Podcast Advertising: Pre-Rolls, Mid-Rolls and Post-Rolls

Where should you put ads and promos in your podcast?

2.2 billion dollars. That’s how much money is expected to be spent on podcast advertising this year, in 2023. And if you’re listening to this episode, you’re probably expecting or hoping that a portion of that money makes it into your own pocket. Creating a great podcast ad is one thing, but figuring out where to put it in your podcast, that could make or break an advertising campaign. Today we’re demystifying the world of mid-rolls, pre-rolls, and post-rolls.

Here’s what we’re going to discuss…

  • Understanding podcast ad placements
  • Best practices for using pre-rolls, mid-rolls and post-rolls
  • Ways to insert ads and promos into your episodes
  • Working ad placements into your show format

get my guide for creating podcast ads

Want to know more about the four steps I use when creating ads for my own podcast? This is a great guide to print out and follow each time you’re writing new ads for your show!

Sunny Gault | Podcast Coach and Mentor | Independent Podcast Network

Episode Transcript

$2.2 billion. That’s how much money is expected to be spent on podcast advertising this year in 2023. And if you’re listening to this episode, you’re probably expecting or hoping that a portion of that money makes it into your own pocket. Creating a great podcast ad is one thing, but figuring out where to put it in your podcast. Well, that could make or break an advertising campaign. Today, we’re demystifying the world of free rolls, mid rolls and post rolls. Take it away, Mister radio man. Podcast Your Business.

Hello, hello. Welcome back to podcast your business. I’m Sunny Gault. I’m a podcast coach and mentor. And I’ve been doing this whole podcasting thing for 17 years. I’m also the founder and CEO of Independent Podcast Network. Check us out at https://independentpodcast.network, because we produce a ton of free content for people who want to learn how to podcast and people who want to up their podcasting game. But today, I am here to help you create amazing podcasts, especially for those of you who are doing this for your business. And we do this by mastering the five P’s of podcasting, the five P’s of podcasting. This is a concept that I created when I launched my first podcasting course. And I thought, What do podcasters need in order to be successful? How should you really look at your podcast? And how can you break it down into something that’s more manageable. And that’s how I came up with the five P’s they are prep, plan, produce, promote, and profit. And in each episode of podcast, your business, we pick a different P and we talk about something that is related to that topic. Okay, so Mr. radio man, which of the five P’s are we talking about today? Profit. Cha Ching. That’s right. When we’re talking about running ads, or even promos on your podcast, this is usually tied in to making some sort of a profit, perhaps you’re promoting your own products and services. Or maybe you’re running ads to promote another company. Either way, doesn’t matter, you need to know where to put these spots in your episodes. So you get the maximum benefit, right?

So here’s what we’re going to be talking about today, we’re going to help you understand the different options for podcast ad placements. In other words, where do you put ads in your show? Okay, there’s three specific places, we’ll break those down for you. Then we’re also going to talk about the best practices, so you have a better idea of what types of ads could belong and each of those spaces. We’re going to talk about ways to insert ads and promos into your episodes. And then we’re going to talk about how to work this into your overall show format. I’m a big advocate of thinking about your show format, from the very beginning, ads should not be an afterthought. If they are, you’re already a little bit behind the game, and you don’t want to do that, because you want this to flow as seamlessly as possible within your podcast episodes. Right? And we’re going to tell you how to do that. We will get started right after this quick break.

So what options do you have when it comes to placing ads and promos into your show? What are some of the industry standards? And if you looked at the title of this episode, you should be able to answer this question already. So we have pre rolls, mid rolls, and post rolls. Some of this is self explanatory, but bear with me, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. Pre rolls appear at the start of your show. Usually before any of your content begins. Now there was this thing a while back where advertisers were calling pre rolls. Not real pre rolls. They were basically saying oh, if it’s within, you know, the first five minutes of your show, it’s a pre roll. for all intensive purposes. That’s not a pre roll. I’m sorry, advertisers. That’s not a pre roll a pre roll happens before you even dive into your content. It’s before you hear a note of your theme song being played. Okay. It is completely separate from your show. You can think of this. I love to eat Okay, does anyone else out there like to eat? I like to think of free rolls as your appetizer. Okay, it before you really get into everything right ate at the start, think of it as your appetizer. Okay, so we’ve got pre rolls. Now let’s talk about mid rolls. This is, you know, very, very popular, your mid rolls, and you can have multiple mid rolls, we’ll get into that. But these ads or promos happen after your show has started. So it’s within your show. And there’s different ways to insert that. We’ll talk about that in a second. With our food analogy, this is kind of like your main course. Okay, it is your meat and potatoes. And then finally, we have post rolls. Post rolls are kind of the redheaded stepchild, I feel podcast ads, they happen at the very end of your show. And again, we’re going with the food analogy, it’s kind of like dessert, although it doesn’t taste nearly as good as dessert. It’s kind of one of those things that a lot of people skip. Okay, that’s why I’m equating it to desserts.

