Ads Come to Overcast With Latest Update

Overcast logoMonetizing podcasts isn’t always easy. And apparently, the same rule applies to podcast-consumption apps. That’s the ultimate truth Marco Arment, the developer of iOS podcasting app Overcast, has determined. In a lengthy blog post, Arment breaks down the monetization tactics he’s tried during Overcast’s first two years. And while those tactics did show momentary glimpses of hope, none of them seemed likely to work long term. That got Arment to consider some new monetization options:

Ads are the great compromise: money needs to come from somewhere, and the vast majority of people choose free-with-ads over direct payment. Ads need not be a bad thing: when implemented respectfully, all parties can get what they want.

Most podcasts played in Overcast are funded by ads for this reason, and as a podcaster and (occasional) blogger myself, I already make most of my income from ads.

Prior to this move, Arment had tried in-app subscriptions and a Patreon campaign to try and make Overcast a profitable endeavor. But those systems fell short of the mark. Arment is hopeful that running display ads inside of his app will prove to be more profitable in the long run. Overcast users who want to banish display ads and unlock all of Overcast’s features can also now buy a $9.99 subscription for one year.

IAB Releases Podcast Ad Metrics Guidelines

IAB logoThere’s been a lot of talk surrounding podcasting metrics lately. Some would say the state of measuring podcasts is a “Wild West” of varying methods with no centralized protocols. Others would say that they’ve had proven processes in place for years to accurately measure the audience of their podcasts. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has been working diligently to bridge the gap between these two mindsets. The organization made a big step forward earlier this week when it released its Podcast Ad Metrics Guidelines:

This document provides an introduction to tracking ad delivery in a podcast and attempts to provide clarity in the marketplace by describing common and existing practices. It breaks down some of the technical details of content and ad delivery and then defines the commonly used metrics, with some examples on how to measure those metrics. While we expect this document to be updated further as the market develops, we believe that this will help buyers, publishers, and the developers of technology by guiding them toward a common language.

The guidelines were released in the form of a downloadable 14-page PDF. A long list of contributing organizations, including ESPN, Midroll, LibSyn, Rawvoice, PodcastOne, NPR, and more, helped to finalize the rules set forth in the document. The guidelines contain much more information than we can cover in one blog post. But it’s definitely worth a read (especially the appendix section in the last few pages) if you’d like to know more about the technical aspects of podcast download measurement.

To see how some noteworthy representatives in the podcasting space reacted to the IAB document, check out this article from Radio Ink.

Blubrry Launches Priority Advertising Program

Blubrry logoPodcasters like to make money. And while there are different approaches to monetization, the good ol’ CPM-based ad campaign is one of the oldest and most venerable ways to bring cash to your ‘cast. Blubrry has been partnering potential sponsors with willing podcasters for over a decade. And the company has taken its advertising services to the next level with the launch of its Priority Advertising Program.

Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane elaborated on the new program thru a post on Facebook:

One big challenge we have had over the past year is that podcasters doing all the steps to be prepared for podcast advertising we require. Run Free Stats, Fill out a Advertising Application, optionally run demographic surveys and ask to be part of upcoming deals. Yet when the perfect advertiser is found they do not respond or turn deals down.
Or worse turn deals down when they said they were already on-board. To combat this and keep media buyers and us from going insane we have implemented what we are calling Blubrry Advertising Priority Partners.

This was elaborated on further with a post on the Blubrry website:

For Blubrry to compete in today’s podcast advertising world, we need to be able to move fast and implement campaigns with shows we know are ready and willing to run advertising as soon as possible. To do this, we need to create a strong and trustworthy relationship.

Here are some specifics of the Priority Advertising Program:

  • Campaigns will have a minimum CPM of $20 and/or an appropriate flat rate
  • Nearly all campaigns will be host-endorsed
  • Campaigns require sponsor mentions with trackable URL links in shownotes
  • On-site ad banners are optional, but they can add value to campaigns
  • Podcasts will be bundled with other shows as a package for advertisers and media buyers
  • Joining this Blubrry program doesn’t exclude podcasters from looking for advertising thru other sources

Learn more about the Priority Advertising Program and sign up here.

