Anna Ratala
Jul 23 · 3 min read

It’s confirmed: podcast listeners actually enjoy ads.

Many of us know this already from the available data that suggests as much as 75% of podcast listeners follow calls-to-action from podcast ads. 69% of listeners learn about new products and services from podcasts.*

But now it’s official.

The god of experiments himself, Tim Ferris (with reportedly over 400 million podcast downloads), told about going back to ad-supported podcasts after a trial with fan-supported donations. As much as listeners love the content, his conclusion was clear: people are not ready to pay for podcasts.

Not even for Tim Ferris. In fact, 72% of his listeners told they were not ready to donate him any money.

Moreover, many of Ferris’s listeners actually had a “strong preference for an ad-supported model compared to other options” and asked him to bring back the ads. Yes, they love the ads. To everyone who thinks ads will ruin the audio experience, you can relax now. They won’t.

Because here’s the thing: people don’t hate ads. They hate bad ads.

So how does one create the good ones, then? Here are two things you need to nail to have your listeners love the ads as much as Ferris’s listeners do: 1) make sure they are relevant, and 2) execute them well.

Content is king — but relevancy is queen

A great ad targeted at the wrong audience is a bad ad. But targeting can be a tricky game. If you’re hosting a podcast on entrepreneurship, it’s tempting to think about obvious partners, like Squarespace (bless them).

But even though I’m an entrepreneur there are about 57 things I’d need rather than a website. Because guess what, entrepreneurs are humans, too! (I know, shocker.)

I’d be happy to try out delicious drinks with new flavors or find out about a new, comfortable clothing line or try out a service that will make my life easier. My point is: go beyond the obvious.

If you’re a fashion podcast talking about slow fashion, how about working with a brand that’s targeting conscious consumers, instead of a fashion label? If you’re a finance podcast, how about working with a wine brand instead of a credit card company (because who has more disposable income or the need for wine than finance people?).

Tim Ferris’s fans love the ads and it’s not because they love being hard-sold on yet another credit card — it’s because the ads are relevant. Value-adding. Useful. It takes an effort but it pays back. Literally.

Execute like there’s no tomorrow

Brand alignment alone will, of course, not cut it. You have to execute. Inserting a pre-recorded jingle, no matter how well targeted, will fall flat in no time. Instead, creating an experience is something to aim for.

While most podcasting ads are host-read already, there’s a huge difference between reading a script and making an authentic recommendation. If you’ve managed to find a brand that has a great fit with your audience, you might as well put a little thought into great execution.

Be creative!

Working with an F&B brand can mean you enjoying their delicious sandwiches on the show. Recording a podcast in one of the meeting rooms of a hotel brand could be a great way to advertise without being an ad. Or simply tie the brand to yourself and your storyline — something Tim Ferris does extremely well, and it’s clearly working.

Bonus: cut the bulls*it

To wrap up, a little reminder: authenticity takes you a long way. People can see through an attempt to just make money. Nothing wrong with getting paid — but be prepared to give your authentic self and your honest recommendations in return.

And yeah, be like Tim Ferris — go out there and experiment!

Anna Ratala
CEO & Co-founder of
The first smart platform matching brands with audio storytellers

Sources used in the post:

* NPR & Nielsen 2018 Podcast Insights

Zvook Speaks

Where audio storytellers meet brand breakers. All things redefining podcasting and audio.

Anna Ratala

Written by

Zvook Speaks

Where audio storytellers meet brand breakers. All things redefining podcasting and audio.

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