Creating a Great Host-Read Ad

How to knock your first host-read ad out of the park and set yourself up for consistent ad opportunities & renewals!

It’s important to focus on the content & growth in the early stages of creating a podcast. When you start to hit a few thousand weekly downloads, it’s the perfect opportunity to refocus on monetizing those listens each week. Our platform notifies you the moment your show is big enough to opt-in to RAP (the RedCircle Ad Platform).

This article walks you through how to create meaningful Host-Read Ads that perform effectively and resonate with your audience.

Setting CPMs & Minimum Weekly Downloads
Recording Host-Reads, Importance of Timeliness, and Boosting Performance
Securing Ad Renewals & Avoiding Cancellations
Resources & Helpful Links


Setting CPMs & Minimum Weekly Downloads

The first important step is setting realistic CPMs (cost per 1,000 downloads). We recommend starting on the low end rather than the high. Lower CPMs make your podcast more appealing to advertisers who want to do a few test runs. Our Ad Platform has an algorithm that automatically sets CPMs for you. Those are usually a good place to start! Recording a meaningful ad takes time and effort so most brands typically don’t send out deals that are under $50 since most podcasters tend to decline them.

Over the course of the year, you can bump those numbers up bit by bit based on renewals. If you have a $15 mid-roll CPM & 5,000 weekly downloads, then that equates to around $70 for one Host-Read Ad that ran for one week. You can play around with numbers now that you know the math!

It’s also important to have consistent weekly downloads. While most advertisers tend to prefer working with podcasts that have a minimum of 5,000 weekly downloads, that doesn't necessarily mean shows with a smaller amount of weekly downloads don't receive offers!

Set your CPMs for your podcast to an amount that correlates to your show size


Recording Host-Reads, Importance of Timeliness, and Boosting Performance

This section is all about how to craft a great authentic Host-Read Ad and the importance of timeliness. The more genuine and punctual the ad, the more the advertiser will want to work with you!

Check out this Help article for information on how to use RAP.

The Importance of Personal Endorsement & Swaying Your Audience

Have you ever found yourself telling a friend how much you love a certain product you own or have tried? This is called “word of mouth marketing”, and it’s something that happens almost every day when interacting with friends, family, and co-workers. Without even thinking about it, you were low-key selling them on something you personally endorse.

Personal endorsement is almost always required in a Host-Read script from a brand. The brand sends you the product or gives you a free trial to experience it.  You then have to talk about your experience in a positive way while incorporating call-to-actions (CTAs) and required script talking points. 

Most ads have a minimum requirement of 60 seconds, but it’s usually better to go beyond that. Some of the best-performing ads are almost two minutes long! When recording the Host-Read Ad, think about how you would tell a friend about this certain product and make them feel like they just “have to have it”. 

It’s also important to loop in key script talking points in a way that feels natural to you and your audience. You also want to ensure that the ads are being introduced on your show through a natural transition. You don’t want to be cut off mid-sentence! (See this Help article for a deeper dive on Insertion Points). 

Check out these excellent examples of Host-Read ads:

Black Girl Bravado

Why is this ad great? 
    • The podcasters are talking in their everyday tone, seamlessly integrating the ad into the podcast.

Marketing News Canada

Why is this ad great? 
    • The podcaster makes a clear, personal endorsement for the product and talks about their positive experience using it. 

Early Bird Gets the Worm

When communicating with the RedCircle team, either via email or responding to RAP campaigns, it’s important to be timely in your responses. In the screening and finalizing deal stage, we sometimes require responses within 24 hours depending on how quickly the brand wants to turn a deal around. 

The RedCircle team might send out a google form asking for your interest in a campaign or they might send you a campaign directly. These both have time limits on them (even if they don’t explicitly mention it!) 

For all vetting questions, we send those out to a handful of podcasters. The podcasters who fill those out the fastest are sent to the brand first. The brand’s budget could be filled within a day or two, so you might possibly lose your spot if you wait too long to respond.

When it comes to RAP campaigns, we only give our podcasters 5 days to accept the campaign. Sometimes a mass campaign is sent out to hundreds of podcasters, and even if you thought you had 5 days to respond, our team might expire the invite early if the budget is reached before then.

Accepting the ad read is the easy part. The actual hard part is making sure you are recording & uploading the ad read before the deadline (we make sure to send out email reminders!) If you don’t upload on time, then we might not be able to include you in any future campaigns with that brand.


Securing Ad Renewals & Avoiding Cancellations

It’s important that your ad performs. This might mean going above and beyond to ensure your listeners go to the website and purchase what you’re promoting. The steps below can help you secure a renewal and avoid a cancellation (which happens more often than you think!)

Boosting Ad Performance & Cross Promoting on Social Channels

When advertisers are looking to renew or cancel a campaign, they are mostly looking at URL visits, promo code redemptions, and more. You might have created a great ad, but if no one visits or uses the promo code, then the advertiser may not want to renew with you. They could end up wanting to cancel the partnership altogether, even if you had a longer-term campaign with them.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s important to boost performance by:

  • Putting links & promo codes in episode descriptions
  • Shouting out the brand on social media & posting about it on your other channels
  • Asking your audience to share when they have purchased something you recommended
  • Sharing that the reason your audience gets to listen to your episodes each week is because of your ad partners. Don’t be afraid to share that your show relies on your audience’s support in that way. This is super important because not a lot of people know that!

Here are some great examples of boosting performance:

  • Placing links and promo codes in episode descriptions
Add links and promo codes to your podcast episode descriptions to create a better relationship with brands and advertisers
  • Spreading the word on social media

Share brands and advertisers on your podcast's social media channels to better the relationship

If you do all of the above and still get a cancellation, then that could mean that your audience just wasn’t resonating with the advertiser. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Rather, it’s a learning experience. You’ll discover over time, based on renewals from advertisers, which sorts of products your audience is engaging with and ultimately make you and your podcast more successful in the long run.


Resources & Helpful Links

  • Check out our Blog article for more tips on recording an amazing ad!
  • Did you know that iHeartRadio has a nomination category for the Best Ad Read? Check out the 2022 winners and learn what makes their ad reads the best!
  • Hankering for some more examples? See this article from Hearst Bay Area for other examples, and additional tips & tricks.
  • Looking for things to avoid when making a host-read ad? This article from The Podcast Host includes some important tips on how to ensure the success of your ad.