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Are you looking for an advertising venue that puts your business right inside customers’ heads, one where you might be the only advertiser and get all the attention, and one that has a devoted fan base? Then consider sponsoring a podcast.

If you're not familiar with the concept, podcasts are essentially radio shows that users download online and listen to on their computers or mobile devices.

Some 57 million Americans listen to podcasts, and not only are they devoted to their favorite podcasts, they're also very open to advertiser messages.

Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of podcast listeners are more willing to consider products and services they hear about during a podcast, reports the IAB-Edison Research Podcast Advertising Study. Given equal price and quality, 60 percent of respondents would prefer to buy from the companies that advertise on their favorite podcasts. After hearing a podcast sponsor's message, the IAB says, 45 percent of listeners visit a sponsor's website and 37 percent gather more information about the company or product.

Podcast advertising is a little different than typical radio advertising. Instead of prerecorded messages, ads typically take the form of sponsorships. The podcast host will mention the sponsor and its products and services at the beginning of the podcast (pre-roll, generally 15 seconds long), in the middle of the podcast (mid-roll, generally 60 seconds long) and sometimes during the “outro” or end of the show. The mid-roll is often a testimonial of sorts where the host explains why he or she uses and likes the products or services.

Combined with the intimate nature of podcasting (people usually listen to podcasts through their headphones), this personal approach by the host makes podcast sponsorship a highly impactful form of advertising.

In addition, since many podcasts only have one sponsor per episode, your business can really stand out.

Podcast sponsorships are designed to drive action on the part of customers. They don't just mention your brand—they tell listeners how to become a customer (“Go to YourBusiness.com"), and incentivize them with a special offer for podcast listeners only (“Mention our show and get a 20 percent discount off your purchase”).

The field of podcast sponsorship is wide open for small businesses. In a study by FiveThirtyEight, big companies made up just 5 percent of podcast sponsors. With average costs around $18 per 1000 CPMs for the pre-roll and $25 per 1000 CPMs for the mid-roll, podcast sponsorship is quite affordable for the average small business. You can often get even lower prices by committing to, say, a three-month sponsorship.

Since a podcast’s audience isn't geographically limited, podcasts are a great advertising vehicle for web-based businesses such as ecommerce companies. They may be less effective for companies that rely on a local customer base. The FiveThirtyEight study says 87 percent of podcast sponsors are online businesses.

How do you find podcasts whose listeners fit your target customer profile?

You may have some ideas in mind—for example, if you sell children's clothing, a parenting-related podcast could be a natural fit. However, you can also get plenty of help from companies that sell podcast advertising. MidrollBlogTalkRadio, PodcastOne and Archer Avenue are just a few that can match you with the right podcast for your target audience.

With so many podcasts out there, podcasters are hungry for sponsors. If you're hungry for new customers, it could be a match made in heaven.

Need help developing your advertising and marketing plan? SCORE mentors can advise you for free. Visit www.score.org to find out more.

About the Author(s)

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and SmallBizDaily.com.

CEO, GrowBiz Media
listening to podcast