Podcasts

Lessons in podcast advertising from Athletic Greens, Uncommon Goods, and Cariuma

All three brands have spent millions on podcast ads.
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· 4 min read

The podcast ads are coming from inside the house.

Like with any channel, brands looking to advertise on podcasts have a range of agencies that they can hire to do the work for them. But some teams and execs choose to handle the ins and outs of podcast ad planning, buying, and measurement almost entirely on their own.

Last year, Marketing Brew spoke with a few brands doing just that while spending millions of dollars on podcast ads. Here are a few things we learned about how they’re pulling it off.

Playing the long game

Athletic Greens and Cariuma have at least two things in common: They’re invested in podcast advertising and say they’re in it for the long haul.

Athletic Greens chief growth and marketing officer Jonathan Corne told us his partnerships team, which handles podcast ad spend, tries to maintain relationships with hosts once they’ve started working together. They might change up the cadence of their ads with a certain network or show, but “what we don’t want to do is cancel anything,” he said.

  • Tim Ferriss, host of the business podcast The Tim Ferriss Show, was one of the first podcasters to promote Athletic Greens and is now an investor in the company, according to Corne.
  • Neuroscientist and Stanford associate professor Andrew D. Huberman, who’s also the host of the podcast Huberman Lab, has been promoting Athletic Greens for about two years and joined as a medical advisor, Corne added.

Cariuma’s chief digital officer, Felipe Araujo, has a similar philosophy; he told us he’s all about fostering long-term relationships with podcasters through year-long deals as a way to help Cariuma feel “ingrained in the culture of the show” instead of being a one-and-done sponsor.

  • Cariuma teamed up with podcast network Crooked Media to create a line of co-branded shoes, and Araujo said he’d like to do so again.
  • Araujo said his goal is for Cariuma to be so closely associated with Crooked Media that “if someone else starts advertising on Pod Save America and we couldn’t do it, it would be almost weird.”
  • “I think you see this a lot with shows in the ’80s and in the ’90s, how a brand was so part of that sitcom and scripts,” he said. “That’s what we want to aim to do with podcasts—to really make sure that we’re part of the DNA of the show.”

Stargazing

Stars—they’re just like us! (Because they all seem to host podcasts.) But not every brand is working with them.

Uncommon Goods, for instance, has found success partnering with smaller and more niche podcasters because “they really put their all into their ads,” Christina Brinkman, a senior marketing analyst who leads the brand’s podcast advertising, said.

  • Video game podcast Castle Super Beast was an “unexpected winner” for Uncommon Goods in terms of ROAS in 2021, she said.
  • But when it comes to “big-name celebrity podcasts,” Brinkman said she ultimately “didn’t see the return being worth it.”
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Athletic Greens, on the other hand, has a long-standing relationship with Armchair Expert, the popular podcast co-hosted by Dax Shepard, and Cariuma’s Araujo cited Alec Baldwin as a successful celebrity partner for the brand.

“We tend to try to go after hosts that have a celebrity persona,” Araujo explained, noting that celebrities, as well as hosts who have a strong point of view, often  “carry this weight of validation.”

Measuring cup

These brands spend millions on podcast ads, so, naturally, they would like to prove that they’re working.

Athletic Greens, the third-largest podcast advertiser by total show count (behind BetterHelp and Manscaped), according to podcast ad platform Podscribe, sticks with the tried-and-true vanity URL, Corne told us.

That methodology, however, provides a “conservative view” of how a podcast campaign is performing, given that listeners might not use the vanity URL immediately—or at all—even if they do make a purchase, so Athletic Greens also consults post-purchase surveys and other customer surveys as well.

Uncommon Goods also favors the post-purchase survey as well as vanity URLs, according to Brinkman, after trying pixel-based attribution in 2020 and 2021 and encountering some issues.

“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.”

Cariuma uses both surveys and pixel-based tools like Podscribe and Spotify’s Podsights, Araujo said.

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