What podcast ads should I run?

Estimated read time: 5 minutes



Podcast ads are a potential way for content creators to monetize their shows and for brands to reach different audiences.

Usually podcast ads are read by the host and are quick and to the point within the show. Several types of podcast ads exist. Let’s discuss them here.

The pre-roll podcast ad

This ad runs right at the beginning of a podcast episode. It comes before all the content and listeners who want to listen to your show will have to listen to it or skip through it.

The advantage is that if anyone will listen to the episode they will hear this podcast ad. Or if they know there are ads for 2 minutes will just skip ahead.

Read next: What’s the difference between a podcast listen and download?

The mid-roll podcast ad

This podcast ad runs in the middle of content.

The advantage of this ad is that people are already listening to the show and may be less likely to skip through it. They may just be running the podcast audio and won’t take the time to click skip ahead 15 seconds.

Podcast ads in the written description

I saw this on a Washington Football Team related podcast. John Keim had the sponsors and their podcast ads listed in the written description:

This is a great idea and makes it easy to highlight the sponsor or a business message to the potential listeners in the written description.

Be careful with only sharing sponsor messages there; especially early on in a podcast launch. It could potentially negatively impact audience growth if people can’t figure out what the new show is about.



It’s quite hard to tell how many people actually look at this, but if there’s a trackable link with a call to action that’s one way results can be tracked.

Sponsored guests

Another type of podcast-type ad is an entire episode that is sponsored by the company that is appearing on that episode. I have had maybe 10-20 or so of these in the last year and even though it’s a sponsored show, the episode still should be interesting and similar to the style of the overall podcast.

At the beginning of the show, just say “Thanks to xyz for sponsoring today’s episode.”

How podcast ads are inserted

When it comes to the shorter podcast ads, there are two ways they are inserted.

Dynamic podcast ad insertion

Think of Google ads on a website. You place the ad code on the site and then Google serves whatever ads are currently running campaigns there. Same thing here, you please a podcast ad marker into episodes and whatever ads are currently running will run there. If no ads are running, no ads will run. In Anchor, the dynamic insertion looks like this below.

podcast ad ahead of content

Permanent podcast ad insertion

These are ads that the host will read on-air while livestreaming or recording the episode. So if they say “We are presented to you by Company xyz who does abc…” that stays with that episode.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both types certainly and it’s good to be aware of the difference. Permanent insertion might be easier and more profitable for newer shows that have smaller audiences. But what if somebody paid you $50 for a permanent ad spot and now that episode takes off? That’s where dynamic insertion can help. Or you can raise the price for permanent insertion.

Podcast ads within articles

I turn many of my podcasts into written articles, like this show on branded face masks.

The podcast ad message can also be listed in this article. My podcast articles often get twice as many reads as the podcast gets listens so it’s another way to make the podcast ads partnership more valuable to your sponsor. Of course, I usually also embed my podcast episode within the article so people might hear it there as well.

When should you run podcast ads?

There are two types of podcast ads to consider:

  • When an external company buys space on your podcast
  • When you promote internal services or products

Example 1 includes somebody who wants to reach your audience. Podcast advertising expert Heather Osgood said on an episode of my podcast that you’ll have to have 5,000 or more listens to each episode to make this work.

Example 2 includes promoting your company’s services. That could include:

  • Professional services
  • Products
  • A book
  • A conference

How to maximize podcast ads

I like to think of podcast ads as ads and calls to action that are part of an overall integrated strategy. Especially as podcasts are starting to grow, think about how you can maximize ads – internal and external – across all channels where it makes sense.

Of course, it’s only possible when you take a Create Once, Publish Everywhere approach with the content. That’s why I livestream my podcasts.

If you have a ton of listeners for your podcast the podcast-only advertising model may be tempting. But if it’s taking off there why not maximize results by using the content on all the channels?

Remember that some listeners skip ahead

For hands-on users it’s easy to fast forward. Skipping commercials is easy.

Here’s a screen shot from Apple Podcasts:

You can easily move forward in an episode. Scrub along (highlight in image). Of course it’s hard to tell where you will end up and if you missed something you wanted to hear. The 15-second skip function is another way listeners skip ahead.

On video platforms – like YouTube and Netflix- at least you have a visual indicator of what you are fast forwarding through.

Some of the video platforms now also restrict fast forwarding when there’s a commercial on. That will likely come to podcasts at some point.

But there’s a way for listeners to skip commercials and chit chatter they don’t like. So keep that in mind and try to integrate all parts of the show in a way that people want to listen.

Some podcasters kind of encourage skipping, too, when they publish time codes:

At 2:32, we talk about what to say at the beginning of a podcast. Maybe consider putting ads in front of those sections and then have the time code go to the ad first.

I only mention this hear because all these things impact user experience and the better the user experience, the more likely listeners will listen to the episode and hear the ads.