The Power Of Endorsement-Style Podcast Advertising
I recently purchased something I hadn’t used in several years because of a podcast ad. Every week I’d hear the hosts of Who? Weekly, Lindsey and Bobby, talk about Quip and its benefits in between discussions of D-List celebrities’ hijinks. Every week I’d think, “Oh yeah, I used to have an electric toothbrush and I really liked it…too bad I left it in that cab in Boston” (long story). Finally, after hearing the hosts endorse Quip for several weeks, I made the purchase using a promo code they provided. I love my new electric toothbrush, and I should’ve bought it sooner — but the only reason I did was because Lindsey and Bobby told me to.
Endorsement-style advertising on podcasts is effective for some of the same reasons radio hosts’ endorsements are — just more powerful. For one thing, podcast listeners tend to be more engaged with the medium in general. Radio’s often on when people are doing other things, whether commuting, completing chores, or waiting in line at the DMV. Whatever messages are broadcast fade into the background, sublimated to the ambient noise of everyday life. Podcast listeners deliberately seek out the podcasts they listen to; they are automatically more engaged with the medium, even if it serves as background noise for working, subway riding, or laundry folding. For example, I’ve been listening to one podcast, Baby Geniuses, since 2012. In its earliest days, I bookmarked their Tumblr page and refreshed endlessly when new episodes were supposed to be posted. I stuck with the pod as they transitioned to a proper network (Maximum Fun) and retooled the format, and now an app automatically aggregates new episodes for me. Though I might’ve initially stumbled upon it, once I started listening, I got into it. I developed a kind of relationship with the podcast — and a parasocial relationship with its hosts.
Which brings me to my next point: the increased authority and trustworthiness of podcast hosts as endorsers. Growing up, I was obsessed with AM/FM radio (feel old yet?) and in particular the station Z100 New York (“New York’s #1 hit music station!”). It was standard pop fare, ear candy for an awkward tween. But what made it memorable was its morning show, presided over by Elvis Duran and a crew of big personalities. I’d listen every morning en route to school. I loved the DJs’ comedic banter and interviews with music stars. Yes, they even did a prank call segment that I enjoyed more than I should have. But outside the times I heard them on terrestrial radio, I never thought about the hosts. They were disembodied voices that soundtracked car rides and introduced pop songs.
In contrast, as a podcast listener I feel deeply invested in hosts, their POVs and their lives off-mic. Let’s return to my triumphant Quip purchase. Did I want to improve my oral health? Yes. Did I have the means to buy this new toothbrush? Absolutely. But would I have pulled the trigger without Bobby personally vouching for the product? Probably not. Ultimately, I trusted him. Through listening to Who? Weekly, I know his opinion on Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter feed — but I also know about his cats, his favorite foods, and his college major. Thanks to his social media posts, I know he and his husband’s first date was at The Meatball Shop and they celebrate anniversaries there. Do I spend too much time stalking strangers online? Clearly. But the point is, the trust and respect I’d developed for Bobby made him a more capable endorser — and got me to tip over from prospect to customer. Knowing he used Quip and stood behind the brand made me feel more confident in taking action.
To be clear, not all podcast (or radio) ads delivered by hosts are endorsements. As Forbes explains, there’s more than one way to advertise via audio, and not every ad necessarily contains a personal testimonial about the product/service. But when a podcast host is willing to endorse something, that ad can resonate strongly with their audience and feels more “native” to the content than produced ones. The overall result is organic compared to traditional advertising, like your good friend making a recommendation. So if you’re reassessing your advertising strategy, consider the power of endorsement-style podcast ads. It could be just the jolt your business needs. And if you require copy, Write Label’s writers are well-versed in the conversational style of endorsement ads for audio.