Keys to Success: Tracking

Direct response advertisers are often curious about whether they can use a tracking mechanism to help evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns. The answer is a definitive “yes.” Three of the most common and useful methods are offer codes, custom URLs, and check-out referrals.

Offer Codes

These are a unique word or phrase that a customer enters during the checkout process in order to get a bonus or discount. We recommend using a different code for each show, and making it easy for the listener to remember by relating it to the show itself. For instance, advertisers on WTF with Marc Maron will often use the code “wtf.”

It’s beneficial to have an attractive offer attached to the code in order to give listeners an incentive to remember and take advantage of it—a discount, free shipping, and so on. Note, however, that if your pricing is already so low that further discounts aren’t an option, that’s no problem: With the right copy, we can still make sure listeners remember to use the trackable URL most of the time.

“The great thing about podcasts is that we know exactly when the ads are running, and so we know when to expect certain traffic–any codes that we use are trackable, [then] we match them to the podcast.”
-Bryan DeLuca, Foot Cardigan

Custom URL

A custom URL has the benefit of being one fewer thing for the listener to remember. Often, advertisers with vanity URLs have those custom links trigger a discount, just as an offer code would.

Each URL should be exclusive to one show, so that you know which podcast generated the hit. For instance, our main URL is But when we run our own ads on Comedy Bang Bang, we use the custom URL

Generally speaking, custom URLs that aren’t paired to some incentive are less effective for tracking than those that offer a discount or bonus.

Pro Tip:

With custom URLs it’s also a good practice to create custom landing pages based on the show you used to acquire a customer. Changing copy to say, for example, “Welcome Comedy Bang Bang listeners” helps make fans feel special, like they’re getting something exclusive, and that’s not available to people who don’t listen to that show.

Check-Out Survey

This method can be used on its own or in tandem with custom URLs or offer codes. It’s basically a question that you ask a customer when they complete a purchase: Where did you hear about our brand/product/service? It can be a good idea to provide them with options that include the podcasts on which you’re advertising.


Podcast listeners understand that advertisers keep their podcasts free and on the air, and so are willing to both support advertisers and make sure advertisers know where they heard about a product or brand. They’ll take the extra minute to answer that question to help out their favorite hosts.

If you use check-out surveys alone, make sure to include this in your ad reads. Ask hosts to say something like, “And be sure to tell (advertiser) you heard about it on my podcast.” Listeners are more likely to take the cue when prompted by their favorite hosts.

“Podcasts were a surprisingly big winner in (our) post-order survey,”
-Herb Jones, Fracture.
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