Podcast Advertising for Mobile Games: New Marketing Tool or Fading Fad?
When it comes to mobile trends and monetization, game developers are at the forefront. Augmented reality, in-app purchases and mobile video ads are just a few areas where mobile game devs were early adopters. Still, one growing sector remains where they’ve yet to make an impact: podcasts.
Built on the success of large audience-attracting podcasts like Serial and WTF with Marc Maron, advertising on podcasts has increasingly piqued the interest of brands looking to reach a mobile audience. Podcast ads are typically 10 to 40 second, pre-recorded audio that are read, or acted out, by the host of a particular podcast. The ad usually describes the advertiser and often offers a promo code for listeners to use within the advertised product or service. The average CPM (cost per thousand) for a podcast ad ranges from $25 to $40—about two to three times the CPM of a radio ad.
While many devs may discount podcasting for the moment, the medium is expanding rapidly. Since every Apple iPhone or iPad with iOS 9 or greater comes pre-installed with its proprietary podcast app, podcasting is now embedded in the smartphone ecosystem. Rivals Google, Spotify, Acast and SoundCloud have already responded with their own podcasting services to appeal to the growing audience.
Before making the investment, devs should be aware of the pros and cons of podcast advertising:
Pro: Podcast ads are presented in a personal context
Podcast advertising achieves something that few ad formats do. According Oliver Deane, commercial digital director at Global Radio, a podcast ad can foster a highly personal connection between listener and advertiser.
“When you or I hear an audio ad, the absence of pictures means our minds actually work to create our own visual interpretation of the ad,” Deane says. “That tends to often lead to high level of brand trust, high levels of personal intent or relevance—someone feeling that a product is for them.”
Pro: Podcast listeners play a lot of mobile games
Beyond the personal connection, there is another reason why podcast advertising could be interesting for mobile gamer marketers—demographics. The age group featuring the most podcast listeners in the U.S. is 18-34 year old men—30 percent of whom tune in to shows each week. Crucially though, these are high-value consumers that, according to a report from comScore, are more likely to be college educated, to live in a household earning $100,000 a year and to be early adopters of tech.
“[The research] found that 23 percent of normal smartphone users would use their phone for gaming, but 33 percent of digital audio users were likely to use their phone for gaming,” Deane says.
When speaking to Deane about Global Radio’s research on the habits of 400,000 consumers, there was a link between listening to audio on a smartphone and mobile gaming.
“[The research] found that 23 percent of normal smartphone users would use their phone for gaming, but 33 percent of digital audio users were likely to use their phone for gaming ,” Deane says.
Con: Podcast ads aren’t scalable yet
Much like influencer marketing in its early days, podcast spots are often arranged on a case-by-case basis, with a marketer or developer required to approach networks or podcasters individually rather than via a centralized platform. Devs can work with a podcast advertising agency or by purchasing slots programmatically using a service like PodWave, but these (for the moment) are few and far between.
Con: Performance is difficult to track at scale
With the biggest advertisers on the radio like T-Mobile unsure of podcast advertising’s benefits, game marketers should also tread carefully in the space.
The major issue with podcasts is their lack of performance tracking and back end analytics to accurately assess performance at scale. Unlike a normal mobile game advertising campaign, where the advertiser will track with identifiers such as device IDs to measure how a user behaves after interacting with a campaign, podcast ads leave little information behind for marketers to assess how well the campaign performed besides downloads—a figure any dev knows to be fickle.
With the arrival of new monetization models such as subscriptions to app stores, offering a discount coupon—favored by prominent podcast advertisers—may be a practical, and trackable, choice for some mobile game marketers.