This weekend, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette). She announced her goal for the podcast- to be totally sponsorship free and community supported, which I thought was pretty cool. Right now, this model is in experimental stages, but I think it’s a great idea and seems to be a good direction for this particular podcast.
I’ve just started branching out in my Podcast world, and have been picking up on the different forms of sponsorships. My first thought was, “How exactly is this any different than advertising?” This is how I’ve come to understand it: paid sponsorships are to advertising what squares are to rectangles. Paid sponsorships are a type of advertisement, but not all advertisements are paid sponsorships.
Unlike radio advertisements or commercials, paid sponsorships are more of a partnership. Brands usually ally themselves with podcasts that have similar target audiences and interests. For instance, a podcast about fitness might be partnered with a granola bar company or outdoor apparel store. This way, the sponsor makes a smart investment (trying to reach people who are actually interested in their product) and the podcaster is making money/sharing potentially useful information with listeners.
Sponsored ads on podcasts tend to cause less of an interruption for listeners. According to EOFire, “The current “Industry Standard” podcast sponsorship is a combo 15-second Pre-Roll and a 60-second Mid-Roll.” The Pre-Roll is just the time before the podcast actually begins, and usually only happens for the first 15 seconds. The Mid-Roll ad happens during the middle of the podcast, is a little bit longer, and can have the podcaster’s unique artistic twist. For instance, one podcast I listen to does recaps of Bravo shows, and will often do their mid-roll ads imitating the Real Housewives. This freedom in delivery makes the listening experience a bit more fun. The podcaster also has some skin in the game, and aren’t going to botch an ad.
Sponsored ads work for a lot of podcasts, but many also take donations from listeners (like the podcast I mentioned at the beginning of this post). This usually happens through their website, or through crowdfunding sites such as Patreon. There are usually incentives for listener sponsorships, like access to bonus material, the ability to submit questions for interviewees or for the podcaster, and so on.
Personally, I don’t mind sponsored ads in podcasts (although admittedly I’ll fast-forward through them sometimes), especially if it means my favorite podcasts get to keep coming back on air every week. At the same time, I hope the ad-free podcast model proves successful- the great thing about the internet, and creating your own stuff in general, is that you get to call the shots.