Now let’s talk about best practices. And when you would use ads in these different spots, okay, back to pre roll. So this happens again, at the start of your show, anything any kind of content, whether you know getting promo, and doesn’t matter. Anything that goes out before people actually get into the heart of your show needs to be brief, I tried to make prerolls 10 to 15 seconds max, I do not recommend that you put a regular ad spot something that’s 3060 90 seconds before your content, sometimes that happens, it’s not ideal. So please try to keep it brief, because you want people to actually get into the content of your show and continue listening to your episode. You also want to get to the point, okay, and that kind of goes along with keeping it short and sweet, you should have some sort of call to action. And I will say sometimes pre rolls are paired with mid rolls, I have this happening on one of my shows right now, we have an advertiser, for our Pregnancy show. And we have a mid roll spot running, which is a longer spot. But then we also have a pre roll that kind of wets their appetite a little bit. And lets them know that hey, you know, if you’re struggling with this, you know, we’ve got a great company that we’re working with now. And you can even save some money. So stay tuned. For the middle of the show. We’re gonna tell you more about it something super quick and easy like that. Why don’t we actually play the pre roll for you. So this is that ad that I was telling you about. And it kind of leads in to the mid roll later on in the show. Take a listen.

This episode of Preggie Pals is brought to you by element, the world’s first personalized prenatal supplement. Stay tuned to learn how element can help you take the guesswork out of prenatal vitamins.

Okay, so short and sweet. To the point there was a call to action right? Stay tuned, we’re going to tell you x y z. Pre rolls can also completely standalone. So you can have a short ad for something that you don’t have a mid roll for. I just wanted to show you this more complex example today where you’ve got a pre roll. And then there’s going to be a mid roll, which I’m going to play for you in just a second. So let’s talk about mid rolls. These are ad spots, they are longer. The exact length honest to God is all over the map with podcast. I have done ads the shortest 30 seconds. This standard if you’re working with ad agencies is 60 seconds. But I have heard podcasters go for several minutes. Now I’m not. I’m not, I’m not a big advocate of going for several minutes, especially if you’ve already agreed to a time with an advertiser. Try to keep it to that length. Sometimes it can be a little tricky, because they’ll give you bullet points. And you’re like there’s absolutely no way I can say all this like they purchase a 30 second spot or a 60 second spot, you’re like there’s no way that I’m going to say all of this with in 60 seconds, I’d have to be a speed reader. So you may have to modify things a little bit. But that’s the timeframe we’re typically working with 30 seconds is pretty short. It’s hard to get a lot in in 30 seconds. 60 seconds is your standard for mid rolls. This is considered the most effective and placement spot. And the reason is, again, people are already listening to your content. You’ve already started your show. So in theory, the listener is going to keep listening to the podcast and therefore listen through the ad spot doesn’t always happen and yes, they can fast forward. You know, it happens you do the best job that you can do. But this is what’s kind of in the mindset of advertisers. And this is Why them, this is considered the most effective ad placement spot. With this, of course, whenever you’re doing an ad, you need some compelling call to action. Again, all ads, keep things simple. And when it comes to the call to action, make it easy for audiences to remember and implement whatever it is that you’re saying. And sometimes, this requires going back to the advertiser and asking them to simplify things. One of the things that drives me crazy is when advertisers give you a link, plus a promo code that the people have to type in. That’s too much, honestly, it truly is too much pick one or the other, either have them go to a specific link, or have them use a promo code. But both is really overkill. So if you ever get that, my recommendation is to do a little bit of pushback. Now you also have to understand if you are giving out a specific link, that link needs to be simplified as much as possible as well, because people are either listening, or perhaps you’ve got a video podcast, and they’re watching. And yes, you may have the direct link in the episode description. But on some level, they have to kind of memorize whatever the call to action is. So please keep it simple. So let’s go ahead and play the mid roll spot that is part of that pre roll mid roll combination, you’ve already heard the pre roll. Now here’s the mid roll that you would hear later on in the show. Let’s talk about prenatal vitamins.

