Mid-roll vs. Pre-roll: What’s the Best Place for a Podcast Ad?

a woman recording a podcast ad

We talked in a previous blog about why you should think about investing in podcast advertising and what to consider when getting started. To recap, podcasting is an exciting new space offering a wealth of opportunities for advertisers to raise brand awareness and grow their networks.

Once you’ve decided to move forward with podcast advertising, one of your most important considerations should be your ad placement options. In this blog, we’ll break down  the most important factors of pre-roll ads vs. mid-roll (and even post-roll) ads, including cost, reach, ad style, and more.

Mid-roll vs. Pre-roll: Catching Your Audience’s Attention

Mid-roll ads and pre-roll ads are pretty much what they sound like. A pre-roll advertisement is usually about 15 seconds long and gets played before the actual content of the podcast begins. A mid-roll advertisement, on the other hand, is about a minute long and usually plays near or at the halfway mark of the podcast – generally 40-70% of the way through the show.

Each podcast advertising option has its pros and cons, and there is no right answer to which is definitively “better.”

Many advertisers prefer pre-roll ads because they believe that an ad appearing in the first 25% of a podcast is most likely to be heard by audiences. Others prefer mid-roll ads because audiences are likely to be engaged in other tasks and won’t take the time to skip through them.

There is data to back up both of these positions, and ultimately your decision will come down to a combination of financial and brand factors.

1. Cost & Reach

Many view the 25% of a podcast as prime real estate for advertising because conventional wisdom says the first few moments of a piece of content will reach the most people. Despite this reasoning, mid-roll ads tend to cost more than pre-roll ads.

This is because, as noted by BluBrry, people are more likely to skip over ads that play at the beginning of a podcast than those that play in the middle. In other words, a mid-roll ad typically reaches the most engaged or receptive members of a given podcast audience.

So, when considering mid-roll ads vs. pre-roll ads, you’ll need to find a balance between your budget and the podcast audience you want to reach.

2. Pre-recorded vs. Live Read

There are two main styles of podcast advertisements. In the typical style, a pre-recorded advertisement is simply played before or between segments of the show. In the “live read” style, the podcast host reads the advertisement themselves. Though mid-roll ads are more often done in the live read style than the pre-recorded style, both types can appear as either pre-roll or mid-roll ads – it just depends on the podcast.

There are conflicting opinions on which type of ad is better. While many argue that live read ads make for a more seamless listening experience, some listeners report reduced feelings of trust in a podcast when advertisements feel too much like endorsements.

3. Your Podcast Network Options

When it comes to both ad style and ad placement, you will be somewhat limited by the types of shows you’re looking to advertise on. These will be determined by your industry, product/service, and target audience.

Usually, a podcast sticks with one style of advertisements over the other. So, a podcast that uses live read ads will typically only use live read ads and vice-versa. You may have more flexibility with the timing of ads – for example, a single podcast may offer pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll placement options at different prices.

That said, podcasting has become so popular that no matter your industry or audience, with a little hard work, you’re sure to have enough options to suit your budget and needs.

Final Thoughts: “Downloads are king.”

Whether you end up going for mid-roll or pre-roll (or even post-roll) ads, know that an important factor in whether your ads get heard is simply whether the podcast was initiated. According to more data from BluBrry, “85% of the time when someone initiates listening to a podcast episode, it is ultimately 75% – 100% downloaded.” In other words, if lots of people push “play” on a particular podcast, most data reflects that those people are listening to most, if not all, of it.

So, if your budget isn’t quite midroll-friendly just yet, don’t worry! You can make up for it by advertising on a fairly popular show within your target niche.

An Agency Can Help

Podcasting may be new, but advertising isn’t – at least not to us. Just like radio and TV, podcast advertising is a business, and we’re excited to help you navigate that business. Get in touch with the Bloom Ads team today to get started with podcast advertising.

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