Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
One of the biggest shifts in the amount of revenue that you can make from your podcast comes when you start to attract sponsors. From a financial perspective, a sponsorship offers 4-5 times greater revenue than pure advertising (through programmatic ad buys).
But landing a sponsor can be challenging.
In this blog, we will be unpicking the mysteries of sponsorship to ensure that you and your podcast can be as appealing as possible to brands.
What are sponsors looking for?
Sponsorship is a more expensive option for brands compared to buying ad space in a podcast. But it’s much more effective, and therefore worth the investment, if done well.
In order to achieve success, brands will look at your podcast and consider whether your show’s listeners align with their target audience. There are two key things they will be assessing: size and type.
So, let’s think about each of these in turn.
Audience size (volume)
As a general rule, sponsors will start considering your podcast when you reach 10k downloads per month. This is because they are wanting to ensure that they maximise the reach of their spend. It can help them raise brand awareness and even drive sales.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t attract sponsors if you are a smaller podcast. And this goes back to knowing who you are and who your audience is.
Two examples of this to make my point are…
Your podcast has a specialist subject
For example, your show many focus on menopause, parenting or cricket. Purely by having a very clear topic, and possibly a very loyal audience, you will be very attractive to sponsors who are looking to reach audiences either with these interests or at that life stage.
Your have a podcast that engages a specific audience
Gen Z would be a good example here. Traditionally, this audience watches or listens to zero linear advertising. Research by Bulbshare warns us that using traditional advertising is not a good move if you’re trying to engage Gen Z, as 99% of this age group are hitting ‘skip’ on every ad thrown at them and nearly two-thirds (63%) are using ad blockers. Combine this with the fact that Gen Z are reportedly watching less and less TV – with 29% not watching any at all – and one thing seems clear: Gen Z are difficult to reach through standard advertising channels. We must do so via their own content consumption instead – and luckily, Gen Z love podcasts. So, if you attract this audience, this will appeal to certain advertisers no matter how small your show is.
Another way to solve this is to become part of a network. For example, at Auddy, we group some of our podcast shows together to help define the audience – e.g. sports, business, parenting. Although an individual show may not be enough for a sponsor, grouping them together can allow the sponsor to really be attracted to these shows as they reach a total volume of audience reach.
A key thing to remember is that a sponsor is looking for a good ‘brand fit’. For example, if they are a premium product they will want to ensure that they are sponsoring a podcast which aligns with their brand’s values and tone. They may not be interested in a podcast that conflicts with their brand values, that expresses strong political views, or doesn’t adopt an inclusive/diverse tone throughout the show.
Of course, it works the other way around too. You and your podcast team need to be comfortable that your sponsor will be promoted on your show. Remember, a big sponsorship deal might seem like a podcasting dream come true, but if the brand has questionable morals, this could inevitably damage the reputation of your podcast, and the brand you’ve built around it, too.
31% of Gen Z claim they have stopped buying from a brand that’s part of a social cause they don’t align with, while 76% of Gen Z and millennials also find it important to buy from brands that celebrate diversity. So, when it comes to potential sponsors, make sure you’ve done your research and know what the brand stands for.
Once you have a sponsor on board that you’re happy with, you’ve got a great opportunity to deliver a fantastic campaign for them. And if things go well and they’re pleased with your efforts, they might just come back for more.
So, how do you get on a sponsor’s good side and keep them coming back?
How to create a fantastic sponsored host read
Put simply, the sponsor is looking for an authentic/genuine sponsorship of their product. They also want to feel as though they have got good value for money. For example, if you ONLY give them a 30 sec, monotone read about their product, they are probably not going to renew the deal.
Therefore, think about how you can transform the sponsorship into something which both sides can value.
Here are some things to consider:
- Firstly, get to know the product. If you have never used or experienced the product, it will be difficult to talk about it in a believable way. Ask for a sample ahead of the recording or visit a store if relevant.
- Ask for key pointers that they want you to cover and encourage these to be as simple and succinct as possible. If they give you loads and loads of points to get across, you will struggle to deliver them well.
- Be clear on what the mandatories are vs. the ‘nice to haves’. This will help you to keep it fresh.
- Don’t just read out what they have said. This will fall pretty flat on your audience. Have a think about the tone of your show and how you can incorporate this into your sponsored read. For example, think of little anecdotes which you can bring into it. Tell a story or use the banter between top hosts to have a laugh about your experiences with the product.
- Be brave here. Have some fun and take the time that you need to deliver it. Over delivering for the sponsor will never be an issue!
- Be true to the style of your show and your audience will love it. Remember, that’s why the sponsor chose your show in the first place!
Being clear to your audience
In order to ensure that you don’t trip up here, you need to be aware of the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
Put simply, it MUST be clear to your audience that this is a sponsored message. Announcing a clear ‘break’ between your show and the sponsored read allows this to happen but it doesn’t mean that you need to revert to old fashioned ‘And now it’s time for an ad break’. Instead, use music to signal a change, refer to the brand as ‘your sponsor’ once during the sponsored read, or come up with a more creative way of doing things. The key outcome needs to be that your audience knows that it’s paid for in some way.
Even Stephen Bartlett, host of the chart-topping The Diary of a CEO podcast, fell foul of this recently when he failed to clearly signal his endorsement of Huel was also linked to his investment in the company.
Adding value beyond your sponsored read
In all honesty, there is no requirement for you to do this, but if you genuinely love the product or brand sponsoring you, there’s always more you can do for them. Perhaps you could post about the product on your social platforms. As long as you adhere to the ASA requirements mentioned above, this will be hugely appreciated by the sponsor and they are likely to take it into consideration when they go to renew!