David Raphael, president of Public Media Marketing, took the stage at the RAIN Digital Audio Advertising Summit in Chicago to share his knowledge of podcast advertising. “I think there’s a certain level of education we have to do across the board with podcasting,” he told moderator Brian Pollina of the United Stations Radio Network and the crowd at House of Blues.
He cited podcasting’s “intentional” and “active, participatory listening” as a potential boon for advertisers. Since listeners are seeking out and choosing shows, they are demonstrating interest in a topic or a host. But he said advertisers are still wanting to see independent third-party data as proof of concept.
Raphael advised podcasters and advertisers alike to think about their ads as fitting the tone or needs of their program. “There are things Ira Glass wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, say,” he said. So This American Life has a rather formal approach to its ad presentation. On the other side of the coin, Raphael talked about how comedian Joe Rogen works with ads on his show. He actually uses any product he talks about and decides which ones he will actually endorse. But Raphael cautioned that the highly irreverent sense of humor on Rogen’s program means that it won’t be a match for all clients. “You need to have creative that makes sense for the show,” he said.
And that can go so far as to be produced in-house. Raphael mentioned the new show S-Town from Serial Productions several times as an example over the course of his talk. First, the show made its pre-produced ads in-house so that they match the sound and identity of the program. Listening becomes a seamless experience, even between show and advertisement.
But he acknowledged that a show like S-Town could face challenges if it had been pitched at a traditional media company. The podcast took extensive preparatory work and research before it ever aired, and then trialled a binge-listening approach of releasing all the episodes at once rather than on a weekly or biweekly schedule. Mainstream media companies may be too risk-averse to try such innovations, and Raphael said that was a risk of “going corporate.”