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How to create a successful influencer marketing campaign, Pt. 2: Podcasts


Managing brand safety is crucial for a successful marketing campaign


  • How to manage brand safety expectations within podcasts
  • Choosing the right shows and hosts is imperative in podcast advertising
  • Podcast networks hold themselves and their hosts accountable

Following up on our first discussion on how to create a successful influencer marketing campaign, brand safety is always at the forefront of any advertiser’s mind. Research has shown that a successful influencer marketing and social media campaign can greatly enhance the connection between brands and their consumers, and leveraging podcast host reads is no exception. 

So how do we ensure brand integrity when it comes to unscripted high engagement media like podcasts? 

Managing brand safety expectations with podcast advertising  

No medium or platform is completely impervious to brand safety concerns. But when you look at the number of podcast ads taking place each day, week, and month, you find that there are tens of thousands of ads. And with that volume, only a handful of instances each quarter raise notable brand safety concerns.

Keep in mind, we only ever hear about the negative cases. We rarely talk about the numerous instances in which talent goes above and beyond to promote their sponsors. Exceptional reads have become the status quo for the podcast industry. That’s one of the reasons why it has quickly scaled into a billion-dollar channel.  

But don’t just take my word for it. In order to get a client’s perspective on this, I asked several of our partners to express their views on how they approach brand safety with podcast host-read ads.  

Michelle DeStein, Senior Acquisition Manager from Bombas, says, We want everyone who wears Bombas to feel their most comfortable and know that their purchase gives back to communities in need. Partnering with influencers allows us to amplify and personalize the messages by describing what this means to them. When selecting these individuals for our programs, brand safety is a crucial consideration because they’re not only advocates for our products, but also for the diverse groups of individuals our Giving Partners service including BIPOC, LGBTQ+ communities, veterans, youth, and senior citizens.”

Deanna Bershad, VP of Marketing from Pretty Litter, says, “We value influencer marketing as a core channel as it allows us to target niche markets with extremely engaged audiences. The high amount of trust these social influencers create is seen in our performance data, and while brand safety is always paramount, we don’t view podcasts or influencer marketing as a high-risk environment.”

How to select the right podcast hosts and influencers for your brand

When you consider the impact influencers will have on your brand as they support your products, it requires a careful selection process. You must evaluate if the host, content, genre, or tone is appropriate for your brand. From a buying perspective, our Vice President of Podcast Media, Hilary Ross, says brand safety is unique to each brand. For example, some clients steer clear of conservative talk, while others will want to avoid explicit language or pandemic-related content. 

One of the things you should explore is the program content itself and identify any red flags that may threaten brand safety. This is part of our process as we advise clients on the right influencers to target. As we onboard a client, we identify any content that could be of concern and even share program examples for client review to gauge comfort. This simple communication upfront lays the foundation for the campaign to mitigate any brand safety concerns. 

Podcast networks hold themselves accountable

Addressing brand safety is a collaborative effort between the buyer and seller. What often goes unnoticed, and should be highlighted, is the level of accountability and responsibility podcast networks deliver to their advertisers. While networks can’t control what a host says, they diligently review show content before adding it to their talent roster and are quick to rectify any client concerns.    

I asked a few of our podcast partners how they approach brand safety currently in their business model, ranging from show acquisition to brand execution:

  • Thomas Mancusi, Chief Revenue Officer for Audioboom, says, “We focus on professionalism, integrity, and ethics when identifying podcasters for our network, and this is the vital first step in creating a safe environment for our advertising partners.”
  • John Murphy, President at Cadence 13, says, “Our goal is to understand the type of content each client is looking for in the discovery phase and any brand parameters to be aware of. The first step in fostering a long-term partnership with a brand is building trust, and we want them to know we are being proactive.”
  • Heather Osgood, Founder at True Native Media, says, “One of the invaluable cornerstones of podcasting is freedom of speech and creativity, so it is critical that if a podcast is interested in acquiring sponsors, we understand how their content will or won’t align with sponsors. Each client has their own set of brand safety guidelines, and we rely on this feedback, along with target demographics, to determine the right influencers.”  

As with any media channel, brand safety in podcasting is always going to be imperative for any company, regardless of what stage their business is in. As industry research continues to validate the growth and efficacy of influencers and hosts, more brands will continue to utilize them as a cornerstone of their marketing efforts to personalize their messaging. 

Additional Reading

How to Know if an Advertising Channel is Right for Your Brand

Creating an Advertising Strategy One Year After Lockdown

Photo by Sandra Tenschert on Unsplash