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How to Write Effective Creative for Podcast Advertising


November 7, 2019


July 6, 2021

If you listen to podcasts you’re sure to run into a few ad reads for toothbrushes, meal kits, or how to find your next hire. You might skip them with your :30s fast forward button, or you may stick around to hear if the hosts have fun with it. If you’re in the latter category you know that podcast ad reads can be not only compelling, but also extremely entertaining.

If you’re an advertiser, you no doubt want to capture some of this ad magic. Having a host talk about your product in their own words while conveying your value props can get your brand name on the radar of an audience that is listening closely and has the potential to be a new acquisition.

But how do you make an ad read sound natural? How can you get hosts to be enthusiastic about your product? What about an ad read drives sales? Let's explore how to write effective podcast advertising creative.

Step 1: No more, no less

You want to give the host information to work with; however, having too much information on the page can lead to confusion and be detrimental to the flow of the ad. For the ad copy, keep it simple and provide key elements for the host to use:

  • Instructions: Want them to read the copy verbatim? Note it. Are they free to ad-lib and go off on tangents? Let them know! Instructions seem simple, but if you want a quality read, you need to set expectations for what you’re looking for.
  • Sample introductions: The host may read them verbatim or the example may spark an idea about a story to tie into the read. Having a sample for them helps to set the tone and gives them room to execute a fantastic read if they don’t have an anecdote that relates to your product.
  • Key value props and call to action: What does your company do? How is it different? How can it benefit the user? Be sure to include the most necessary and compelling items you want the listener to know. This is especially important since there are no visuals accompanying the ad. And finally, how can the listener buy your product? If there are more important details to learn about the brand that don’t belong in copy, send the host a separate on-boarding document to reference.

Step 2: Tell the audience what to do

Not only do you need to provide instructions to the host, you also need to provide instructions to the listener on how to find your product and get their special podcast discount. The more directly they can execute the action the better, so make it clear.

  • Provide the path: A clear call-to-action statement should be included in copy. Should listeners go to a specific URL? Will that promo auto-populate to their cart or will they also have to insert the code when they check out? Maybe you don’t want them to use a URL, but want to drive to an app. Make sure they know what to expect and where to go.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat: Once isn’t enough for a call-to-action. Have the host repeat where listeners should go, as well as the offer!

Step 3: Check your voice

Part of what makes podcast ads fun to listen to is the host making it their own, whether it’s their particular comedic flair, irreverent humor, or compelling endorsement. You want to let them infuse their own voice and avoid your brand voice coming through too much.

  • Take out most brand language: There is a place for brand language (think intense mission statements, brand guidelines), but it’s not in podcast ad copy (especially if the campaign will be measured against performance goals). A host may gawk at terms and explanations that to marketers seem beautifully crafted and indicative of their brand voice. Keeping language simple and to the point allows hosts to speak the way they normally do during the show.
  • Don’t try to match their style: If you’re working with a show you’re familiar with, you might know the certain flavor they bring to the reads. Even though you know their tone, don’t try to write what you think they’ll sound like. It may sound disingenuous coming from them, which affects the personal nature that makes podcast ads so special.

Step 4: Listen, communicate, iterate

During your campaign, listen to clips of the ad reads, not just to check to see if the spot did indeed run, but more importantly, to evaluate how the host responded to the copy. Listening to reads allows you to fine tune your podcast advertising creative and provides you an opportunity to communicate with the show to give any necessary feedback.

  • Communicate feedback: If the host didn’t follow directions or didn’t read the CTA the number of times you indicated, the ideal time to correct it is after the first read. Being vigilant about listening to reads can help course correct if needed and lead to more effective reads in the future.
  • Listen to deliveries: Each host is going to have a different take on the copy, but if you notice that all hosts are tripping on a certain phase or confused by the same talking point you may want to change it. A host can also bring up different features or have a turn of phrase that you really like that could also be useful for future copy iterations. Listen to reads to hear how real people talk about your brand and use it to your advantage.
  • Update the creative: Don’t let copy get stale. After 3-4 reads, listeners may have heard the same stories and talking points. Switch it out and keep the hosts and the listeners excited about hearing something new.

Podcast advertising can be a powerful tool in your marketing playbook, but the channel has creative peculiarities that need to be minded. With these best practices in place, you’ll be setting hosts up to deliver an engaging and effective ad, and most importantly, to have fun with it, because that’s where the magic happens.

If you’re interested in more details about how to craft the perfect podcast advertising creative for your campaign, or how to run a more effective podcast campaign in general, reach out to hello@rightsideup.co to learn more about how Right Side Up can partner with you.

Lindsay Piper Shaw is a director of offline marketing at Right Side Up, where she partners with innovative brands on in-house marketing initiatives, including podcast and other offline channels. Prior to joining Right Side Up, Lindsay scaled podcast campaigns for brands like quip, Lyft, and Texture, and she has also worked with McDonald’s, Honda, ampm, and Tempur-Sealy, among others. She is passionate about the podcast space as a growth driver, and especially loves educating newcomers in the channel. In her free time she listens to podcasts and makes a podcast called Murder We Wrote (she really can’t get enough podcasts).

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