How to Monetize a Podcast

There are currently three major ways to monetize a podcast. In our most recent Whiteboard Wednesday, we talk about how creators of all sizes can easily make money off of their audio via audio advertising, subscription, and services.

Three Ways to Monetize Your Podcast

Video Transcript

On today’s Whiteboard Wednesday, I wanted to talk about the various ways that you could potentially monetize your podcast. The three most popular ways that we see creators monetizing their podcast today, really fall into three categories. The first is advertising. The second is monetizing your podcast through subscriptions. And then the third is leveraging your audience in more of a marketing capacity to sell additional services, whether that’s books or white papers or products that you own and sell.

How to Monetize Your Podcast Via Advertising

I’m going to first dive into how to monetize your podcast via advertising. Now, you’ve probably listened to a lot of podcasts where maybe you started to hear a 30 second, or a 60 second audio ad before the episode even started, and that’s called a pre-roll ad. Now, maybe you’re listening to an episode and halfway through you hear another 30 or 60 second audio ad. That would be called a mid-roll ad spot. And then finally, let’s say you finish the episode and at the end, you hear another audio ad, again, 30 seconds or 60 seconds, it varies. That would be called a post-roll advertising opportunity. So pre, mid, and post, those are common terms that you will hear if you’re looking to monetize your podcast or advertising.

Now if we break that down even more, there are really two ways that you can currently leverage audio ads within your podcast, and the first is through something that’s called host-read ad opportunities. Host read ads are exactly what it sounds like. You or your host actually reads the audio advertisement and it’s part of the episode.

So you see this a lot with Tim Ferris, where he is actually reading the ad within his podcast. That’s called host read ads. Now, there are positives and negatives for both host-read ads and then something else that I’ll talk about, which is called dynamic ad insertion. But for host-read ads, there’s limitations as it relates to who will work with particular creators and at what size. So really, the bare minimum is about 20,000 downloads or streams per month. So your podcast needs to be pretty large, and this would fall into really the top 5% of all podcasts out there that really can generate 20,000 downloads a month. And for those, they can actually leverage host-read ads through agencies or through Sounder or through other ways where you can actually work with big brands. Positives with host-read is you can get more revenue per thousand impressions and within the advertising industry that’s called CPM, so cost per thousand impressions and we’re seeing anywhere from $11 to $75 CPM that publishers can receive or creators can receive, based upon their content, the amount of downloads they have, the advertiser demand, there’s a lot of different variables there, but this tends to generate higher revenue for creators.

Podcast Monetization (Dynamic Ad Insertion)

Now the second way that you can monetize your podcast is through something that’s called DAI. And DAI stands for Dynamic Ad Insertion and Dynamic Ad Insertion is exactly how it sounds, ads are dynamically inserted into your podcast, whether it be pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll, as I discussed previously, and instead of you spending the time reading the ad, or your host reading the ad, this uses programmatic technology that will programmatically and dynamically insert audio ads to a specific listener, based upon different types of demographics or location, or other targeting capabilities. Dynamic Ad Insertion is really for both small and large creators. Historically, only host-read ads was an opportunity for podcast creators, which limited the amount of revenue, if not all, that the smaller podcast creators could generate. And one of the things that Sounder.fm is doing, is we want to democratize audio advertising and offer both host-read ad opportunities, as well as Dynamic Ad Insertion based upon how large or how small your podcast is. So if you only had 10 downloads, you can still monetize your podcast through Sounder by allowing Sounder to dynamically insert audio ads into your content, pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll.

If you’re on Sounder and you have over 20,000 downloads a month, we can also work with you in two ways. One is host-read ad opportunities, and two is through Dynamic Ad Insertion or a combination of the two.

So as it exists today, we are starting to see audio monetization become much bigger than it ever was before, because the market is expanding as it relates to new advertisers, new publishers, more listeners, and then technology like Sounder’s to make it easy for anyone regardless of size, to monetize their podcast.

Monetize a Podcast Through Transcriptions

Now, let’s go over to subscriptions. Let’s say you do not want to monetize your podcast through audio ads, you actually want to develop and continue to develop high quality content, but maybe some of that content you want your listeners to pay for, or maybe all of the content you want your listeners to pay for. So this would be more of a subscription base, where you don’t serve audio ads, but you make money through having your listeners upgrade to get access to your premium content.

There are really a couple ways to do this. today. There are a lot more software providers out there that will make it easy for you to monetize your podcast through subscriptions. I think the largest right now is really Patreon and patreon.com allows not just podcast creators, but all creators to monetize through subscription based services. So that’s one that we recommend.

The second that is more specific to podcasts is a company called glow.fm. and glow.fm also makes it easy for a podcast creator to monetize their podcast through monthly subscriptions. So this is pretty straightforward. In the United States, we are seeing less podcasts being monetized through subscriptions, and more through audio advertising. But in China, on the other hand, that’s a $7 billion a year industry where culturally they don’t want to see audio ads, they would rather pay 2, 3, 4 dollars a month to have access to content that does not have audio ads. So it really depends on where you are within the world.

As it relates to Sounder, we see a much larger opportunity in democratizing audio advertising, which will expand the market and specifically within the US and Europe, you’re going to see more audio advertising and less subscription monetization.

Monetize a Podcast Through Services

And then finally, there is a third way to monetize your podcast, where maybe you don’t want to have audio ads, you don’t want to have a subscription based platform, or opportunity. The third is offering your content for free, but use this as more of a marketing tool to increase x. So x could be selling more products, selling more books, filling the top of your lead funnel, whatever it might be. We’re seeing a lot of b2b and even b2c companies start to use podcasts as a way to sell more x. So that would be really on the services side, you could actually do a combination of all three, if you wanted to. Maybe you wanted to have a pre-roll of audio advertising, and then maybe for some content, you want to have subscriptions, and then maybe all the time you want it to just increase your top of the lead funnel and sell additional services.

Hopefully this was helpful as a how to monetize your podcast 101. Again, this will be posted on our blog and please feel free to comment or ask any questions.

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