Podcast Advertising

When Apple enabled support for content/ad blockers in iOS 9 it set off a firestorm of thoughts an opinions on whether using an ad blocker is ethical or not. This also sparked some conversation about podcast advertisements and people who skip them. I do skip podcast advertisements, and I’ll explain when and why.

I listen to podcasts a lot. They have been the chosen audio for my commutes for probably 7 years now. Listening on 1.25x speed allows me get through approximately two hours of content per day on my commute. I also mix-in podcast listening at other times, such as mowing the lawn or working out. At this point all of the podcasts I listen to are supported by advertisements, usually “live reads” by the hosts about a product/service. I usually skip these advertisements, but there are exceptions.

For instance, I never skip over an ad for a product or service I haven’t heard of before. The companies that advertise on podcasts are for the most part companies that are not well known and established (part of this is that they are savvy enough to know this is an untapped market, and also because it’s probably cheaper) so it’s more likely that it will be a company I haven’t heard of before. The other reason for skipping known services is that if I am interested in it, I am probably already using it, meaning the affiliate code they provided won’t work for me (since generally the codes only work for new customers), or it’s something I am not interested in because if I was I would be using it already. If I ever decide to use a service that I have heard advertised on a podcast I will go back and find the code so that I can give them some love.

I can only hear the advertisements for Squarespace or Draft Kings/Fan Duel so many times. Squarespace is a great service, but I have been well aware of them for years and it’s not something I am interested in. I am not going to spend 30 seconds listening to an ad for a service I don’t need. Other instances, like Dollar Shave Club, are products I have used in the past and am no longer interested in.

Bill Simmons has had Stamps.com as a sponsor for years. The good news for him is that I checked out their services for the first time ever after hearing him read their copy. The bad news is that I didn’t sign up because it was not something I found worth the money. And here is the catch–22 with podcast advertising. Sponsors base their decisions on whether to re-up with how many sales they make, not how many people hear their ads. So even though I went to Stamps.com and checked out their service, Simmons doesn’t get any credit for that. Just listening to the ad alone does nothing for podcasts. In fact, in most cases, even downloading the podcast doesn’t do a whole lot.

With that in mind, it seems silly to listen to advertisements for products/services I have heard of before that I know I am not interested in. I wish the model was better, so that it was easier to support great shows.