Disclosure: Blubrry CEO Todd Cochrane is Executive Editor of Podcaster News and I work part-time with the Blubrry support team.

AudioMate Brings Podcasters and Advertisers Together

AudioMate logoMuch time and energy is spent within the podcasting community on the subject of advertising. Many podcasters want to know where they can get it, and whether or not it’d be a good thing to pursue. The long-running story on podcast ads has always been, “Until you have X-thousand regular downloads per episodes, advertising platforms won’t even talk to you.” Albeit slowly, that mindset may be changing as new services are constantly popping up to try and bridge the gap between podcast producers and advertisers.

AudioMate is one such service. The company offers to bring content creators of all kinds together with potential advertisers. The AudioMate platform allows creators to offer available ad inventory. Then, ad buyers can bid on those ad spots:

Our front-end user friendly interface allows publishers in our network as much control over their inventory as possible. Through our client login portal, publishers can ban or approve any brand or buyer in the advertiser network, access revenue and reporting information, connect directly with a live client service representative, set and adjust pricing floors for their inventory, and view highly detailed information on the kinds of agencies and brands buying into their inventory and why.

AuidioMate also offers a “zero-touch” embeddable media player that publishers can use on their own websites to simplify the process of delivering AudioMate-enhanced content. It’s unclear if AudioMate’s ads appear only in this special player or if creators can also distribute their ad-enhanced shows thru other channels.

AudioMate states the service was developed “in concert with” heavy hitters like CBS, Apple, Microsoft, Univision, and Google, among others. Having these partners on board should provide good opportunities for AudioMate to work across many different platforms.

If you’d like to see what AudioMate can do for your podcast, you can sign up for free on the company’s website. Aims to ‘Streamline Podcast Sponsorship’ logoThe podcast advertising vertical is definitely in a growth period. Over the last couple years, more and more players have stepped into the space to try and make it easier for potential advertisers and podcasters to find each other. Of course, this process is nothing new. Services like Blubrry and Podtrac have been doing this since the early days of podcasting. But the recent surge of interest in the medium as an economic engine is drawing a lot of newcomers. is a relatively new service that carries the tagline, “We’re creating tools to streamline podcast sponsorship.” allows both podcasters and those who’d like to advertise on podcasts to sign up for accounts. From there, advertisers can create campaigns. Podcasters can opt-in to the campaigns they like. then handles the financial transactions to ensure podcast producers get paid:

Our campaign creator makes it easy to get up and running. Craft your message and target your audience. Select a budget and maximum CPM—we’ll take it from there.


We’ll use our analytics engine to offer your sponsorship opportunity to a variety of relevant shows at a competitive price. Podcasters who accept your offer will read your message on the air.


As episodes are recorded, campaign reports provide a high-level overview of your campaign’s success. Listen to delivered messages, view your total impressions, track your budget, and more. goes on to bill itself as an “open marketplace” as opposed to “an exclusive network” for sponsorship. The service is already working with an impressive list of shows in all of the usual podcast categories. If you’d like to learn more about you can register for a free account and sign up as either a podcast producer or an advertiser.

IAB Podcast Upfront Planned for September

IAB logoThe term “upfront” comes from the television industry. Upfronts are meetings that are usually held a few months before a new TV season is about to begin. In these meetings, TV networks commune with potential sponsors to hammer out advertising deals for the coming season. Thus, giving those ad buyers the ability to purchase their ad spots “upfront.” In September, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) will hold its first ever podcast upfronts in New York.

