Podcast Advertising in the Sciences

Podcast Advertising in the Sciences

The podcast has been a revolutionary medium for digital audio content and has gained the attention of marketers and advertisers world-wide. What do you need to know about podcast advertising in the sciences? If you’re thinking about how to tap into this audience for your company, read this for guidelines to help inform your podcast strategy.

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The number of podcast subscribers is growing annually and represents millions of dollars in consumer purchases each year. Not surprisingly to our audience, educational podcasts (i.e. science and medicine) were the most popular podcast genre second only to comedy, likely owing to the in-depth exploratory possibilities of the podcasting medium for its producers. If used strategically, podcasts can be great marketing tools.

Because not everyone has the fame of Neil deGrasse Tyson or the audience support of NPR, it’s important to note that podcast marketing in the sciences doesn’t mean that your business or organization needs to launch its own. Furthermore, not everyone has the resources to operate and maintain their own podcast, perhaps exemplified by data showing that only about 40% of all accessible podcasts were active in 2015 and that most podcasts shut down after 6 months.

How can you take advantage of this effective storytelling tool? Podcast advertising and sponsorship is a relatively inexpensive way to access a large and constantly growing audience of dedicated fans. What is perhaps most interesting and useful to science marketers is that it reaches a generally hard to reach demographic.

If you’re thinking about podcast sponsorship in the sciences, consider these elements.

Fundamentals of Podcast Advertising

Podcast advertising is typically sold on a “cost per mille” (CPM) bases, which translates to cost per thousand from Italian. CPM means that the cost for a podcast ad is the cost per every thousand “listens” defined as a unique download or stream. For example, if a podcast’s CPM is $50, that means you pay $50 for every thousand “listens”.

The standard ad units available on most podcasts are soundbites called pre-rolls, mid-rolls, and post-rolls that reflect spot position – where in the show you want your ad to run: at the beginning, the middle, or the end. Spot position has distinct advantages, run times and, correspondingly, CPMs. The availability and number of each will vary depending on the length of a podcast.

Podcast advertising is not limited to soundbites and may include non-audio elements, such as logo placement on the show art. Also, many podcasts have their own websites for which they may also have sponsorship opportunities like web banners, and, if they acquire explicit email permissions, can send out third-party email blasts.

Podcast Ad Delivery and Targeting

The two main versions of advertising in podcasts are “baked-in” and “dynamically inserted” advertising.

Baked-in features are soundbites that live within the podcast content for as long as it is available. These baked-in features are most often ‘host-read’, providing a unique opportunity that leverages the host personality, and more importantly, is less of an interruption for the listener.

Dynamically inserted ads are those that are pre-recorded then placed in, often by an ad-server. A dynamically inserted ad enables publishers to switch out the ad in the audio file on demand, whenever a listener downloads the podcast file.

Dynamic ad-insertion and baked-in advertisements each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Baked-in advertisements are more a part of the fabric of the show, while dynamically served ads from an ad server offer precise targeting and measurement capabilities, though it contains the risk of disrupting the natural podcast storytelling. Your preferred supplier can help you further evaluate the suitability of these options for ad campaigns.

Science Podcast Sponsorship Examples

Here are a few popular science podcasts with sponsorship and advertising examples:

Mendelspod: Founded in 2011 to advance life science research, Mendelspod goes beyond quick sound bites to create a space for probing conversations and deep insight into the topics and trends which shape the healthcare industry’s future. Mendelspod offers traditional sponsorship options including web banners, email ads and third-party email blasting as well as being mentioned as a sponsor during the show. Perhaps more valuable to the modern science marketer are opportunities for series underwriting with Mendelspod in which they work with you to find speakers to explore an area of life science important to your organization. Think branded content or native advertising.

The Naked Scientists: Based at Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), The Naked Scientists are a team of scientists, doctors and communicators whose passion is to help the general public to understand and engage with the worlds of science, technology and medicine. They have a range of sponsorship options including carrying advertising directly on their website as well as within the podcast itself. In addition, you can hire The Naked Scientists to appear at an event or deliver a live show at a venue, such as a conference that you are also sponsoring.

• And guess what? We now have one too! C&EN’s first podcast, aptly named Stereo Chemistry, launched in February this year and aims to be an extension of our reporting, – now with the voices of the chemistry community involved in the stories themselves. So far we’ve talked with leaders and up-and-comers in the field of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs); the benefits, questions, and frustrations presented by the new ChemRxiv server; and what brought a wide range of chemists to our most recent ACS National Meeting. You can even listen to our editor in chief talk about her hopes for the show in this quick promo. Subscribe on these channels, with more coming soon: iTunes, TuneIn, Soundcloud or Google Play. Questions about being a part of the show? Reach out to us at advertising@acs.org for more.

These inexpensive and risk-averse marketing opportunities can give you a foothold in podcast marketing and present an alternative to starting your own podcast marketing campaign.

Which is worth thinking about: the number of podcasts and podcast listeners has been growing every year, providing a way to access huge, dedicated audiences. But if you are thinking about launching your own podcast, make sure it aligns with your business goals and understand how to integrate it into your overall marketing strategy. Launching a science podcast can seem easy, especially if you can successfully brand to scientists, contextualize scientific content, maintain keyword optimization, amass and engage subscribers, and obtain necessary resources from advertising…. Kidding aside, we did cover podcasting 101 earlier here, which gives some quick insights as to what to consider.

Otherwise, consider finding sponsorship opportunities with your favorite science podcast to get your brand’s message out.

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