Podcast Advertising: The Complete Guide


Podcast Advertising: The Complete Guide

Everything You Need to Know to Sell Ads on Your Podcast

February 9, 2023 • About 22 min. read

Want to learn about podcast advertising? You have come to the right place.

Podcasting is a labor of love. You put a lot of work into creating content you are passionate about and great sounding audio. 

But that labor isn’t free. 😩

Sometimes it’s nice to recoup some of the money you have spent on the cost of podcasting. Sometimes it’s nice to have your podcast also act as a revenue stream for you

That’s why we’ve put together this guide. We’re going to cover everything podcasters need to know about podcast advertising. 💪

Here’s the guide outline:

Keep in mind we are only going to highlight the basics, but you can find in-depth info about everything we talk about in our other deep-dive blog posts.

Ready? Let’s begin.

The Fundamental Concept 

The foundation of podcast advertising is simple. Businesses want to reach potential customers and convince them to buy their product or trust their brand. As a podcaster, you provide access to those potential customers, your loyal listeners. 

Advertising is all about the audience. Never lose sight of that. 👀

Growing your audience is not separate from selling ads. Creating loyal listeners is not separate from cultivating target demographics for advertisers. People are the heart of the podcast advertising. 💜

Key Terms

Sometimes the best way to start learning about something new is to read through key terms. So, without further ado, here are some terms that will help you understand the podcast ad industry world.


CPM stands for Cost Per Mille. As you Latin scholars out there may know, ‘mille’ means one thousand. So CPM means cost per thousand. 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣

CPM is a common term across different kinds of media marketing– sometimes it refers to post views, search listings, etc. But in the podcast advertising industry, it stands for downloads.

CPM means cost per thousand downloads. 

The general rule of thumb is that the average podcast CPM is somewhere around $15 – $30. That means for every 1,000 downloads, the advertiser will pay you $15-$30. However, the CPM rate usually differs based on where the ad is placed in the episode. Some ad spaces are higher than others… we will cover that in the Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll, Post-Roll section below.


CPA stands for “Cost per Acquisition.” Like CPM, this acronym is used widely across media marketing– sometimes it refers to acquiring website visitors or obtaining email addresses, but it has a specific meaning in podcast advertising world.

In podcasting, Cost Per Acquisition means money made through referral links. Basically, you, the podcaster, get some money from a company if a listener purchases the company’s product using your referral link. 💵

This is an attractive payment deal for advertisers because they only have to pay you if someone actually purchases the advertised product. For podcasters who are just starting their show, it can be a good deal too. That way you can start bringing in money, even if you do not have a thousand listeners yet.

Flat Rate

Flat rate is exactly what it sounds like it is. The advertiser pays the podcaster a flat rate to advertise on the show. It does not matter how many listeners you have or how many products you sale through your referral link, you get paid the same flat rate. ⚖️

Pre-Roll, Mid-Roll, Post-Roll 

There are different slots in which to advertise in an episode.

There is space before the episode kicks off, a break in the middle of the episode, and space at the end of an episode. Hence: Pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. Usually mid-roll ads are the most expensive, then pre-roll ads, then post-roll. 

Mid-rolls spots are considered to be best because advertisers find that listeners to podcasts pay more attention to podcast paid ads in the middle of an episode. Brands are more confident that their promotion in this slot will actually reach the target audience. 🎯

Listeners often have their hands full doing something while they listen to the podcast so they aren’t likely to skip ahead.

Pre-roll space is of medium value because even though audio listeners are more likely to click ‘skip ahead’ when they have just clicked ‘play,’ more people do listen to the beginning of a downloaded podcast episode than the end of one.

That is also why post-roll ads are considered the least valuable– there is natural audio listener loss over the span of a downloaded episode. ⏳


An ad campaign is time-limited ad effort with specific branding and goals. 