IAB’s upfront will be a one-day event that will consist of a series of presentations as well as a “celebrity keynote speaker” that has yet to be announced. The following companies are scheduled to attend the upfront:

  • NPR
  • WNYC
  • Panoply
  • Podtrac
  • AdLarge
  • Midroll

IAB is hoping this event will drum up more interest in the medium of podcasting as a solid platform for advertising. IAB is also hoping to attract ad buyers from both the traditional radio space and the digital media space. Representatives from both groups are often tasked with buying podcast ads, which is unique to podcasting’s position of being a purely digital medium that often (especially in the case of NPR) repurposes radio broadcasts.

You can learn more about IAB’s upfront event and request an invite at the IAB website.

How Do You Present Ads in Your Podcast?

Audible logoNot every podcast includes ads. Those that do often include the advertisement close to the middle of their episode. The New York Times has an article titled: Ads for Podcasts Test the Line Between Story and Sponsor. It got me to thinking about the way I’ve presented ads in some of the podcasts that I’ve been involved with.

The article talks about advertising in podcasts, and points out that more and more companies are seeking to place ads into the episodes of the most popular podcasts. The thing is, they want more than placement. They are seeking ads that come across as less like advertisements and more like an entertaining story.

This, to me, is problematic, especially when the ad is being delivered by a podcaster who is already known as a serious journalist. How is the listener to differentiate between the advertisement and the true content of the episode, when the person delivering it is someone they expect to provide news and story? The lines are becoming a bit blurred.

One thing that makes this possible is the fact that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has no oversight on podcasts. There are rules regarding how ads are presented on commercial radio. Ads are not allowed at all on public radio. Currently, there are no boundaries in place that limit how ads are presented on podcasts.

It makes me think of the really early days of television, when hosts of children’s programing literally told the children viewing the show to ask their parents to buy them a certain kind of cereal. The kids, of course, weren’t able to identify that as an ad. They just knew that the TV person, whom they liked, told them to get their parents to buy the cereal.

I have been involved in two podcasts that each had Audible as a sponsor. In each show, the audible ad was prefaced by something similar to “Audible is the sponsor of our show”. We tried to make it clear that what we were about to say was an ad.

That being said, the two shows handled the ad differently. The gaming podcast I’m involved in clearly states the sponsorship, and gives details of what Audible offers. That’s it. The music podcast that I was involved in, that has since “podfaded”, did the same, but added more. My co-host and I honestly enjoyed talking about the books we read, and we chose to include a discussion about one of those books into each ad. Each book was available on Audible.

Did we unintentionally make things confusing for our (admittedly few) listeners by handling the ad that way? My co-host really did have an Audible subscription, while I did not. It probably appeared as if I did, though. Was I being dishonest with my listeners? I’m not entirely sure.

Anyway, the point I’m making is that podcasters should be aware of how their ads are being perceived by their listeners. There is a fine line between including what is obviously an ad, and producing what amounts to a “segment” that just so happens to be about a product from a company that sponsors your show.

Which Podcasts Have The Most Ads?

Your Ad HereSince the early days of podcasting, advertising has been a bit of a touchy subject. Some claimed that having ads in podcasts would be the ultimate sellout. An end to the medium’s purity as a by-the-people-for-the-people creation. Others waited with marked anticipation for the arrival of parties who were interested in providing money in exchange for sponsored messages. Whatever side of the fence you’re on, advertising in podcasting is definitely here to stay. With that in mind, I decided to do a fairly unscientific poll of which podcasts actually have the most ads. Using an Evernote document, I made a simple tally of the number of times I heard an ad during podcasts I’m subscribed to or podcasts I work on for clients. This includes preroll, post-roll, and mid-roll ads, whether they were live reads or prerecorded. If a show had a simple, “This podcast is sponsored by…” tagline, I didn’t include it unless the message was longer than five seconds. Here’s the results: Continue reading

54 Seconds (The Wadsworth Constant)

Podcasting is part of a strange realm of content where consumer engagement lives somewhere between the extremes of reading and watching. There’s whole books that could be written about the differences between these three mediums, and in fact I wrote a thesis about it a few years ago, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that reading requires more use of the imagination, watching is quicker to engage and listening lies somewhere in between those two poles.

