For Uncommon Goods, podcast ads drive ‘high-quality’ customers

The online retailer spends 10x more on podcast ads during the holiday shopping season.
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Uncommon Goods

· 5 min read

Does Santa listen to podcasts? If you find a bag of AG1, a HelloFresh meal kit, or a Helix mattress under the tree, we might have our answer.

Uncommon Goods, an online shop for unique gifts, is hoping Santa (or at least the average holiday shopper) might catch one of its ads among podcast regulars this year.

Last holiday season, Uncommon Goods devoted twice as many ad dollars to podcasts as it did to TV, according to Christina Brinkman, a senior marketing analyst, though she did not share specific figures. That spend is about even this year, she said, but the company still spends about 10 times more on podcast ads during the holidays than it does at any other time of the year.

“We are really geared towards the holiday season,” Brinkman told Marketing Brew. “We know it’s when a lot of our customers are coming back to us each year, and we know that there’s a lot of competition out there for marketing messages, so we really like to get our name out there as much as possible and try to flood these podcasts.”

Three years after it got into podcast advertising, Uncommon Goods still implements a “test and learn” strategy, Brinkman said, experimenting with different measurement and targeting strategies to make sure its current “flood” of podcast ads are effective.

‘Tis the season

Uncommon Goods started running podcast ads in the winter of 2019, found the strategy “promising,” and worked with an agency to keep it up, according to Brinkman.

This year, Uncommon Goods took podcast advertising in-house, so Brinkman now runs the show with the help of an intern, she told us. From August 2, 2021, through November 28, 2022, Uncommon Goods spent an estimated $2.8 million on podcast ads across 130 shows, according to podcast ad verification and attribution platform Podscribe. Brinkman said the brand is advertising on about 150 podcasts in this quarter alone.

Paid search and catalogs are the two biggest marketing channels for Uncommon Goods during the fourth quarter, but podcasts and TV aren’t far behind, Brinkman said.

Its podcast ads are mostly host-read and “pretty focused on direct response,” but podcasters promoting the company well before holiday shopping season can boost brand awareness, according to Brinkman.

“We do start talking about the holidays in September in our podcast advertising, and that really helps us be like, ‘Don’t forget, when you’re actually holiday shopping, Uncommon Goods is the place to go,’” she said.

Heard it through a podcast

Uncommon Goods primarily uses post-purchase surveys and vanity URLs for podcast ad measurement, Brinkman told us. The brand used pixel-based attribution in 2020 and 2021 but found the results weren’t as straightforward as they were with pixels for paid social at the time.

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On social, Brinkman was able to see when people who clicked on or viewed her ads visited the site or placed an order. The pixel she was using for podcasting, however, only tracked when an episode was downloaded, not necessarily “which parts they were listening to.”

“We think a lot of the credit was going to people that might have automatically downloaded a podcast but not necessarily listened to it,” she said. “We are just super conservative and safe, and we like to be able to test out everything that we are spending this much money on.”

When the company focused on improving survey-based attribution this year, Brinkman said she noticed a “close relationship” between the company’s podcast ad spending and customers who indicated they heard about Uncommon Goods through a podcast.

Expanding horizons

Uncommon Goods’s “core demographic” are women ages 35–55, according to Brinkman, but she’s found that targeting podcasts whose listenership doesn’t exactly match that demo has led to new customer acquisition.

At first, Brinkman said the company was mostly advertising on podcasts in categories that typically skew toward female listeners, like true crime. Eventually, she noticed that podcasts with “core demographics that certainly don’t line up with ours” were performing well, too.

Video game podcast Castle Super Beast, for instance, was an “unexpected winner” for Uncommon Goods in terms of ROAS last year, she said, and the brand has worked with Ross Tucker’s Fantasy Feast fantasy football podcast since 2019.

“We think that there’s a place for everyone at Uncommon Goods, and what we found a lot of success with is not being afraid of going outside of that core demographic and finding these little niche shows where the hosts seem to really connect with the experience of shopping on our site,” Brinkman told us.

She said the company also prefers to work with shows with smaller reach than “big-name celebrity podcasts,” which she ultimately “didn’t see the return being worth it.” Smaller podcasters “really put their all into their ads,” which could contribute to the fact that customers who discover Uncommon Goods via podcasts are very valuable, Brinkman said.

“We do take a look and compare to other channels, the quality of customers that podcasts are driving, and we found that they have high order values,” Brinkman told us. “They are a very high-quality customer for us.”

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