Case Study: Madison Reed

Sometimes you find influencers – and even customers – outside your target demo. And that’s a good thing. Podcasts helped one company find a new demographic, and drove sales more efficiently than radio.


When online hair color company Madison Reed started its first podcast ad campaign, the company’s VP of Growth Marketing, Aaron Driver, wasn’t optimistic.

With just one product – a salon-quality home hair color free of ammonia and PPD – the company’s target consumers are pretty specific: women ages 35 – 54. He assumed that the podcast audience wouldn’t prove female-driven enough to hit their target cost-per-acquisition.

Turns out, “podcasts exceeded our expectations,” Driver said.

‘A Good Palette… To Tell Our Story’

Madison Reed has a passionate founder, who is so confident in their product that she named the company after her daughter. Their mission is to offer women hair color that’s better than both expensive salon treatments and inexpensive home products. Host-read podcast ads let the story shine through.

“You’d think as a beauty product you’d need to show the results visually,” he explained. “But, actually, it’s more persuasive and impactful to tell a story about why we founded this company, and about what you can expect when you buy from us.”

With hosts dedicating up to 60 seconds or more to the company’s spots, “it’s a good palette for us to be able to tell our story.”

New Customers Outside Your Target Demo

After looking at Midroll’s demographic data, and testing different shows and ad copy, Driver homed in on the true crime genre as a top category, which tends to have a majority-female audience.

The funny thing is, female-hosted and female-leaning shows weren’t the only ones that worked.

“Even though we have an exclusively female target, we’re able to play and be successful on podcasts that skew male,” Driver observed. “And even if just forty percent of listeners are female, we can get a response out of them.”

Even more interesting is that many customers report that their husbands and boyfriends told them about Madison Reed, or bought the product for them. So, while the listening audience may have skewed in a different direction, “our impressions were not wasted on male listeners,” he noted.

This just goes to show that sales, and sales influencers, can come from the margins, or even outside of your target demo. It’s the kind of insight that wouldn’t have come from the strictly targeted Facebook ads that the company relied upon before trying podcasts.

Multiplied Performance

Promo codes are a valuable way to track campaign performance, but they’re not necessarily sufficient in and of themselves. Madison Reed measures performance with a proprietary factor that tracks the custom promo codes for each show, combined with a checkout survey that asks customers where they heard about the product.

As a result, Driver said they’ve calculated that the number of sales resulting from a podcast campaign is “many multiples above promo code redemption.”

“There’s a significant multiplier (of promo codes) that every brand needs to quantify for itself,” he advised, “because you’re leaving a ton of value on the table if you’re not.”

More Efficient than Radio

Madison Reed launched terrestrial and satellite radio campaigns at the same time it got into podcasts. Driver learned that, “podcasts are incredibly efficient channel for us. Generally speaking, more efficient than terrestrial radio.”

He found that they simply couldn’t reach their target CPAs with host reads on either radio platform. “The podcast host reads definitely outperformed the terrestrial host reads,” Driver reported.

This actually helped inform their radio strategy. Rather than investing in terrestrial host reads, they’re only running pre-recorded spots on radio, but continuing with host reads on podcasts.

Hungry for More

With a strong record of success, Madison Reed plans to continue growing its podcast campaigns.

“We’re always hungry to test new podcasts,” Driver said. “Our budget is infinite, provided we meet a certain CPA goal.”