On the imagination scale, audio sits in a nice middle ground where our voices are doing half the work and the listener does the other half, the visual half, by themselves. This is a great advantage of audio, where it allows consumers to drive a car, exercise, and generally go about their business while enjoying your content. On the engagement scale, audio can often be left behind. The instant visual impact provided by video content allows video producers to hook their viewers and move straight into their content. Except the immediacy of video, where a title card can be all the introduction the audience needs, is rarely taken advantage of. This phenomenon of long, unnecessary introductions in online videos gave rise to what is known as The Wadsworth Constant.

Named for the handle of the Reddit user who introduced the concept, the Wadsworth Constant holds that the first 30% of any online video is easily skipped without missing any important content. YouTube even introduced a URL modifier (append &wadsworth=1 to the end of any YouTube URL) that instantly skips the first 30% of any video. Of course it isn’t true for every video, sometimes you may need to jump back for context, but try it out, you’d be surprised just how effective the constant is.

The Wadsworth Constant is a reliable way to skip the unnecessary introduction portion of most online videos, but it’s also an effective rule in other mediums. If we apply the Wadsworth Constant to this article, then we start at “jump” in the last sentence of the previous paragraph, skipping the context and getting right in to the take-away from this article…

What lessons can we learn from this when applying it to our podcasts? We’ve already learned that audio content is a great stimulant for the imagination and when listeners are engaged, the imagination element is a great tool to make your content more intimate and personal, but our problem is how to get over that initial barrier of getting the audience to listen.

Podcasting has the built in method of serialisation; releasing regular content to create a habit in the audience, ensuring that you don’t have to guide your audience over that hump every episode. This doesn’t help us get new listeners though, and if we get too reliant on this, it can even lose us our subscribers. One of my favourite podcasts is slowly increasing the advertising content they play at the top of the show. Obviously I’m happy to tolerate a few advertisements for free, daily content, but when there’s 180 seconds of advertising played, even before the intro theme is heard, it can be easy to switch to another podcast that doesn’t have that kind of barrier. If I were a new listener it would be even easier for me to turn off. This isn’t an article about advertising, so let’s not go any further into that, but the lesson to be learned is that front-loading your show with advertising, introductions, theme music and other secondary content can be a barrier to entry for your audience.

How fast can you get from the audience pressing play on your podcast to hearing the content they downloaded your show to listen to? A theme song can be a good device for framing your show and putting your audience in a familiar mindset for your podcast, but it’s a hangover from old media content where it could signal the transition from one show to the next. In the stand-alone podcast world, do you need it? Advertisers obviously pay a premium to be read at the top of the show, where they are guaranteed to be heard, but if you’re loading three minutes of sponsors before a single second of content, how can you be sure your listeners aren’t skipping forward, or worse, switching off? Advertisers won’t keep paying those premiums if you don’t deliver your audience effectively.

If your podcast runs for more than ten minutes it’s likely that 30% is over-reaching. For an hour show the applied constant would mean that the first eighteen minutes are disposable. If you have eighteen minutes of fluff and filler at the start of your podcast then you should have very grave concerns about the quality of your content. Let’s go back to the examples I gave earlier, of the podcast that loaded three minutes of advertising at the top of the show. If we apply the Wadsworth Constant to this example, we get 54 seconds that is not needed. Can you get to your main content within 54 seconds of the show starting? Can you have your advertising, theme music and introductions completed in under a minute? If you do you might find your audience quicker to engage with you. Forcing yourself to skip the fluff will also help you tighten up your show. Don’t forget the Wadsworth Constant can be applied multiple times. Applying it to this paragraph three times discards everything before the salient question, “Can you get to your main content within 54 seconds of the show starting?”

Try it out and see if you can streamline your podcast.

If you want to hear further discussion on this, I discussed it on my podcast with Joshua Liston, Social Audio Think Tank. If you want to know more about the Wadsworth Constant then you can read the genesis of the term from Know Your Meme.

Written by Jackson Rogers (OzPodcasts)