I don’t know about you. But I got very little guidance from my OBGYN about what to look for in a quality prenatal. And that’s kind of crazy because pregnant women are supposed to take these vitamins even before they get pregnant. And if you’re not confused yet, try staring at the laundry list of ingredients on the side of these bottles. Wouldn’t it be nice if your prenatal vitamin was customized specifically for you and your growing baby. That’s what element is all about. It’s the first ever prenatal supplement designed specifically for your pregnancy. Maybe you have a high risk pregnancy or you’re like me and have nutritional deficiencies like low iron, no problem, you’ll get exactly what your body needs and your twice daily packets. One is for the am and the other for the PM. It starts with a detailed onboarding form to customize your vitamins. And then each month you will complete a questionnaire element can adjust what’s included in your packets based on what’s happening in your pregnancy. This is really a game changer when it comes to prenatal vitamins. Build your box today, visit Hello element.com That’s Hello, e l l e m e n t.com. To learn more.

Now in this example, we didn’t have a specific promo code for our podcast, which is kind of nice. So this is an advertiser that is just trying to get the word out about their product in general. And it’s not as important for them to have a promo code to track it back to our podcast. This particular advertiser has worked with us in the past. And they know because of feedback from their customers, how people found them, right. And we had enough people say, Hey, I heard you on the preggy pals podcast, that now they don’t even worry about promo codes, which is really nice. Not only is it nice for us, but it’s really nice for the listener too, because there was no direct link they have to go to it’s just the general website for the company. They don’t have to remember a promo code. This is keeping it as simple as you possibly can. So let’s move on to post roles. I’m going to keep this short and sweet, just like your ad should be. Because most advertisers don’t get really excited about post rolls. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them in your show. Even if you’re using it for promotional purposes for something your Facebook page, Instagram, a new book you have coming out whatever it is, this is still real estate. I will say that a lot of the programmatic ads, I’m finding more and more programmatic companies are willing to run ads in post roll spots. But you may not be making nearly as much money and I have never had a direct ad campaign where I’m working directly with the advertiser. None of them have been okay with post roll ads. Sometimes they’re okay with pre rolls, but mainly they want mid rolls. So when we’re talking about post rolls, the overall length varies. I have seen people do really long post roll ads because they’re like, well, it’s the end of the show. If they quit listening, they quit listening. I’m not so sure that’s a great strategy. I think I would treat This more like a pre roll, keep it short and concise. Again, this is the least effective ad placement spot, but it’s still a spot. So use it, use it for self promotion or cross promote another show something like that. In our podcast episodes right now, sometimes we do have programmatic ads that run, but I am going to play you just a really quick sample of a promotion that I also run for our online community. So again, this is running as a post roll in some of our parenting podcasts. Take a listen.

Hey, mamas. Don’t forget to check out mighty moms. It’s our online community built for new moms just like you. Not only can you connect with other moms, but you can also join us backstage for special mom only online events. And you’ll also be notified when we’re recording. So you can join us as a special guest, visit our website, new mommy media.com and click on the mighty moms banner. It’s free. That’s https://newmommymedia.com. See you there.

So that post roll ad clocked in at about 30 seconds, that’s probably the max that I would make it. But again, this is a great place to do your own promotions or cross promote with another podcast. So now you know a little bit more about the different ad placement spots and podcasts, you’ve got your pre rolls, your mid rolls, and your post rolls. Now let’s briefly talk about the ways you can insert these types of ads into your show. I’ve talked about this before. In fact, I have a whole course that’s available for free on independent podcast network that teaches you the ins and outs of how to do what I’m about to explain, you’ve got two different options for inserting ads into your podcasts, you can do this the manual way, which is your reading a spot, it could be pre produced, but usually people are reading the Spot Live into their show. So the positive with that is that it always sounds a little bit different. And if you’re really good, you might be able to work it into your content a little more. So it’s not as abrupt because you may be talking about something and then you can figure out a way to naturally and kind of effortlessly start talking about the product. So people that really enjoy baked in ads, that’s the main thing. They say it just sounds more natural, and you’ve got more flexibility to work in into your show. And if you’re good, yeah, you can do that. However, the downside is, it usually is a lot more work because you’re having to rerecord the ad multiple times and think about how you’re leading into it. And I would, I would say there’s probably less reward with that overall, as opposed to what we call dynamic ads, dynamic ads, use technology to insert ads into your show. So you would pre produce the spot. And then you tell the system, which is usually connected to your podcast hosting platform where that spot should run, and you’ve got a lot more flexibility on how it’s inserted into your show. So you can say, hey, this is going to be a pre roll, this is going to be a mid roll. This is going to be a post URL. This is the exact time code when this hits. And depending on your podcast host provider and the service that you’re using, you can get very specific on who actually here’s the ad. The other thing that’s really nice about this is it will only count as an impression if someone listens long enough to actually hear the spot in your episode. Whereas if you’re just doing the baked in ads, right where you’re recording it live, you don’t really know if someone listened long enough to actually hear the ad, you know, they started listening to the episode. But did they actually listen long enough to hear the spot, it’s very hard to make that connection to advertisers. Whereas again, dynamic ads, the ads not even going to play if they don’t listen long enough in the show. So it’s usually a better return on investment for the advertiser. So those are your two options. Again, I’ve got a lot more information on the website, and a whole video course, if you’re interested in learning how to add dynamic ads into your show and the pros and cons and all that good stuff.

