Podcast Marketing Made Simple

Should we add a podcast to our content-marketing strategy? If so, do we pursue a branded podcast or in-podcast advertising? Stay tuned as we take a deep dive into everything you need to know about podcast marketing and how you can yield podcast marketing success. 

podcast marketing

First Of All, Why Podcasts?

It’s important to realize why so many brands are taking advantage of podcast marketing opportunities. It all has to do with numbers. The popularity of podcasts among Americans only continues to increase. According to the 2019 Podcast Consumer report, 51% of Americans have listened to a podcast. That’s equivalent to 144 million Americans.¹ 

And, if you’re worried that listeners will just ignore your message, then do I have good news for you! NPR found that roughly 75% of people listening took action on a sponsored message.²

Branded Podcasts vs Podcast Advertising

There are essentially two different podcast marketing strategies. Both of these options require different tactics and even yield various results. Keep reading to learn which tactic is ideal for your brand. 

What Are Branded Podcasts

If done successfully, a branded podcast isn’t just a 30-minute advertisement for a brand. Instead, it is a branded story that your audience wants to hear. This marketing strategy allows brands to connect with listeners in a whole new way.

Carolyn Walker, CEO & Managing Partner at Response, explains that this approach allows a company to, “Build their brand by connecting to their audience in a meaningful way with an original, branded podcast that is well-produced and tells a great story(ies).”


One of the best ways to learn is by learning from what others have done. McDonald’s and GE are just two brands who have seen success with their branded podcasts. Their podcasts have given these brands an opportunity to engage with their audience in a way that traditional podcast ads might not. One thing that both of the podcasts have in common is their creativity.

podcast marketing

“The Sauce” By McDonald’s

McDonald’s took a lesson from the popular podcast “Serial” to develop their own true-crime drama investigation. In 2018, they released a three-part podcast that investigated the madness their brand faced in regards to the Szechuan Sauce debacle.⁴ This podcast shows us that with some brainstorming you can address a PR crisis to the masses in a creative and extremely transparent way.

Check out McDonald’s “The Sauce” here.

“The Message” and “LifeAfter” By GE

Back in 2015, General Electric launched its first-ever branded podcast entitled “The Message.” This was an eight-part science fiction podcast that engaged listeners with its’ journalistic format. Following this, the brand launched a sequel, “LifeAfter.” Throughout the fictional series, scientists use technology sold by GE to decode extraterrestrial messages.

Check out this captivating series here.

Is It Right For My Brand?

Carolyn explains that podcasting doesn’t always fit with every brand’s marketing strategy. You shouldn’t go into the podcast space just because every other business is. It’s important to remember that creating or participating in a podcast needs to be a strategic decision.

Carolyn elaborated, “A branded podcast should be looked at as a top of funnel content marketing tool that can drive positive brand sentiment and perception (if it’s done right). For companies focused on NPS (Net Promoter Score), they should be seriously evaluating a branded podcast as part of their content marketing plans.”

A Deep Look Into Developing A Branded Podcast

McAfee's Hackable? Podcast

Carolyn with Response is extremely passionate about podcasts and we are extremely grateful that she was willing to work with us to provide all these amazing insights. You can learn more about Response and their podcast case study here. 

“We thought that doing a consumer podcast was our chance to intimately connect McAfee to their audience by entertaining and educating them using a relatively new and uncluttered medium.”

    – Carolyn Walker, CEO & Managing Partner, Response

Response has been working with McAfee for nearly a decade. But, one of the greatest struggles they’ve faced has been creating an engaging conversation around the topic of digital security. That was until Response went to McAfee with the idea of developing a podcast.

Carolyn said, “We thought that doing a consumer podcast was our chance to intimately connect McAfee to their audience by entertaining and educating them using a relatively new and uncluttered medium.”

Developing Goals

Just like any marketing strategy, it is crucial to determine your goals. According to Carolyn, these were the goals Response had for this podcast.

  1. Heighten McAfee’s leadership position in cyber-security
  2. Enhance positive feelings about the McAfee brand to influence customer loyalty and NPS
  3. Make complex cyber-security issues accessible and entertaining, while providing clear information and education
  4. Leave the audience smarter than when they arrived

McAfee's Hackable? Podcast

Creating A Concept

The concept is arguably one of the most important aspects when it comes to developing a podcast. According to Podcast Statistics, as of 2019, there are more than 700,000 active podcasts. However, when you look at the total number of podcast episodes you are looking at more than 29 million episodes.⁶  With this many podcasts, it is crucial that you develop an idea that will capture attention and engage listeners.

