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Lindsay Shelton 

A new sheriff is in town: Host-read ads are the future of podcast advertising

A new sheriff is in town: Host-read ads are the future of podcast advertising

Lindsay Shelton, strategic partnerships manager at A Million Ads, extols the benefits of a new frontier in podcast advertising

Podcasts, the media platform of 2020 is still seeing immense growth due to our transformed daily behaviours.

As a result,  we’ve seen podcast listening move away from spiking around commuting times and work breaks, towards a more constant stream of listening throughout the day.

From 2020 to 2027, Grand View Research predicts that the podcast industry will see a compound annual growth rate of 27.5%, while there are 48 million episodes on just Apple Podcasts alone, according to Podcast Insights.

There is content out there for everybody – whether listeners are interested in true crime, sport, wellness, finance, or any other niche. And podcast listeners really tune in to and are engaged with the content they choose to listen to, compared to the broader digital audio space.

This makes podcasts the ideal environment for advertisers to reach consumers with campaigns based on the one-to-one listening experience.

Amazon recently revealed its plans to make a huge push on podcast advertising this year following its acquisition of podcast firm Wondery, which runs host-read ads.

Simultaneously however, it’s important for advertisers to pay close attention to personalisation, as they would with advertising through any other digital medium.

Adobe’s CMO Report cites that 62% of consumers think it’s important for brands to adjust ads to their current context and 42% get annoyed when ad content is not personalised.

People want personalisation, so, when it comes to podcasts, brands need to look beyond standard audio ads or host-read ads for effective engagement.

Enter dynamic host-read ads, an exciting new global frontier for audio advertisers, which enables them to connect to and engage with their consumers.

Podcast hosts can become the voices of brands

Traditional host-read ads are, of course, native to the podcast experience - hosts are in some respects a type of influencer and build relationships with their listeners.

Indeed, this can be maximised  by making these ads more dynamic. In short, dynamic host-read ads are the future of podcast advertising.

These immersive ads adapt to match the content of the listener’s podcast, as well as detecting the listener’s situational context to instantly create a personalised ad.

This gives advertisers the chance to create ads that listeners actually enjoy, while simultaneously combating ad fatigue.

With dynamic host-read ads, podcast hosts build on their role as influencers by delivering what are essentially highly personalised, sponsored content to their audience.

Hosts are able to continue to serve their audience with a tone of voice they’re familiar with and not break up the podcast experience with a script written by a brand or agency.

As a result,  people will continue to listen and enjoy throughout these ads because of the ‘rapport’ they have with the host.

These ads can be personalised and made relevant based on the time of day, the location of the listener, rotated through different messages or products as well as other contextual targeting options. If someone is listening on a Monday morning, they’re going to hear a different ad versus when they’re listening on a Thursday afternoon.

This format allows complete alignment of a brand’s message and the content of the podcast or the interests of the host.

For example, a host could reference their favourite fast-food outlet in an ad for a food delivery service, or discuss their favourite football team when promoting TV coverage of a particular competition.

Alongside dynamic host-read ads, there is the possibility of doing ‘blended host-read ads’, where a branded voiceover interacts with the host.

This capability offers the same opportunities to scale as dynamic ads and is able to combine the host's personality with the sonic branding whilst ensuring consistent ad experiences across platforms.

At A Million Ads for example, we are currently working with a leading financial brand and Acast, the world’s largest podcast company, on an upcoming dynamic host-read ad campaign.

The campaign will use two different hosts and tap into location and other contextual data points to deliver a truly localised feel depending on the area where the user is listening.

While it’s still early days for dynamic host-read ads, we see it becoming the standard practice for podcast ads.

Utilising celebrity podcast hosts’ own voices to deliver personalised, dynamic messaging means that advertisers can reach their target audience with ease and deliver real results.

Giving the host the autonomy to create their own dynamic scripts that fit them, what they believe, and how they feel about a brand or product helps to deliver an authentic, relevant, and personalised message to the audience.

In the coming months, we expect to see more and more brands jump on the dynamic host-read ads bandwagon.

By doing so, brands can now make the most of trusted and popular hosts to target their audience less intrusively, but still with a product or service that may be of interest in that very moment.

In turn. this opens up great opportunities for brands to build better connections with their consumers. A win-win for any advertiser.

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