, she determined that there was no inventory available. This was her first big challenge. She had the money to buy ad space, but there was none. 


This is where working with an agency comes in handy, as they liaise with the host on your behalf. Essentially doing all the leg work for you.


  • Rebekah got creative. She reached out to her followers on other social media platforms to find out what podcasts they were listening to and built her portfolio from that. 
  • She immediately began reaching out and, again, found that some were booked, and others didn’t take sponsorship. Even though it was challenging to begin with, she has built relationships with the shows and booked very far in advance, securing her spots. 


  • The next step was to negotiate rates. Rates are usually based on download statistics. However, there is no set standard, so each podcast decides its own value.  When you work with a podcast advertising agency, the rates are more stable.
  • Understanding downloads came next. Rebekah felt that the numbers were not solid metrics to measure as they are too easy to gain. She focused on other KPI’s to decide which podcast to advertise with. Fan engagement through other social media platforms is what she used, e.g., comments or likes on Facebook, Reddit threads, and Twitter.
  • She also found that she got a sense of the host and the audience type through fan engagement. This helped when developing the content for the ad read. 
  • They started with providing canned reads, but after doing a few rounds with different shows, they allowed the host to share the brand more natively. The idea was to get the host on board, and then they sell it to their audience. 
  • ¾ of their hosts are currently using their product, which holds so much power in delivering podcast ads and reaching their listeners. 
  • At first, Ahrefs offered a promo code, but that was not effective. Now Rebekah is doing giveaways through Twitter. The host is excited to have a giveaway for their audience, and then it tracks directly back to the show. The giveaway is set up so that the listener tags Ahrefs and the host in a creative response explaining why they should win. It is extra advertising for Ahrefs, and they connect with more people. The podcast periodically interviews the winner, which is the best testimonial and more advertising for the brand. 


  • Podcast sponsorship on midsize shows have been the most successful as they have more of an intimate connection with their audience. There is also a greater creative opportunity with them. A deeper partnership that generates the most ROI. 
  • Advertisers have to put effort and creativity into the campaign. This is an organic medium with little structure. If you treat it as such, you will yield the best results.
  • Podcast sponsorship is customizable for any budget. Working with an agency helps to build your portfolio of various show sizes. They also have the inside track on rates and inventory. 
  • You have the flexibility to swap out ads that keep it fresh. 
  • Podcast Advertising Agencies are very useful and have tons of resources to help you. It is time-saving and a good guide for beginners. 
  • It has been a good investment of time and worth the money spent. 

Get five insider tips about podcast advertising to take to your next marketing meeting (and look like a pro). Plus, a list of objections with answers that will impress your CMO.

True Native Media is a podcast representation and advertising agency that specializes in connecting brands with podcasters to develop engaging content hand-crafted for audiences around the globe. LEARN MORE.

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