Think back to some of the most memorable ad campaigns of the past 20 years. What comes to mind? Maybe it’s “Got Milk?”, from the California Milk Processor Board, which ran from 1993 to 2014, and reportedly reached 90% awareness among American adults. Maybe it’s the more recent “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign by Apple, which showcased the spectacular photos of ordinary people. These efforts dramatically increased public awareness of their products — so much so that they became iconic cultural reference points.
Podcasts aren’t quite at the saturation level of, say, milk or iPhones (yet!). But as the industry grows and matures, it needs new ways to become part of the public conversation. What might it look like if publishers, networks, and creators were to join forces to develop a similarly catchy and widespread campaign, something arresting that couldn’t be ignored? What kind of awareness and interest could we generate?
The advertising of podcasts themselves is an emerging area that is currently small but steadily growing. Here are 9+ ways that organizations of all sizes are using advertising to grow awareness for their work.
— Steve Wilson (@StephenWilson) September 28, 2016
— Jesse Miller (@Penofdoom) December 18, 2016
That Raw Story piece had a promo for their Ed Schultz podcast. Schultz works for RT and participated in a CPAC presentation. pic.twitter.com/S8MFuOWEFv
— Adam Holland (@ad_holland) February 24, 2017
There are a couple of examples of billboard ads for podcasts. One for On She Goes, a podcast hosted by Aminatou Sow and produced by Pineapple Media, is in Times Square in Manhattan, and it is rad.
Another one is for the podcast Crimetown, from Gimlet — seen in Providence, the city that is the subject of the show.
Check out our new billboard outside Providence: pic.twitter.com/YZiFWP7iBU
— Crimetown (@crimetown) January 12, 2017
Audible bought out the entire Rockefeller Center subway station as part of the launch of Sincerely, X.
KQED/PRI advertised the show Truth Be Told on BART, the commuter system serving the Bay Area.
— Anne Wootton (@annewootton) October 1, 2016
Healthcare’s RX, a podcast from two physicians, took out advertising in the New York City subway system and on the side of Seattle buses.
Alex Moulton worked with New York Public Radio to design bus shelter ads for Radiolab Live: In the Dark.
(Side example: As part of a student project Michelle Turpin designed and mocked up advertising for Radiolab, on New York City bus shelters, on table cards, and on a small billboard.)
Promotion on social media is easy to pull together quickly, there are precise targeting options, and it works for a range of budgets — making it a great option for increasing awareness (and hopefully listenership) for not too much money.
— NMG Enterprises LLC. (@NoemiMediaGroup) May 16, 2017
This Instagram ad for a podcast is targeting me quite well. pic.twitter.com/yuy4Z97qp8
— Steve Wilson (@StephenWilson) May 9, 2017
— Coaching for Geeks (@lifecoachlond) June 6, 2017
Advertising on social media isn’t just for smaller outfits — earlier this year, Spotify advertised 2 Dope Queens on Facebook as part of an exclusive windowing deal with WNYC.
Publishing groups with both print and audio properties have the advantage of easily using ad space to cross-promote their own content.
Time magazine advertised the It’s Your Universe podcast in the print magazine (even if the user who tweeted it was unimpressed with the effort).
— Ari Sherbill (@AriSherbill) August 29, 2016
(For another example from Time, see Milka Grady’s work for their podcast, The Brief).
The New York Times has also used the print version of the paper to promote their extremely successful show The Daily (formerly The Run-Up).
— Kyle Starr (@_kylestarr) March 12, 2017
— Steve Wilson (@StephenWilson) February 7, 2017
Here’s a full page ad in the New York Times Magazine plugging its election podcast pic.twitter.com/OA3jGnAjiU
— Max Willens (@maxwillens) October 7, 2016
There is a whole category of more unusual platforms that are being used to advertise podcasts. Take a look.
— Nicholas Huba (@ACPressHuba) May 25, 2017
— Export Like a Boss (@exportlikeaboss) February 14, 2017
— JAWeinstein(J.Styne) (@JohnnyStyne) December 25, 2016
— Mike Cosimano (@MikeCosimano) August 15, 2016
Presented without comment.
— Weirdfellas (@Weirdfellas2) December 30, 2016
An ad in a print magazine to promote advertising on podcasts!
— Mathew Passy (@MathewPassy) September 26, 2016
According to Nick Quah of HotPod, New York City will be doing a “Made in New York” campaign for podcasts. (These ads, which appear throughout the subway and bus system, have covered film, music, and fashion in the past.) No further information yet, but we’ll be watching for when these are released.
Have other examples to share with us? Leave them in the comments or share them with us on Twitter.