Listener Ad Burnout: How to Manage Dynamically Inserted Headaches for Podcast Listeners

Or… How to work smarter with tune-in DAI

. 7 min read

How to work smarter with tune-in DAI

Opening Note: I am a huge proponent of Dynamic Ad Insertion and its ongoing evolution and effective use in regards to paid and promotional campaigns. What follows is my recommended best practice to target campaigns on a global scale while not alienating listeners outside of the primary US ad market.

As Pacific Content’s Audience Development and Paid Media Lead, I’ve spent a lot of time researching, strategizing and working with clients and ad sellers to optimize tune-in campaigns to find the best way to find new audiences for our client’s podcasts. What I’m about to describe is a recounting of a very specific occurrence of a poorly targeted and/or uncapped Dynamically Inserted Ad campaign and hopefully, as a network or advertiser, what you can do to lessen the ad burnout of your audience.

First, the scenario…

This example is from a listener in Canada (this is important to implement suggestions later on), but I’ve heard many stories like this from listeners and creators alike around the world.

Imagine you’ve found a new podcast (for the purpose of today’s example, a business podcast) with an extensive back catalog of engaging content. This is an exciting time! You have so many episodes ahead of you and are really loving the hosts and the story and… wait… a promo pops up that catches your ear. Not a problem because ads and promos run all the time on podcasts. Except… the content doesn’t really click for you. It’s a new true crime style podcast from this show’s network that mentions some really dark content… like… really dark.

But it’s okay — you heard it once, no worries. Except now, you hear it on every episode of the new podcast that you WANT to listen to. It’s not long before you start to dread this promo popping up. The content of the promo itself is very descriptive in nature, and could be triggering to many. You don’t know if it’s going to appear at the beginning of an episode, or right in the middle of it as you’re deeply invested in the flow of the podcast. It’s become a negative experience within an otherwise great show, and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the podcast that you want to listen to.

You’re burned out on it.

You’ve entered a very negative relationship with this promo for a podcast that you have no intention of listening to and you seemingly can’t get away from unless… you stop listening to the podcast that you were so excited about.

Before we get to what I believe is happening here and how networks and advertisers can help mitigate ad and promo burnout for their listeners, let’s talk about how Dynamically Inserted Ad campaigns work.

Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI)

Dynamic Ads are ads or promotions that are inserted into the framework of a podcast episode the instant a listener hits play or download.

All DAI platforms have some form of Priority level. This is usually based on a scale of:

  1. Direct Sale Paid Campaigns (highest) — Campaigns that are sold by a network to earn the podcast and network revenue.
  2. Programmatic Backfill (middle) — Campaigns that run ad creative across podcast categories utilizing different targeting mechanisms, but still earn the podcast or network revenue.
  3. Network Promotional Inventory (lowest) — Campaigns that are used at the discretion of the podcast or network to promote other network podcasts, crowdfunding campaigns, etc. These are used to promote indirect revenue opportunities and/or growth for other podcasts within a network.

For a more instructive and detailed look at how DAI actually works, visit this SoundsProfitable post “How Dynamic Ad Insertion Actually Works” by Bryan Barletta.

DAI Tools and Caps

A Dynamically Inserted Ad Campaign often has some of or all of the following options to change the delivery cadence of an ad or promo.

  1. Impressions — the base level of how often a campaign will run. These are often dealt with and sold in thousands. These can be delivered as fast as possible or spread out more evenly using the following options.
  2. Timeframe — the specific dates in which an ad can be heard.
  3. Audience Targeting — Featuring the ad in only specific podcasts that seem like an audience match for the advertiser. This can be one podcast or multiple across a network
  4. Frequency Capping — How often a unique listener will hear an ad during a specific time period.
  5. Geotargeting — Targeting against specific countries, regions, states or even down to the zip code.

Some technologies out there have even more targeting options like category, context, and audience demographic. But for the purpose of this post, we’ll stick with these five, because they are often the most accessible to manage.

What Could be Happening in the Opening Scenario?

In the previously mentioned scenario where a listener kept hearing the same promo over-and-over again, regardless of how many episodes they listened to, it is likely that campaign wasn’t properly utilizing all of the available tools the network team had available to them.

This scenario was witnessed on a large network and occurred outside the US Market (Canada to be exact). One that more than likely has multiple Direct Sale or Programmatic Paid campaigns in market. It is also likely that many of the advertisers have requested Geotargeting to deliver the ad campaigns exclusively to the US Market. This is not unusual, but means international markets like Canada would have more unsold inventory compared to their US counterparts, leaving more room for network promotions to run — frequently.

The above scenario was specifically a promotion for a new podcast available within the network. This is common practice, with networks running promos in “unsold inventory” to garner new audiences for their catalog of podcasts.

Another issue we run into in this scenario is that the content of the promo was not a great fit for the podcast it was running against. That’s not to say that a person who listens to a business podcast can’t or won’t listen to a true crime show. But is the audience crossover likely? No. Closer audience targeting could help prevent listener fatigue or annoyance from this campaign.

The problem here is that the ads were not being targeted to similarly appropriate content through Audience Targeting.

Narrow Your Target Audience!

A major part of podcast development and our Paid Media Strategies at Pacific Content is taking a look at our client’s goals to find the right audience for their podcast.. Usually, we want to reach a specific group of people — prospective clients, key decision makers or would-be investors. Once we have a sense of a client’s aims, we combine an editorial strategy and Audience Development plan to find and engage those exact audiences.

The same thought process can be applied to every podcast available today. What are the goals of putting out your podcast? And who do you envision listening?

Promoting your podcast after that becomes a strategy of finding podcasts that are similarly aligned based on content and context. Once you find a neighborhood for your podcast, you can more successfully find the right shows that already have the audience that you’re looking for.

But Aren’t Multiple Listening Occasions a Good Thing?

The short answer? Absolutely yes! 100 percent! But there’s a limit.

Even with the highest quality, most targeted creative, a listener will only reasonably need to hear an ad a certain number of times before making a decision to act.

Frequency Cap recommendations vary depending on the goals of the campaign, but a decent standard to follow in a 7 day window is as follows:

  • On first listen, a listener will hear the ad or promo, but likely not act.
  • On the second to third listen, that same listener will hear and register the ad and CTA.
  • On third to fifth listen, that same listener has already decided whether or not they will ever act on the CTA

When promoting a new podcast, either paid or by promotional inventory for a network, my experience as a media buyer with Pacific Content as well as running a podcast network I’ve found 3 to be the magic number. This gives an opportunity for listeners to hear the creative, acknowledge the creative and then decide whether they will listen to the new show. After that, they’ve either already converted OR they never will. And if the ad runs too many more times, you run the risk of annoying the listener and creating the opposite effect — the listener develops a negative association with the podcast you’re trying to promote.

The Takeaway

When promoting your podcast, it is important to know WHO your audience is. Once you know who they are it becomes easier to find where they are. But be careful not to annoy or antagonize them! On the very base level, setting your Frequency Cap is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. After every other level of targeting, Frequency Caps act as a goaltender for Listener Ad Burnout.

Are You Working Towards a New Podcast Launch?

Pacific Content’s Audience Development department are gigantic podcast nerds and work to help you find your show’s target audience and provide you with best practices for your Internal, Owned and Earned channels as well as setting your Paid Media strategy and plan to set your new podcast or season launch up for success.

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