Carolyn explained, “We set out to create audio storytelling that would be entertaining, educational, and brand building. We partnered with Pacific Content for production, given their experience and expertise in painting the most vivid stories in audio.”

“We set out to create audio storytelling that would be entertaining, educational and brand building.”

– Carolyn Walker, CEO & Managing Partner, Response

In the end, Response created a very unique show format for McAfee. It was a unique combination of pop culture, MythBusters, and consumer security advocacy. The final result was a show entitled, “Hackable?”.

You can listen to McAfee’s Hackable? podcast here.

Launching The Podcast

Even if you define your goals and create an amazing concept, the podcast can’t be successful without a marketing plan in place for its launch. So, how did Carolyn and her team go about marketing this new podcast?

Carolyn provided insight that advertising a podcast to non-podcast listeners can sometimes be an uphill battle. This was why their team decided to focus on individuals who already listen to podcasts.

She explained, “We built a 360 marketing plan with a heavy emphasis on in-podcast “advertising” and social media. In-podcast advertising was critical to our success. It’s less like advertising and more like authentic endorsements from the host.”

In addition to this, for their social media advertising, they specifically targeted individuals who expressed a podcast interest.

McAfee's Hackable? Podcast

The Results?

Defined goals, a great concept, and a well-executed marketing plan all worked together to allow Response and McAfee to create a successful podcast. So successful that Hackable? is in the top 1% of all podcasts ever produced with millions of downloads and 100k+ subscribers.

The world is hungry for more podcasts, and marketers have the opportunity to bring content to listeners in more creative ways than ever before. Branded podcasts are a great option for many companies, but it’s important to remember that they don’t just happen. If you want to see success, get creative and be prepared to put in the work.

A Breakdown: In-Podcast Advertising

So, maybe developing a branded podcast doesn’t fit with your brand. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely cross out podcasts off of your marketing plan. Consider buying ad space during a podcast rather than developing your own branded podcast. And, if you’re hesitant about this strategy it’s important to know that many podcast listeners don’t mind the ads. In fact, a Nielsen study found that 78% of listeners approve of podcast sponsors.³

“If done right, in-podcast advertising can be more like content and less like an ad.”

    – Carolyn Walker, CEO & Managing Partner, Response

Carolyn explains, “If done right, in-podcast advertising can be more like content and less like an ad. While there is a big move towards programmatic in podcast advertising, we see the value in working directly with the shows and hosts to develop high impact creative that comes across as a segment of the show, and less like a commercial break.”

Creating Effective Ads 

Just like when you develop a branded podcast, there are a few things to keep in mind if you plan to buy ad space during podcasts. Consider these tips when developing a podcast advertisement.


There are three types of ad slots that marketers can choose from: pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll. Research shows that if you put your ad in the mid-roll you may have more success. During this time, you will have the full attention of the podcast listeners. However, it’s important to remember that for the most part, the mid-roll slot is the most expensive option.


Podcasting is unique in that many times the host delivers the ad. Consider taking advantage of this opportunity. If you’re thinking about submitting a prerecorded ad, reconsider the pros and cons. One major perk of have the host read your ad is that it doesn’t disrupt the flow of the podcast. It may be this very reason why many podcast listeners don’t mind the ads.


There are such a wide variety of podcasts, and it’s important to recognize that not every podcast will be a fit for your brand. Do the research beforehand. This will make sure you are advertising on a podcast that makes sense for your brand.

Need Extra Assistance?

To all the marketers interested in implementing podcast marketing in your marketing plan, talk to your agencies. If you are in need of some extra creative brainpower head over to Agency Spotter to find your ideal content marketing agency. Search by location, budget, service, industry experience, and so much more.

Learn More

Check out these podcasts for some more insights about Agency Spotter from CEO Brian Regienczuk.


¹ Edison Research | ² National Public Media | ³ Marketing Dive | ⁴ Forbes | ⁵ Apple Podcast | ⁶ Podcast Statistics (2019)

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Nicole Schuster
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