The last thing I wanted to briefly talk about is the importance of working this into your show format. And how if you’re going to use pre rolls, mid rolls and post rolls, really this should start in the very beginning when you’re doing your planning for your podcast. Now, some of you may be past that point. And now you’re thinking about you know, working these in your show. That’s okay, you can still do it, but you may have to do a little bit of backtracking. Because if you’ve already released episodes, what works really well especially if you’re Dealing with dynamic ads is that you have the same amount of ad spots throughout all of your episodes. So you may have to go back and reformat some of those earlier shows, to keep it consistent. But I like to tell brand new podcasters to think about this when they’re thinking about their overall show format, how many ad spots do you want to run? Again, you want to keep it consistent? So that’s the big question that I get asked, how many ads should you have in your show? Well, the answer is, how long is your show? I’m going to come back at you with another question. Because the general rule of thumb is you can have one ad per 15 minutes of content, that does not mean that you have an ad, then you have to have 15 minutes of content that you have another ad and 15 minutes of content. Okay, this is a general rule of thumb. So if you have a 30 minute podcast, then you can probably have two different ad spots in your show separate ad spots, if you want them. Another thing you can do is double up the ads in a single spot. Now, this kind of used to be taboo, but people are growing more and more accustomed to this. So if you find yourself, you know, based on the format of your show, really only having one spot where you can take a commercial break, don’t worry about that. But I would double up your spots. So you’ve got back to back ads in that single spot. If you are just starting out and you don’t have advertisers that you’re working with, I still recommend that you focus on your format, you figure out where you would want the ad spots to go. And then you write down the time codes of where those ads could go. Even if you’re not with a podcast host provider that allows you to, you know, have the dynamic ad technology. That’s okay, you can have your podcast on a free podcast hosting platform with the intention of growing your audience and then moving over because usually the platforms that allow for dynamic ad insertion are going to cost you some money. So stick with the free stuff as long as you can, but still focus on your format, still write down where those time codes would go. Because when you are ready to move over to a podcast host provider that allows for dynamic ad insertion, you’re going to be all set. If you don’t, you are going to be doing a little bit of backpedaling, because you’re going to move your stuff over to a podcast host provider that allows for dynamic ad insertion. And you’re not going to know where to put these little ad markers so the system knows when to play the ads. If you’ve written down your time codes, that’s not a problem.

All right. So there you go. Pretty easy, right? Understanding pre rolls, mid rolls and post rolls. Again, most of what you’re going to do is in the mid rolls, but I think it’s you know, it’s good to understand the pre rolls and the post rolls, because those are still valuable spots. And you should know how to use them. You know about the ad placements now. But do you know how to write a good ad. That’s what our free handout today is all about. So I’m going to include the link in the podcast description below. So check that out. But we’ve got a ton of free resources on our website at Independent Podcast Network. And that includes free weekly blog posts that come out more podcast episodes like this one. Some videos, I’ve got a lot of handouts. And if you’re brand new to podcasting, please do not spend any money on a podcast course. I have free podcast courses on the website. Just pick and choose whatever you want to view, whatever makes sense for the podcast that you’re creating, because I want to help you have the most successful podcast you possibly can have. And for those of you who are a bit more advanced and you’re ready to work with advertisers, please reach out to us because that’s what we do. That’s how https://independentpodcast.network really makes its money is by helping podcasters and connecting them with advertisers. So hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Until next week, remember, podcasts are awesome.

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