For example, an aquarium may have an ad campaign featuring their sharks for a month, focused on getting little kids excited to come in and see them. Then, for another month, it may have an ad campaign featuring their work on rehabilitating injured animals, convincing a young adult demographic to visit the aquarium as well as to donate to the program. 

Maybe your podcast wouldn’t be a good fit for the aquarium’s campaign that targets shark-loving kids, but it would be a good fit for the campaign that targets young adults. That’s why it is important to break down advertising by campaigns– your podcast might not be the best fit for all of a business’s advertising, but it might be an excellent fit for a few of the campaigns! 💪

Branded Podcasts

Sometimes an entire podcast is a type of ad. These are called branded podcasts. Their effectiveness is measured by podcast ROI.

Example of a branded podcast: REI has a podcast series called Wild Ideas Worth Living where the outdoor gear company grows it brand by talking about how great the outdoors is.

Sometimes corporations or even small brands decide to do a branded podcast instead of buying advertising space on other podcasts. 🌲

How Many Downloads Do I Need to Start Selling Ads?

A lot of podcasters hesitate to start selling advertising on their show because they do not know how they stack up to other podcasts in terms of listener downloads. After all, you do not want to approach a potential ad buyer if you do not feel confident in what you have to offer. 😎

However, there is no one simple answer to this question. That is why we will go over a few different answers to help you decide the right thing for your individual situation and show. For more information check out our blog post called “How Many Podcast Downloads are Good.”

Zero Downloads – Affiliate Links

Even if you are just starting to build your listener base, you can still do a CPA model of podcast advertising– referral links. The advertising company does not have to pay you for the advertising space. They only have to pay you a percentage of what you help them sell through referral links. Zero risk for the advertiser and zero stress on you to prove you have a certain amount of downloads. 💆‍♀️

Small but Mighty – Highly Targeted Audience

What you may not have in download volume, you can make up for in specific quality.

Let’s say you have a podcast about fly fishing. You only have about 200 downloads per episode, but a lot of listeners use your referral links, open your podcast newsletter, and interact with podcast social media. Or maybe those 200 listeners have been loyal listeners for a year– obviously they value what you have to say. 😍

Those 200 listeners would be a very valuable advertising audience for a fly fishing store. So, in that case, do not worry about your total number of downloads or listeners, just show the company that you have a pocket of very likely customers.

Top Percentile of Shows

Only the owners of a podcast RSS feed know exactly how many downloads they get. That means there is not much good overall data that you can compare your downloads to. However, two hosting platforms do release cumulative download numbers for shows hosted on their site. 🔢

According to them, if you get 30 downloads in the first seven days after you drop an episode, or 150 after forty-five days, you are in the top 50% of podcasts in terms of downloads. If you get 400 downloads in the first seven days after you drop an episode, or 3,500 after forty-five days, you are in the top 90% of podcasts.

Now, this data is flawed, obviously. For example, it does not include podcasts that are hosted on Spotify, a huge listening platform. BUT– It can give you a general idea of what you goals can be. Imagine going to an advertiser and being able to say, according to these two sources, my podcast audience is in the top 50% of all podcasts in terms of audience size! 🤓

YouTube Ads – 1,000 Subscribers

Another source of podcast advertising that we definitely cannot leave out of this guide is YouTube ads. If your podcast is not on YouTube yet, consider starting your podcast on YouTube today.

If you get 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 of watched hours on your YouTube channel over the past year, you start getting a percentage of the revenue from the ads that run before, during, and after your show. Definitely doable! 🥳

Value of Podcast Advertising

Podcast advertising is uniquely valuable in three ways: The demographics of podcast listeners, the accessibility of podcasts, the heightened engagement with podcast content. Let’s break those three down.

Demographics 🫶

Podcast listeners represent some of the most desired demographics for advertisers. Podcast listeners tend be educated, employed, and affluent. Most have college degrees and make at least $75,000 per year.

The gender breakdown across the board is 50-50, though advertisers can definitely find shows that cater almost exclusively to men or women.

