Advertising: Helping or Hurting Podcasting?

Congratulations podcasting… you have graduated to a place where you can have too much advertising. As we all move forward making podcasting more popular than ever, and making more money than ever, let’s pump the brakes a bit and listen to what is going on with ads.

Take a look at another digital outlet. Have you noticed what is happening to the mobile web? When I’m surfing the mobile web these days, if I click on a link there will often be lag time for the content to show up. First, the display ads appear. Then the article loads and I start reading. Sometimes after I start scrolling it jumps to the top again as more display ads load and I have to start reading again. Then, just as I start scrolling I get a pop-up that says “Do you want to open in our app?” I click “no” and go back to reading. Then I get “This site wants to know your location” and I click no. Sound familiar? I’m starting to close those pages and move on because the experience is so bad.

Similarly, I have a friend that has been complaining to me about how the host read ads in podcasts are getting longer and longer. And there are more of them. We don’t just have pre-roll ads anymore, there are mid-roll ads placed throughout podcasts today, and he’s right the host reads are rambling.

Don’t get me wrong, ads in podcasts are great… that’s what is helping people make money and I’m all for that. But even in my own podcast listening, my habits are changing.

Tyler Moody

I use Downcast to listen to podcasts. When I open up Slate’s Gabfest I immediately hit the fast forward 2 minutes button twice to get past all the intro language and live show promotion. If my phone is handy when the live reads come on, I hit the fast forward 30 seconds button a couple of times.

I’ve also noticed my Downcast app has a feature that allows me to set the start time of a podcast. To me that means the makers of Downcast have either noticed themselves or have heard from listeners, that people don’t start all their podcasts at the beginning. They are skipping over ads, and Downcast is helping them make it easier.

On many TV VOD platforms you can’t skip over ads in the first three days after it airs. “Fast Forwarding may be disabled” my TV screen says. That doesn’t apply to my podcasts.

People have complained for a long time that radio has too many commercials. And for me all the host read ads during radio breaks are getting annoying. The same guy that gives me sports talk entertainment also tells me what truck to buy, what realtor to use, what tree service to use, alarm monitoring company, jeweler and cable TV. Really? The host pitch certainly loses a little authenticity that way, don’t you think?

Advertising in audio podcasts is a PREMIUM space to be in. You get a fully engaged audience that is very loyal to their favorite programs. Podcasters need to be careful going after the big dollars that are coming to podcasting, and be sure to protect the user experience and therefore the premium ad space. Bloating your podcast with long host reads, or too many ads could ruin the very value that is so attractive to advertisers to begin with.

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