Why Podcasts Are a Powerful Form of Native Advertising

Stephanie Sanderson_400x400

Director, Strategic Marketing


You don’t have to read much media news to see that marketers are in love with native advertising right now. But most people don’t talk about native advertising on podcasts. They should!

For the uninitiated, native advertising is marketing that closely matches the platform on which it appears. A classic example from the world of radio would be a regular traffic report brought to you by an auto dealer, but there are lots of examples in other media too.

Last month, CBS launched Play.it, our own podcast network, giving us a whole new way to deliver compelling and relevant content to audiences. Play.it also gives us the opportunity to explore new and innovative ways to marry programming and marketing. And I’m pretty stoked about it, since I’m an avid podcasting fan. If you haven’t yet thought about podcasting as a brand opportunity, here are some reasons why podcasts are remarkable native advertising tools.

Unprecedented creative opportunities

In a recent post on Contently, Celine Roque argues that podcasters have been thinking outside of the box when it comes to sponsored content: Mailchimp commissioned a rock opera, Square Space put out a sponsored song, and StartUp, a podcast about entrepreneurship, interviewed a sponsor about just how much bang for their buck they got from advertising with StartUp.

Though not a new medium, podcasting is relatively new for major advertisers. A major benefit? Most podcasters aren’t burdened with the tradition and standards of older mediums, or even larger operations. In short, they’re willing to experiment, and that’s good news for those with a creative streak. And because starting a podcast is relatively easy, there is lot of untapped talent for marketers to work with.

A highly-engaged, targeted audience (that’s growing)

Most podcasts aren’t seeing explosive audience growth, but they are seeing numbers increase consistently. As Roque notes, “39 million Americans listen to podcasts each month, and this number has been growing almost every year since 2008.” She also notes that many podcast listeners are “super-listeners” that consume nearly 2 hours daily. Additionally, podcasts consumes 25% of these users “share of ear.”

I might not quite make the cut for the “super-listener” segment, but I’m pretty close… And podcasting has my rapt attention during the time I’m least distracted by anything else – commuting on the train.

podcast graph

A better relationship

On terrestrial radio, countless studies have shown that most listeners feel their radio host is “like a friend,” who they would trust a product recommendation from.  There’s just something about the spoken word that builds relationships that stick with us. And a good podcast host is no different. It’s that relationship that printed sponsored content can’t beat.

Traditional ad spending is incredibly important, but it can be amplified. Native advertising on podcasts, like radio, is so effective because the audience is captivated and engaged. Above all, messages should be natural to maximize use of the medium and its audience. Why not lean into the host’s connection with her passionate fans by allowing flexibility in delivering the brand message?

So, when you’re thinking of going native, keep podcasting in the mix. You just might find exactly who you’re looking for.