Podcasts listenership is growing in Black and Spanish-speaking communities, with some shows specifically targeting this audience.

Overall, not only are podcast listeners made up of excellent potential customers, but advertisers can specifically target audiences in great detail based on specific shows.

Accessibility ✌️

Podcasts and podcast ads can go places that a lot of media cannot.

It only takes a brief, weak internet connection to download the small audio file of each episode. This opens the medium up for people in underdeveloped areas.

Podcasting also bypasses the obstacle of screen fatigue that so many of us in developed areas struggle with. And of course it is a great medium for people who have reading processing issues, vision impairment, and sensitivity to over-stimulation.

Plus, podcasts and their ads really can be consumed anywhere. Busy people can listen while they cook, exercise, or commute.

Engagement 🤝

In a world inundated with content, exposure does not matter as much as authentic engagement. Research shows podcasts are a space for high quality engagement.

For example, a neuroscience study in 2019 showed that podcast listeners who were active while listening scored high on brand engagement, emotional intensity, and long-term memory of the brand.

Other studies show that listeners view podcasts as a safe space where they can relax, enjoy, and learn new things.

Types of Ads

There are three main types of podcast ads.

Host-Read Ad

As a podcast host, you’re a big deal! Your listeners love and trust you. 🥰

That’s why brands want you to read their ads to your audience. You may read them as part of recording your episode or separately, depending on what the agreement is. Typically the promotion is more effective if you, the host, has tried the product or brand and can vouch for it.


Here’s an example of a host read ad from Joe Rogan on his Spotify show:

“Hello, friends. Welcome to the show. This episode of the podcast is brought to you by Express VPN. If you’re one of those people like to travel abroad, there’s a lot of things on your checklist pack, but, what’s probably missing, is one app that’s going to keep you safe and secure when you’re online, if you’re away and that’s Express VPN.

Express VPN doesn’t just encrypt your data while you surf the internet on public airport or hotel, Wi Fi, but it lets you stream and access content that normally would have been blocked in that country with Express VPN. You can unblock all your favorite websites and have access to the internet just like you would it at home.

Express VPN, runs in the background of your computer or phone and then, when you use the internet just do you normally would you you can get away with a lot more. You could download the app click to connect and voila your are connected.

I don’t go online when I’m traveling without Express VPN and you shouldn’t either. It protects your data, your passwords and it is the fastest VPN I’ve tried. It cost less than seven dollars a month and it comes with a thirty day money back guarantee.

ExpressVPN then uses new cutting edge technology called trusted server to make there’s no logs of what you do online, no matter what. Trying to browse online? Express VPN gives you instant access all over the world. Don’t travel anywhere this summer without downloading Express VPN, protect your online activity today.

Find out how you can get three months for free at Express vpn dot com, Slash Rogan, that’s e, x, p, r e s, s v, p, n dot com, Slash Rogan for three months free with a one year package visit, Express VPN, dot com, Slash Rogan, to learn more.”

Sponsored Segment

A sponsored segment is when a special, repeating part of a show is sponsored by a business or organization. Usually the segment is somehow related to the product or brand the podcast sponsors want to promote. 🔥

Let’s say you host a podcast about local art in your region. You could have a segment called “Fresh and Ready” that focuses on a new talent in the area, and it could be sponsored by a pizza restaurant. There may only be a line or two of promotional material for the company, but listeners appreciate and remember them for supporting that segment of the show.


Here’s an example from Science Magazine’s podcast. This is the just the intro, but you get the point:

Hello to our podcast listeners, and welcome to this custom sponsored interview from the Science AAAS Custom Publishing Office, and brought to you by Michelson Philanthropies. My name is Jackie Oberst and I’m assistant editor for Custom Publishing and Science. Today we’ll be talking about immunology, disease, and how funding for early career
researchers can make a difference.

