Podcast Advertising Case Study Review

We breakdown a podcast ad campaign case study from a brand that came to us looking for help. We share opportunities for improvement and podcast advertising best practices.


Podcast advertising can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the industry. But, there are specific criteria marketers can implement to make a solid strategy even better. Today, we’ll break down a podcast advertising case study to help you understand the best practices for podcast advertising. 


Do you want to learn more about how to sponsor a podcast? Download our Quick-Start Guide to help you navigate this unique medium. 

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Let’s call the company from this case study Brand X. Brand X is about a year old, making it a relatively new company, and it’s in the health and fitness industry. Some important information about the brand are:


  • 60% of their consumers are male, and 40% are female. 
  • They ran a direct-response campaign with only host-read ads.

Brand X came to True Native Media because their current formula wasn’t working. They knew their brand could succeed with podcast advertising, but they needed some expert advice to tighten their strategy.


Now, it’s time to analyze the campaign to find the wins and the areas of opportunity.


Number of Podcasts

It can be tempting to try out podcast advertising with just one podcast, but Brand X knew this wasn’t a winning strategy. Instead, they opted to sponsor five podcasts in total, which is a solid number to work with when testing a campaign. 


Working with at least five podcasts is a recommended best practice because you can compare and contrast which shows performed well and which didn’t. Once you have this information, you can scale your campaign. 

Type of Ad Read

As we mentioned before, Brand X was only interested in host-read ads. Since they’re a newer company with limited brand reach, utilizing the hosts as influencers was a great move. Not only does this help with conversions, but it will also spark more brand awareness and brand recall. 


This was one of the strongest choices they made for this campaign. 

Podcast Demographics

Looking at the podcasts they chose to sponsor, there was room for improvement.


The shows that they selected were predominantly male-based, so the audiences of the shows they were advertising on were primarily male. Now, given the fact that 60% of their audience is male, it made sense to go in that direction. However, when we looked at their website visitor demographic, more women visited the site, but men were the ones converting. 


This tells us that their messaging is not resonating with women and needs to be reviewed. 


Given this information, our recommendations for their next podcast advertising campaign are: 


  1. Split-test the campaign to include shows with female demographics and mix up the messaging. 
  2. Provide two creatives and landing pages geared towards the different segments and share them with the respective podcasts. 

Podcast Hosts 

Brand X chose podcasts based on preexisting relationships, which meant that, in some ways, they were advertising with friends. 


Overall, the numbers Brand X went for were impressive. Brand X chose shows with between 75k and 130k downloads per episode within a 30-day period – which is definitely on the higher end of medium-sized shows. 


Most companies will start small and work their way up, but Brand X went straight for the big shows.


Brand X chose to do four embedded ads on each podcast over dynamic ads. Embedded ads are stitched directly into the episode and remain there for at least 120 days, whereas dynamic ads are digitally inserted into the episode for 30-45 days and then removed. These ads can also be inserted across the entire catalog of episodes, not just a single episode like embedded ads. 


In total, Brand X picked five shows and ran four embedded ad reads on each podcast. These ads reached around 75k to 130k downloads per episode. 


Based on industry standards, we can assume Brand X spent around $60,000 on their campaign, but the return they received was minimal. 


Of course, this is highly discouraging. Brand X was looking for a direct response, and this knocked the wind out of their sails. 


Now, let’s unpack and extract what it is that they created and brainstorm how they can approach a campaign like this slightly differently. 

Here are a couple of wins:


  • Brand X got a return on spend from one of the podcasts. We consider this a win because Brand X is still an unknown company, and they only placed four ads on this show. Listeners weren’t familiar with the brand, so it takes time to build trust. 
  • Brand awareness for Brand X got a boost, which is helpful for the next campaign they run to drive brand recall. 
  • Their 20% off call-to-action was higher than most, and we consider this a solid offer. 

Now, these are some tactics we’d use to improve results:


  • We recommend sticking with the podcast that performed well. It would also be smart to find similar podcasts, as well as diversify the shows based on the demographics we mentioned earlier. 
  • If Brand X wanted to stick with embedded ads, we would recommend increasing the frequency by running two ads per month for the next three months. 
  • Brand X should also consider adding dynamic ads into the mix. These allow for a much higher frequency and repeat ad delivery for the same listeners. 
  • As much as we applauded Brand X for choosing shows with large numbers, it might have been more beneficial for them to choose smaller shows. In this instance, it’s important to review the average dollar sale of the product that Brand X is selling and compare it to their investment. If you have a $100 sale and a $60,000 spend, you’ll have to sell a lot to recoup the investment. Smaller shows, around 10k-50k downloads, cost less but still move the needle. 


Finally, it’s time to talk about the ad-read. 


In our conversation, Brand X mentioned that a couple of shows really missed the mark when understanding their product. If your product is relatively new, it’s vital that the brand gives the host a good breakdown. This means sending the hosts a sample to try and facilitate a follow-up conversation to make sure the host has a solid understanding. It also means giving the host clear talking points so they know exactly what points to hit on. 


It’s possible that since Brand X recruited friends to advertise with, this impacted the ad-reads. Additionally, the hosts (aside from the one that got results) did not create an ad with personal experience – they simply read the talking points. Personal experience makes a massive impact on conversions. You can have all your campaign ducks in a row, but you’ll still be wasting your budget if your ad is lackluster. 

If you are interested in buying podcast ads but have no idea where to start, read this article, Podcast Advertising Best Practices Every Marketer Should Know, and contact us at truenativemedia.com.


Ready to learn more? Subscribe to the Podcast Advertising Playbook so you never miss a new episode.


Connect with us on social media for more podcast advertising tips.


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LinkedIn – Heather Osgood | True Native Media | Podcast Advertising Playbook

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