Podcast Advertising Is Influencer Marketing.

We’ve got the scoop from Julie Zischke at Grove Collaborative.


Budget season is a stressful time for any marketer. It takes a lot of brainpower and negotiation skills. You have to come up with an improved plan from last year and include some exciting new ideas to keep the executive team engaged. You have heard about sponsoring podcasts and want to introduce the concept to your team, but you are not sure where to start. How does Podcast Advertising fit into a marketing strategy?


Well, the first step is to address the different levels in a marketing funnel and review how each one is driven by specific measurement tactics. The top of the funnel engages the potential customer, bringing about brand awareness. It also lets them discover the potential pain point they have and the possible solution. The middle of the funnel converts prospects into leads by providing value and further education on the solution needed to resolve their pain points. Finally, the bottom of the funnel is where the lead becomes a consumer and makes an informed purchase.

So, at which level does podcast advertising land? 

It’s harder to determine because podcasts perform aspects of all three levels. They bring about awareness through an organic ad read, they share knowledge and special offers, and they provide a host endorsement, driving conversions.

We were curious to hear how Grove Collaborative approached their marketing strategy, as they have a huge presence in podcast advertising as well as paid social. They began 2 years ago and have sponsored more than 52 podcasts, with over 188 ads.

Our Host of Marketing Success With Podcast Advertising, Heather Osgood, spent time with Julie Zischke, Head of Offline Acquisition at Grove Collaborative to learn where they place podcast advertising in their marketing strategy and why.

This is what she had to say.

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Podcast Advertising and Influencer Marketing Are Closely Linked

  • Julie views a marketing portfolio like a Pac Man pie chart. A large percentage goes to paid social like Facebook and Instagram, with a few smaller channels, trying to diversify away from those platforms so the company is not as reliant on those platforms to drive conversions.
  • As the company grows and reaches a maximum on paid social, it’s imperative to diversify to continue the growth. They are focussing on podcasts, radio, TV, and direct mail. The suite of offline channels in the Direct-To-Consumer space today. The definition of online versus offline feels antiquated for Julie, so she focuses on the levels of the marketing funnel instead. Each funnel is driven by different measurements.
  • Podcast metrics are harder to read, like the other offline channels so that is why it falls into this category.

Why Grove Collaborative Chose Podcast Advertising

Grove Collaborative uses Podcast Advertising like Influencer Marketing

  • They chose podcast advertising as a way to diversify their marketing spend from paid social and traditional influencer marketing.


  • Podcast advertising is a natural extension of the influencer strategy. It can be viewed as influencer marketing at scale. Brands collaborate with hosts to get product/service endorsements.
  • Organic testimonials and peer-to-peer marketing are really effective advertising tools. Podcast advertising felt like a natural extension of what was working online but just in a different medium. A safe place to experiment.
  • While the podcast ads may not be typical influencer ads, Grove was able to spill the success over into the medium and continue their growth.
  • There are so many shared learnings to be had between the two influencer marketing strategies. It’s important to have constant communication between the team that is running influencer marketing and the team running podcast advertising. A lot of the same talking points and campaign tactics can be shared across both channels.
  • There are a lot of similarities between host personality types and influencers that can work across both areas as the influencer landscape grows. Sometimes digital Influencers have their own podcast which is a very fruitful place to experiment.

How to approach podcast ad buying

  • Julie was involved in podcast advertising prior to joining Grove Collaborative. Her approach to ad buying is to learn by doing. She has done both agency and direct. Her preference is to work with an agency to help manage relationships and campaigns.
  • You need more manpower to focus on the direct podcast advertising. The work is high touch, as you are dealing with people. When you go direct, you see the best success when you give podcast hosts and their endorsements themselves some TLC. Making sure you take the time to have an onboarding call. Ensure it’s a personal experience as much as possible. This way they bring the brand to life and get the best ad reads.
    Always have a variety of different sized shows in your portfolio.
80% of the spend should be focussed on core, proven shows, that are usually the mid to smaller sized shows with a dedicated following. They continue to drive consistent performance.
  • Then, 20% of the portfolio should be “test” shows, varying in size. Generally, larger shows fall into this category until they prove themselves – the landscape has gotten crowded and expensive so Grove Collaborative is working to be more thoughtful about how they scale.
    The goal is to always have more shows in the rotation.

tactics to test podcasts

  • Julie follows a proven strategy for investigating a show, to confirm if it will be successful for them or not.
  • To begin, she reviews other advertisers who buy ads. She looks at how often they repeat their buys on a show. This is usually a good indicator of success. She also connects with other advertisers to hear feedback. The arena is still relatively small and information sharing between advertisers is pretty common.
  • The second step would be to review the show downloads. The main industry metric used is the number of downloads per episode. For Julie, this doesn’t feel fully accurate because a listener can download the episode, but not necessarily listen, or, they listen to it but haven’t downloaded it. However, it’s a good proxy to indicate the rough size of a show’s audience.
  • Grove Collaborative do a 3-month test. They purchase one, 60-sec midroll ad, on each show per month. One week on and 3 weeks off. You get a sense after 2 drops but, also see a long tail of people redeeming off the offer.
  • Tracking is done with a vanity URL. They track direct checkouts from there, as well as an optional post-checkout survey asking how the customer heard about the company. The URL is also used on the regular website to make sure organic traffic is not missed from people who haven’t used the vanity URL but heard about them from a podcast. There is about a 30% completion rate which is low right now but still provides a broad review.

final thoughts

Targeting is broad and wide. Companies targeting new customers and also reaching existing customers. It is always important to remember how ad exposure influences brand awareness.

The creative testing can be difficult with so many variables at once and the listener’s behavior is so different than other channels.

For new shows, use the creative that has worked across other shows to see if it pulls results and works for you. At the same time, take a small proxy proven shows and test a new creative or offer on those. The rest of the portfolio is running, business as usual.

Historically, podcast advertising has mostly focussed on DTC businesses, but the landscape is changing and as long as the host can genuinely connect with the product/service it would work.

Julie firmly believes in the quality of the channel and the kind of consumer it brings. She is encouraged by the influencer marketing strategy they have in place.

*** At the time of interview, Julie Zischke was the Director of Offline Marketing for Grove Collaborative, but has since moved to Hims & Hers.


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Updated from original article posted on 10/03/2019. 

Grove started as an idea between three friends talking in a spare bedroom in San Francisco: what if it was easy to find healthier home essentials? The belief that what we bring into our homes contributes to that homey, cozy feel prompted them to try to make their idea a reality. Welcome to Grove. We’re here to help you create your best version of home with ease and enjoyment. https://www.grove.co/home

True Native Media is an advertising agency that specializes in connecting brands with podcasters to develop engaging content hand-crafted for audiences around the globe. www.truenativemedia.com

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