Podcasters: Sponsorships = Partnerships


(By Steve Stewart) Podcast sponsorships must be more like partnerships. Otherwise, ads are simply wasting the listener’s time, the sponsors’ money, and can cost the podcaster too. This post may get me into a bunch of hot water, but the following has to be said: Sponsors who do not have direct ties with the podcast or host are wasting the listener’s time, the sponsors’ money, and sometimes cost the podcaster money too.

Note: I’m not talking about all sponsorships. What is bad for one podcast might be perfect for another. I’m referring to ads that don’t “fit” the genre of the show, or the absence of a relationship between the podcast host and sponsor.

The problems of sponsorships without partnerships:
1. If the host does a live read for a product they have no experience with, there’s no conviction in the voice of the podcaster. This diminishes the likelihood a listener is going to act on the call-to-action.

2. Mid-rolls for “detached” products and services interrupt the listener experience. Selling legal services on a Hulk Fan podcast is just throwing money away and makes the listeners angry. You don’t want to see the listeners angry.

3. Pre-recorded ads by the sponsor or an advertising company don’t work like a live read from a podcast host. Period.

4. In this day and age of the DVR, we have been conditioned to skip or ignore ads. (Yes, that’s a Skip Forward button in your podcast app — and it’s in every app!) If a podcast mid-roll isn’t compelling, or is completely detached from the content/topic/niche of the show, then we all skip forward or tune out. Nobody wins.

Other side-effects
Other problems I have experienced with impersonal, disconnected sponsorships on my clients’ shows:

Buying one episode does not work
Do you buy something the first time you hear/see it? Neither will the listener who has both hands on the wheel while driving to work.

Changes in offerings or ad copy cost the podcaster money
This happens all the time to one of my clients. We produce and schedule her show 5-14 days in advance. Then one of the large-name sponsors changes their offer.

Any change in an offer/copy a few days before publishing throws a wrench in the production process. Not only does the scheduled post have to be delayed, but a new version created and uploaded, and URLs replaced in scheduled social media posts and…(get the picture?)

The result is stress, more work, and possibly a less desirable product because the host had to record the new copy in her car while on vacation.

Oh, and the host might have to pay me more for the extra work.

The solution to bad podcast sponsorships
The solution is to educate companies on what it means to sponsor a podcast.

• Podcasts are a long-play. It takes a minimum of three episodes to have any effect. The more impressions over a long period of time, the better.

• Sponsors are buying the credibility of the host with hopes of becoming a trusted product or service. See problem #1 for why the sponsor needs to have some sort of relationship with the show and/or host.

• Just as a cereal company wouldn’t have their product displayed next to the household cleaners, a sponsor shouldn’t advertise on a show that has nothing in common with their product/service. Personal testimonies or products that are in line with the show’s genre go a long, long way.

When it comes to podcasting sponsorships: Sponsorships = Partnerships.

Sponsorships – Relationships = wasted time and money for everyone involved.

Steve Stewart is a professional podcast editor and engineer for award-winning finance podcasts like Stacking Benjamins, Afford Anything, and more. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @stevestewartme. Check out his website https://SteveStewart.me



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