direct response

Direct Response Marketing: Strategies, Examples, Costs & More

Introduction

Podcast sponsorships are a hot topic for up-and-coming and well-established brands alike. The industry itself is doing well over $1B in revenue and is expected to continue its rapid growth.

You could say, “money talks.” literally.

Podcasts have been propelling brands into the spotlight like BetterHelp, Magic Spoon Cereal, Manscaped, and HelloFresh for a number of years and savvy brands are clueing into the potential.

However, advertising on podcasts has been a bit of a black box for many direct response marketers as the complexity of getting started and measuring success is a bit nuanced.

At ADOPTER Media, we’ve been the team behind the launch and scaling of dozens of Direct Response brands taking advantage of the emerging space. If you’re keen on getting that sweet, sweet ROAS, we’ll cover what podcast advertising is, how it fits in your marketing mix, how to get started, measure results, and scale as a direct response brand.

What is Podcast Advertising, and Why Does it Matter?

Truthfully, podcast ads aren't complicated in its essence. If you’re like the majority of North America, you’ve boarded the “I listen to podcasts” train and have no doubt heard brand endorsements on your favorite shows.

Simple put, it’s the process of securing an endorsed advertisement from the show to their audience. Similar to influencer marketing, you are leveraging the influence of the host to pitch your product or service to their audience–often leading to a lot of revenue for the brand.

Brands like BetterHelp and Manscaped have invested tens of millions into the space because they have found results… and you can too. Here’s how to get started.

How Do Podcast Ads Fit into Your Digital Marketing Stack?

Podcast ads are great for top-of-funnel awareness, middle-of-funnel education, and closing the deal on those bottom-of-funnel opportunities. That, and podcast ads can serve as great LTV drivers through natural retargeting.

Unfortunately, for a long time, podcast ads had been seen strictly as an “offline channel” for awareness due to limited opportunity for measurement.

If you’ve been using platforms like Google and Facebook Ads to grow your business, you’re likely familiar with tracking efforts like Coupon Codes, Vanity URLs/UTMs, and pixel-based attribution. All of these are available in the podcast world, but there’s a catch to some… more on that to come.

Direct response podcast ads imply asking listeners to directly respond to an ad. That typically entails buying a product, downloading an app, signing up for a service, etc.

The other form of advertising is brand awareness campaigns. These are geared towards a lot more established brands in retail and don’t necessarily do ecommerce. Learn more about brand awareness campaigns here.

Here’s an example of a direct response ad from Eight Sleep on the Lex Fridman Podcast

Eight Sleep

The brand includes a landing page attached to the URL: https://www.eightsleep.com/lex/ so that they can track visits and conversion rates, while also offering a coupon or deal when they purchase. Eight Sleep can use a page like this to measure conversion rates, create an affinity for the connection they have to the show and so on.

However, while all these steps have been put in place to track they all rely on one critical piece: the customer's recall. One big flaw in podcast advertising is that many listeners simply don’t click the URL or use the code, and modern pixel-based attribution doesn’t fill in all the gaps yet either. Hence the need to understand what I call: The Measurement Matrix.

The Measurement Matrix

There’s a wide variety of tools you can use to measure performance, and at a larger scale, certain tools become more impactful. Utilizing each tool in conjunction with the others allows you to get a full picture of performance so you can scale.

Coupon Code

As a direct response brand, this is your bread and butter for tracking. Simply create a discount code unique to the show and have them include it in their Call to Action (CTA) at the end of the ad read. Coupon codes provide an incentive to take action immediately. And it’s a way to track influence back to the creator.

Keep codes simpler And in some cases create multiple codes for one show based on alternative spellings.

I.e. PODCAST, PODKAST, PODCASTE

URL/UTM

Along with your coupon codes, we recommend setting up unique URLs with UTM parameters for your shows. This will integrate with your Google Analytics and help to catch some missing data from customers who forget codes.

Here’s what this could look like:

www.example.com?utm_source=Podcast&utm_medium=Paid&utm_campaign=PodcastName

There are three primary elements to creating a UTM:

utm_source – This helps distinguish which marketing channel the traffic is coming from, i.e. Influencers, Podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
utm_medium – Helps you understand what type of traffic it is–whether it’s paid, affiliate, organic, referral, etc.
utm_campaign – Helps you track the specific podcast that resulted in the traffic.

