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Podcast Advertiser Boot Camp, Part 3: Podcast Ad Copy Creative Best Practices and Pre-Launch Checklist


November 17, 2021


November 22, 2021

Right Side Up’s Offline team hosted a Podcast Advertiser Boot Camp at Podcast Movement Virtual in October 2020. This deep-dive course was designed for aspiring and current podcast advertisers to help them execute campaigns effectively and efficiently. In this series of articles, we’ll capture the expert insights from the boot camp and offer practical tips to get the most out of your podcast advertising campaigns. This updated third installment focuses on podcast ad copy and pre-launch steps. Check out the first article in the series for our thoughts on pre-planning, and the second article in the series about media buying and planning.

If you’re an advertiser, you probably know a great podcast advertisement when you hear one. Whether it’s for toothbrushes, meal delivery, or how to find your next hire, good podcast ad creative can create magic for your brand. But how do you make an ad read sound natural? How can you get hosts to be enthusiastic about your product? And what characteristics of an ad read drive sales? 

Let's explore how to write effective podcast ad copy and outline what needs to be checked off your list before launching your campaign.

What Does Podcast Ad Creative Look Like?

Host-read ads often connect with listeners on a more human level versus a produced, branded ad, like the ads you hear most often on the radio. Having a host talk about your product in their own words while conveying your value propositions can get your brand name on the radar of an audience that is listening closely. Even if the product is not explicitly endorsed by the host, loyal listeners are more inclined to make a purchase after hearing an authentic recommendation from a podcast host they trust.

Solid podcast ad creative guides—not scripts—the host to create the most compelling ad possible. Unlike other channels, there are no visual components here, no jazzy videos or animations to catch people’s eye, and no demonstrable images of your product in use. Because of that, your messaging needs to be tight and clearly laid out for the host, so they can hit the high points and ad lib in their own voice. To maintain a natural feel, your podcast ad copy should be less prescriptive than a script, but provide more direction than a bulleted list. 

Here are the key tips to keep in mind, which we’ll break down in more detail throughout the article:

  • Provide brief talking points about the brand; ideally your copy and instructions fit on one page
  • Leave room for ad lib, but write points in a way that won’t sound weird if read verbatim
  • Encourage personalization where possible
  • Avoid flowery brand language
  • Include a call to action for your listeners

Do’s and don’ts of podcast creative

List of do's and don'ts for podcast ad creative.

What to Include in Your Podcast Ad Copy

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. Many hosts will review the copy beforehand. But you want your copy to be able to be understood and help the host execute a read even if it’s the first time they are seeing it.  

The three basic parts of podcast copy are:

Podcast ad copy components inclduing introduction, body copy, and call to action

The structure of podcast advertising creative

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: Your introduction might focus on common pain points for users of your product, real world examples of your product in use, or anything in pop culture related to your product. The host may read it 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. 
  • Body copy with key value props: After the introduction, use your body copy to support that initial hook with details or value props. What does your company do? How does your product work? Why is your company different from your competitors? 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. 
  • Transition to CTA: 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.

Deliver a clear call to action to podcast audiences

The call to action (CTA) then delivers the final push to convert listeners. 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. And this will also make it easier to properly attribute your performance when measuring the success of your campaign.

  • Provide the path: A clear CTA must be included in your copy. Do listeners have to go to a specific URL? Will that URL auto-apply the promo code to their cart or will they also have to type 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.
  • Stress urgency to get the deal: Encourage listeners to act now to get a special deal that is only available to them. Pay attention to attractive price points, freebies, and other elements that make the offer feel exclusive. Podcast listeners are used to brands providing promotions in the ads, so they are primed to listen for the deal. Incentivize them, not just because it’s what they expect as the “norm,” but also because it aids in understanding direct performance from the show. If you give an incentive to keep the podcast listeners converting on the podcast vanity URL, they may not need to look around your site for a better offer, and the advertiser gets a better view into direct performance on the show level.  
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat: Once isn’t enough for a call to action in audio advertising; keep in mind that the listener is often doing something else while listening, like running or driving. Have the host repeat where listeners should go, as well as the offer, 2–3x.

Give your podcast ad creative room to breathe

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.

Getting Ready to Launch a Podcast Ad Campaign

Before you hit go, there are a few things you can do to ensure your campaign runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This is your last opportunity to set yourself up for success before your ads go live, so make the most of it.

Version your copy and get it to the hosts

Each show must receive their own version of the copy points or each individual show with fields changed for the specific network, show, and promo code or vanity URL. Ensure that the promo code or vanity URL matches what will be live for the campaign—once the host says it in the ad they can’t go back to change it, so it’s best to double check everything prior to trafficking the copy. The copy and other onboarding resources should be packaged and sent to your point person at the network or show. Be sure to include how long you want the copy to be used, typically until further notice or UFN.

Everything should be sent about two weeks before launch, but check with your contact as some networks have a tighter turnaround or specific delivery preferences.

Onboarding resource for supporting details

Creating a simple onboarding resource (think one-pager or short deck) helps the host better understand your brand and product, which leads to better reads. Remember how we said to cut out all of your flowery brand language earlier? This document is the perfect place for getting deeper about your brand and including everything you want the host to know. It should feature:

  • Basic information about your brand
  • Any additional details about your brand/product that weren’t included in the copy
  • How the host can get and use your product 
  • Creative do’s and don’ts like words, phrases, or associations to avoid
  • Encouragement and thanks
  • Contact information for someone on your team in case of any issues

Onboarding logistics

Ideally, you want to try to set up calls with all of the shows for your campaign to talk with either the host or someone from their team. During the calls, you can answer any questions they have about your brand, product, or copy. This is also a good time to go through the onboarding resources together to make sure everyone is on the same page. 

Before your campaign launches, all hosts should have the opportunity to try your product, which helps encourage authentic reads. Creating a Google Form or other template for capturing host contact information can help make it easy to set them up with trial codes and accounts.

Last steps before you launch

Think you’re ready to launch? Follow this checklist and triple check that everything is good to go:

  • All copy is finalized and customized for each individual show.
  • Hosts are onboarded and received the product in advance.
  • Landing pages and promo codes are live.
  • Your How Did You Hear About Us survey is live and includes an option to choose “podcast.”
  • Your website, app, and supply chain are ready to handle an influx of volume (just in case you hit it big).

Evaluate and Iterate Podcast Ad Copy After Launch

Once you launch, your podcast ad copy work isn’t over. 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. Many advertisers tend to refresh their content quarterly, given the typical flighting cadence for this channel.

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. Stay tuned for the last article in this series, which covers pre-launch and campaign analysis, measurement, and attribution. And until then, check out some insights on the business intelligence gap in podcast advertising.

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.

Krystina Rubino joined Right Side Up to start its offline marketing practice when she realized too many brands leave offline channels on the table, favoring digital channels past diminishing returns. She has been obsessed with all forms of media for as long as she can remember; she’s an agency and marketing leader with deep experience in building brands and meeting growth goals, for companies of all stages and sizes. She’s spent her career helping companies and brands like Advil, DoorDash, P&G, Lyft, and StitchFix, develop profitable digital and offline media campaigns, often as vanguards in their category and the medium. Her favorite question to ask is “What’s next?” when helping grow a business or scale a customer acquisition campaign.

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).

Jes Parker is a writer and content marketer with experience creating B2B and consumer-facing assets that build brands and make complex concepts more human. She has worked with companies and nonprofits like Highstead Foundation, Trust for Public Land, Harvard University, the Museum of the City of New York, and Times Square Alliance to craft accessible and engaging content strategies.

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Let's talk growth

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Let's talk growth

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