Podcasts stand out among other media for all the marketing possibilities available to brands.
The same low barrier to entry for podcast creators also opens the door to a whole world of ways brands can tap into the deep engagement of podcasts. The opportunities stretch well beyond the traditional 30-second or 60-second ads.
The other good news is they can all be measured.
A well known content marketing option for brands is to produce their own original podcast — a branded podcast.
A few brands generate the kind of passion that lends itself to a podcast that’s about the brand. Sounds Profitable points to this potential in their latest research report, The Power of Brands in Podcasts — 41% of American adults say they would be likely to listen to a podcast about a favorite brand or product. Inside Trader Joe’s is a popular example of a podcast that delivers on exactly that, offering insider insights to its huge legion of passionate fans.
Not all brands have the committed fanbase of a Trader Joe’s. For these other brands, the sweet spot is finding the intersection between a brand’s purpose or its brand values and the content interests of its target market. The long-running podcast, Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson from Dell Technologies with production agency Pacific Content, is a classic case in point. Telling stories behind the world’s biggest digital disruptions, the podcast appeals to senior executives looking to manage change within their firm or organization — offering Dell Technologies an opportunity to build deep brand associations and engagement with their core target.
As successful as they can be, original podcasts by brands are nonetheless a significant undertaking, requiring creative bravery, a commitment to high-quality content and marketing to build an engaged and loyal audience.
Brands also have an opportunity to hitch a ride with popular podcasts that deliver a ready-made audience for custom content.
Podcast publishers will work with brands to develop custom content that fit hand-in-glove with their top podcasts, applying many of the same principles used in original podcasts by brands.
Among the most common types of custom content offered by publishers:
- Custom brand segments piggybacked into episodes of compatible podcasts
- Branded episodes, bonus episodes featuring brand content and/or 100% share of voice
- Mini-series tailored to the brand, launched in the feed drop of popular podcasts
Customized variations of each of the above are limited only by the collective creativity of the brand and the podcast publisher.
Measuring the Success of Content Marketing in Podcasting
Conventional ad effectiveness approaches fall short when it comes to measuring branded podcasts and other custom content for podcasts. Why? Because good branded content for podcasts isn’t an ad – it’s content, and that requires a different approach. It’s a lesson we’ve learned from conducting dozens of branded content studies for podcasts.
As soon as a brand steps outside the standard 30 or 60 second ad format, it has to earn the podcast listener’s attention. It has to be seen as delivering value to the listener. You can’t expect anyone to stay engaged through a 5-minute custom content segment or a 30-minute branded podcast episode that sounds like an informercial. It doesn’t — well — measure up.
The fundamental measure of success for branded podcast content is knowing that the content appeals to the listener. Did they like it? Did it hold their attention? Was the podcast relevant? Did it tell them something new? Would they tell their family or friends about what they heard? Does it beat the benchmarks from other branded podcast content?
Of course, it’s still important to show that the content is delivering brand lift. Is it increasing awareness? Favorability? Consideration? Is it helping to move the needle on those associations and perceptions that best represent the brand mission?
Finally, you want to see how the branded content is performing at that data point where appeal connects with brand favorability. To what extent is the branded podcast content providing the kind of value that makes listeners feel more favorable with the brand? In essence, we’re measuring the halo effect of providing your target market with the gift of great content.
Study design depends on the size and nature of the branded content. Typically, we use a controlled exposure brand lift approach, but customized for longer content. We recruit podcast listeners interested in the genre, and have them listen to it, followed by a survey that gauges their opinion of what they heard, along with brand measures. To get lift we compare those results with listeners unexposed to branding.
In fact, there are as many ways to measure content marketing for podcasts as there are ways for brands to venture outside the traditional 30 and 60 second ad box. It’s just a matter of taking that step towards the unique brand engagement possible with branded content for podcasts.