Additionally, if you are a Shopify brand, we recommend adding “/discount/PODCASTNAME” to automatically apply the discount code.

Here’s how it would look:

www.example.com/discount/PODCASTNAME/?utm_source=Podcast&utm_medium=Paid&utm_campaign=PodcastName

Buuuuut, no podcast on earth is going to take the full 60 seconds to read out that URL so you need to create a redirect.

Head into Shopify, go to Online Store -> Navigation -> View URL REdirects -> Create URL Redirect and enter:

This way the host only has to say “Head to www.example.com/PODCASTNAME.”

url redirect

Post-Purchase Survey

Even though we’ve gone through all this effort to track link clicks and coupon codes, the likelihood is that you’re nowhere near tracking 100% of conversions. Across many of our clients, we encourage the use of a Post-Purchase Survey tool with a “How did you hear about us?” question.

post purchase survey

A lot of brands choose Enquire Labs as their app of choice. They’re highly favored in the DTC Direct Response world as a great go-to!

Lift Modifier

Across many of our clients, we’ve implemented lift studies and a modifier to more accurately measure the success of podcast advertising beyond just coupon code attribution. In many cases, that modifier comes out to 2-3x what the coupon attributed revenue is. We use a simple formula to provide an estimated lift using a post-purchase survey tool like Enquire Labs.

customer lift

This isn’t 100% bulletproof, but it’ll get you much closer to determining sales influence more directly comparable to your other marketing channels.

Pixel Based Attribution

Lastly, something podcast advertisers have begged for was pixel-based attribution. That’s where tools like Podsights come in.

Podsights, and other pixel-based attribution tools, have worked to develop a way to track sales that don’t use coupons or click links. Simply put, there’s a pixel installed in the RSS feed of the podcast and your site, and the tool is able to identify household IP addresses that both listened to the podcast and visited your site all the way to purchase.

This can be a great way to track the missing sales, but it only accurately applies to household IPs. Which still leaves a large gap in data. It can be an extra line of defense when measuring, but it won’t give you the full picture… yet.

Choosing the Right Shows

You may be thinking, “great, podcast advertising seems pretty straightforward with those measurement tools!” And, in that regard, you’re right. But, we’re now at the good stuff! Once you’re set up to support the channel the next step is finding shows and getting ads live and running.

To a degree, this is where the art comes in. If you have a background in influencer marketing, you probably have a good nose for influence. It’s the same in podcasting. Not all audiences are equal and you want to be where the influence is.

We recommend tools like Podscribe, ThoughtLeaders, and Magellan AI to find shows that have a high advertiser renewal rate and strong ad reads in your vertical.

As a new advertiser, don’t trailblaze. Find shows that have a proven track record. Get your footing, and then scale.

At ADOPTER Media, we leverage the data of over 100,000 ads placed on over 25,000 shows to scale leading Direct Response brands like Magic Spoon Cereal, FÜM, and Apostrophe. Find out if podcast advertising is right for your brand by getting a free audit!

Closing

Major DTC giants and Direct Response leaders are quickly taking advantage of this booming medium to grow their business, and perhaps you’re next. Podcast advertising can be a bit overwhelming when starting, but it’s immensely rewarding. Campaigns can carry results years after they initially run.

If you are doing over $1M in revenue a year via digital ad platforms like Facebook and Google, it might be time to start adding some podcast ads to your mix.

Adam X Fum Final
Adam McNeil

Podcast Advertising Simplified | VP, Marketing @ ADOPTER Media | Co-host @ Make Better Podcast | Former VP, Marketing @ Füm

Adam helps DTC brands scale through podcast advertising by creating armies of podcasters that keep your inventory levels low.

I'm the VP of Marketing for ADOPTER Media (Podcast Advertising Agency), co-host of the "Make Better" podcast, wannabe Alex Honold, and a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur.

Podcast Ads. YouTube Sponsorships. Real Results.

Our agency represents advertisers to plan, manage, and optimize their host-read ad campaigns at scale.
"ADOPTER Media has been a fantastic partner for us since the earliest days of Magic Spoon."

- Gabi Lewis, Co-Founder, Magic Spoon

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