Radio Ad

A radio ad is an ad that can be plugged in just about anywhere. It isn’t read by a host. It isn’t related to the content of the show in any direct way. It is probably what you think of as a typical ad– like a TV commercial that plays during different shows. 🎙️


Here’s an example from Ad Results Media for AllTrails:

A nature trail is more than a path. It’s a place for weekend laughter, moments of quiet self-reflection, or a much-needed breath of fresh air. With AllTrails+, you can plan your next hike, ride, or run with confidence, so you can relax and enjoy the journey.

Whether you’re looking for a laid-back walk with family or something more adventurous to get your heartpumping, AllTrails+ gives you all the info you need in one place, so you can make the most of your time outdoors.

Quickly discover new trails near you to spend less time driving and more time on the trail with the Distance Away feature. And get immersive trail previews and 3D views so you know what to expect before your first step.

Want to go where cell service can’t? Download the map to keep your route on hand and never get lost, even offline. You can even get alerts if you take an unexpected turn.

There’s a trail out there for everyone. Get outside today with three free months of AllTrails+. Just use code PODCAST23 at all trails dot com slash podcast. That’s three months free at all trails dot com slash podcast with code PODCAST23.

Critical Tools

Ok, now that we’ve got a good start on some of the basic terms, let’s look at the critical tools in podcast advertising. 💰

Dynamic Ad Insertion 

This is probably the most important podcast advertising tool created to date. In the old days of podcasts (like a few years ago), ads had to be in the same media file of the podcast. They were baked-in. There was no way to go back and insert ads in an old episode. This wasn’t great because as podcasts gained new fans and those fans downloaded old episodes, there was no way to advertise to them in the old episodes

Now with dynamic ad insertion tools, ads can be inserted into old episodes. Ad campaigns could also be set to run for a set amount of time, and then be automatically replaced by different ads. The dynamic insertion tool has given podcasters the ability to leverage their old episodes and maximize future ones.


With Ausha, you can set Dynamic Ad from your Ausha Manager. Create and manage your own advertising campaigns in our tool and easily analyze your results. Collect 100% of the revenue you generate. 🚀

Audio to Video Transformation

Countless internet platforms rank video content over text-only or audio-only content. If you want people to find your podcast, if you really want any reach at all, you MUST have video content. This is especially true as YouTube (part of Google) plans to become a top site for podcasts. 

But what if you don’t have the resources to produce video for each show? And what about all those great past audio episodes? Never fear, audio to video tools are here! 🎬

These tools will transform your audio episode into a video episode, often by using waveform visuals along with the show’s cover art. That means no extra time or work on your part!

With Ausha, you can automatically transform your audio to video and get your podcast discovered on the 2nd biggest world search engine. 🔥


Data Analysis

Advertisers want to ensure that your show has the target audience they are looking for, and they want to ensure that those people actually heard the ad. The most effective way, perhaps the ONLY effective way, to provide this assurance to advertisers is through data analysis. 📈 

You need to make sure your podcast hosting platform gathers good data about the people who listen to your podcast. 🎧 The best hosting platforms will integrate data from all kinds of distribution sites, social media, and YouTube. Ideally your tool will be able display that information in a logical, attractive format that you can show advertisers.

👉 It is critical that your hosting platform is IAB-certified. IAB stands for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. It is the organization that creates standards for digital advertising, like what counts as a download, what counts as an ad view, etc. Your hosting platform being IAB-certified means that the data you give to advertisers is accurate and they can trust them.



Since your audience is your advertising value, it is important to never stop growing your own audience. That means you should never stop promoting your own podcast. 📣

There are a lot of helpful promotion tools out there today that past podcasters could only dream of: Integrated social media, email, website tools that build on each other to help people find and then fall in love with your show. 

The costs of promoting your show are simply investments in your advertising revenue stream! Promote, promote, promote! 💪


Joining Podcast Networks for Advertising

“Mmm it’s always better when we’re together…” is that a Jack Johnson lyric or the underlying concept of podcast networks? It’s both! 🎵

Podcast networks are groups of podcasts that come together to do more than what they could do as individual podcasts. 

