Eight in ten podcasters say growing their audience is their number one problem, and with more than four million shows now in existence the challenge grows only bigger. New analysis from Chartable is offering insights into how some tactics perform when promoting a series, including the best position in a podcast to run a promo for another show.
One of the most-asked questions has been which ad placement works best when promoting a podcast, and Chartable founder Dave Zahrob says the new data allows them to finally answer the question. It shows pre-rolls do the best job converting promos into listeners. Pre-rolls perform 2.4-times better than post-roll ads. Mid-roll ads also do well, performing at twice the rate of post-roll. Zahrob says the conversion for promos mirrors what sister company Podsights has seen for brand advertising.
“Pre-roll tends to get a wrap in podcasting as being less valuable than mid-rolls, but it works really well for podcast promos and brands as well,” Zahrob said during a presentation Wednesday at Podcast Movement in Dallas.
But Zahrob said there is an “even better option” than promos open to podcasters looking to grow their audience. He said trailer drops or feed drops – the placement of an episode into the feed of a different show – are the “beach front property.” Chartable data shows feed drops do a seven-times better job at converting listeners than post-roll promos.
“This is a super-powerful tool. This works both if you’re a podcast network and you have multiple shows to cross-promote. It also works cross-networks,” he said.
Beyond just where the promo turns up, Pushkin Industries Director of Audience Development Eric Sandler said they have looked at the length of promos for shows they produce and discovered that 30-second promos outperform 60-second promos. “Making punchy, good content sometimes works better,” he said.
Yet placing an ad does not always bring an immediate lift in download numbers, according to Chartable’s analysis. Roughly 40% of people who click an ad for a podcast will download it within the first hour, and two-thirds of the downloads come within a day.
Zahrob said that podcast ads typically do not have as quick of a response as ads for things like an app or website. He said promotional ads also require some patience.
“If you did a promo for your show for the first time on another show, we see 10% of downloads within the first day. You get two-thirds within the first week. And you’ll get 95% of your downloads within the first 30 days” he said. “So the turnaround time on seeing the return in your investment in cross-promo is a lot longer than you might expect.
Remarketing Pixels Help Social Media Ads
Not all podcasters have the financial resources to buy promo ads. But Zahrob says social media remains a powerful tool. “Facebook and Instagram by far have been driving the most downloads,” he said.
Using remarketing pixels helps put a finer point on social media strategies. The pixels measure someone who clicks a social media link to a podcast and then serves up an ad to them in another context. That could mean, for instance, someone who clicked through to hear a podcast would then see a show’s art appear in their Facebook or Instagram feed.
“The platforms that support remarketing pixels can be super-powerful and what we’ve seen is when folks put real dollars behind it, and optimize their campaign is conversion rates of up to 50% from clicking a link to downloading a podcast,” Zahrob said. “It shows with a little bit of work, optimizing campaigns targeting the audience you already have can really get some mileage out of social ads.”
Sandler said “video bonuses” can also be created to help drive potential listeners to discover a new series. “We’re bringing our platform to YouTube,” he said. But not all shows will offer a video version. Some podcasts, such as Pushkin cofounder Malcom Gladwell’s Revisionist History, will simply post teaser videos of an episode.
“It doesn’t always have to be a full episode that you’re putting out at the same time as the audio. I think there’s a lot of benefit to people engaging two- or three-minute clips as well as the full episode. That will just bring more fans,” Sandler said.