We Don’t Hate Podcast Ads — We Hate Poorly Executed Podcast Ads

Dave Jackson
5 min readNov 28, 2023

I was listening to an episode of the Media Roundtable where people who work in the podcast advertising space answered if they listened to ads. This inspired me to ask my audience, and they responded (hear them on episode 907). Many of the same complaints were repeated, so I’m sharing them here.

Stacked Preroll Ads

I don’t think pre-roll ads (an ad played before the show starts) are a great way to start your show. Do we stop and chat with the Walmart greeter? No, we came to shop, and while we appreciate their politeness, we are on a mission. So is your audience. You promised something in the show's title that made them click play, and now they want it.

So a pre-roll is annoying, but this is where I heard, “especially when they are stacked.” So now you have one Walmart greeter saying, “Welcome to Walmart,” and as you walk past them, another one pops up, “Welcome to Walmart.” You can see where that might be annoying.

So, one pre-roll may warrant a skip. Two back-to-back may warrant an unfollow.

Unrelated Ads

I do a podcast about podcasting. In the few instances where I have taken outside sponsors (I promote my own services in my show), they included products that my audience would use (microphones and interfaces). Someone once approached me with an offer about a service that would let you know if your website was down. I passed on that offer. Why? I’ve never in my 18 years of podcasting had someone ask, “Dave, do you know of a service that would let me know if my website is down?”

When you take on an ad that doesn’t potentially deliver value to your audience, that is the definition of selling out. If these are programmatic ads paying $3 per one thousand downloads (CPM) you sold out for (potentially) .0003 per download.

Oh No, Not Again

I only listen to the radio when I make my lunch. It never fails (cause it’s radio and 30% of it is ads). When I turn on the radio, ads will be playing, and on 92.3, in Cleveland plays an ad where some woman talks about how it would've taken 47 years to get out of debt if it was for (company name). I’ve heard it over and over. When that ad starts, I change the channel.

So, if you record the ad and insert it so the audience hears the same ad repeatedly, it can feel like torture. The audience is excited a new episode is out, but the ad is the same as the last ten episodes.

Volume Issues

I’ve heard people say that when ads come on, they get blasted as the ad is much louder than the podcast. They blame the advertiser. As someone who works in podcast support, it may be that the podcaster is recording too low.

You can use a plugin like the Waves WLM Plus Loudness Meter (aff) to ensure everything you output has the same volume level.

Too Many Ads

In the Podcast Advertising Playbook show, Thomas Mancusi mentions how having too many back-to-back ads can be an issue. A two-minute slot with two one-minute ads will perform better than a two-minute slot filled with four thirty-second ads. Apparently, the listener keeps thinking, “Well, surely they’ll return now… NOPE, another ad.

When I say that radio is 30% ads, that is NOT the benchmark that we are looking to hit; it is the benchmark we should be running away from. Too many ads are one of the reasons podcasting is increasing in popularity and radio is falling. (For more on that, see the movie Corporate FM).

Yes, there is an “Annoy them to the paid version” strategy (YouTube Premium Anyone?), but realize some people grab their credit card, and others press the delete button.

The Apps Strike Back

Two of my favorite apps are Overcast and Castamatic (both, unfortunately, are only available on iOs). They have the ability on a per-show basis set when you want to start an episode. One show I listen to stacks pre-roll ads, and I set that show to start at the 2:05 mark

Skip ads section of Castamatic

It Somewhat Depends

A few people mentioned that it depends on where the phone is when the ad is played. If the phone is in your hand, it’s getting skipped. It is more likely to be heard if you’re in the car listening.

I have my earbuds set up to skip ahead when I double-tap them.

Integrity Works

When you personalize (instead of just reading the bullet points) the ad and help connect the value of the product to your audience, they don’t mind them as much. Jordan Harbinger and Stacking Benjamins do a great job of this. Jordan mentioned some product (that was a sponsor) that his wife used when she was pregnant. He didn’t promote an exercise bike until he got to ride it.

Your Ads Are Still Content

You work hard on being educational and entertaining in your content. Do the same with your ads. Most of the ads we remember are due to them being educational and entertaining (Where’s the Beef?)

I Update My Ads More Often

After hearing what my audience said, I will be swapping out my ads (for my product) more frequently. I’m going to make them more entertaining.

Is Their Life Without Advertising?

There is the mindset of, “Well, we’ve always had advertising in radio, newspapers, magazines, and TV. It’s always been this way,” and that is true. But now, with streaming services, we are willing to pay to have them go away and provide a better experience consuming the content.

As I write this, there are 16,220 shows that have enabled their show to receive streaming value in the form of micropayments (see how). There are 17,991 podcasters making $3,534,127 a MONTH using crowdfunding tools. According to The Tilt, the most profit comes from selling your own products and services.

When I did the research for my book Profit From Your Podcast: Proven Strategies to Turn Listeners Into a Livelihood, people who did podcasting full time didn’t have just one income stream. They had many.

Dave Jackson began podcasting in 2005 and launched the School of Podcasting (schoolofpodcasting.com). His School of Podcasting show has over 3.1 million downloads. He has helped hundreds of people plan, launch, and grow their podcasts. He is the author of the book Profit from Your Podcast and is a featured speaker at events. In 2016, Dave joined Libsyn (the largest podcast hosting company) and is now the head of their podcast education. In 2018, he was inducted into the Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame.

Find all his shows at www.powerofpodcasting.com