Some podcast networks are pretty lowkey and simple. They focus on mutual promotion, learning from each other, and low level cost-sharing.

Some are more intense. These networks tend to be where the big ad-buying business deals get done. Think: SXM Media, Audacity, Spotify, Wondery, Podcast One, iHeart Radio, etc.

Large brands want to be able to go to one spot and buy marketing space over different shows, ensuring they reach as many people in their target demographic as possible. This is the key service that a modern podcast network provides. 😁

Remember the Dynamic Ad Insertion tool? A podcast network can use that tool to place ads in different podcasts.

These groups tend to have requirements like a certain number of downloads per month, cover a certain type of content, etc. In return, the podcaster gets a piece of the large revenue pie.

Of course, networks also get paid a percentage of the advertising money. So that is a potential drawback to joining one.

How to Get an Advertising Deal for Your Podcast

We can hear you now: “Ok, all of this is nice information, but how do I actually get money in my pocket.” You are 100% right. Advertisers aren’t going to magically show up to your doorstep. You have to go out and make the marketing deal happen.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Research

This is the most important step. What is a better overall fit for your podcast right now: Joining a podcast network or going solo? 🤔

If it is joining a network, which network? Find out: What are their requirements? What are their benefits? What kind of other shows are already in the group?

If you think that it is better for you not to join a network, what businesses’ have a target demographic that matches your listening audience? Who at the company should you contact? Where are they currently advertising their brand and how does your podcast stack up to those spots?

Step 2: Make Your Case

You’ve done your research. You’ve made a list of the top businesses you want to contact. Or, if you have decided to go the network route, you’ve made a list of the top networks you want to contact. Now you just have to do it. But how?

Email is probably your best bet. 💌 Keep it short, but thorough. Show the numbers about your audience and how it overlaps perfectly with who they are probably targeting for ads. Be sure to mention that your data is IAB-certified (assuming you are using an IAB certified hosting platform like Ausha). Show them that you know your stuff, but don’t throw around too much jargon.

Close the email with an offer to speak over the phone in order to get to know each other better and discuss how your podcast ad space can help them achieve their goals.

Step 3: Contract

Let’s say that after some back and forth, the network or the business say yes. Yayyyy! 🥳 Definitely time to do a happy dance. But don’t celebrate too much, too soon. Now it is time to put together the contract details.

Most networks and businesses have their own template contracts that they want to use. That’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you read any contract thoroughly. Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. Check out all the details: What is expected of you? When? How?

Once both sides feel good about the contract, it is time to sign and celebrate! 👏👏👏

Keep Promoting Your Own Podcast

Sometimes when podcasters start to sell advertising, they get so wrapped up in it that they forget to promote their own show. Remember, the service you provide to brands is access to your audience– you always want to be taking action to attract and retain your audience!

Don’t forget your own brand! Don’t forget to advertise your own show! Keep sharing your work far and wide! 🌎

If you can keep growing your own show while also securing advertising dollars, your podcasting future will be very bright.

Final Thoughts on Podcast Advertising

Getting paid for your podcasting is awesome, no doubt. Just keep in mind that it can take time.

Anyone who does any kind of sales will tell you: You will get told no a lot. A LOT. So be prepare to brush it off and keep going. Be confident in your product. You are providing an excellent service for businesses looking to connect with listeners. Don’t forget that. 😎

Be sure to ask fellow podcasters what has worked well for them and learn from their experiences. The types of people who born naturals for making podcasts are usually not the born natural types for being sales people– you are not alone, there are others facing the same struggle as you!

Also, keep in mind that once you get one company to buy advertising, others will be more likely to follow their example. That is why you may want to offer special deals for the first company to advertise their brand on your show. For example: Buy one ad spot, get one free. Or offer that if they buy the marketing space, you will create the host read ad for free. 🎙️

We hope this guide is helpful for you on your podcast advertising journey! For more tips follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 🚀

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by Emma
February 9, 2023

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