Podcast Ads: Best Practices for Your Live Host Reads

Last time I made an important point about podcast ads: live host reads work best. In this post I outline some of the best practices to make this happen.

The short version is simple: Integrate the ad into the show as tightly as possible. Here’s how.

Record the ad during the recording of the podcast itself.

Don’t just record in the same recording session or on the same day, but as you record the podcast. This provides the most natural, inoffensive break during the podcast, and prevents the listener from being drawn out of the podcast.

If you’ve ever caught a bad moment of ADR in a movie or TV show, where the character’s vocal quality or volume suddenly changes, you know what we’re getting at. Changes in the audio flow are jarring, and they immediately start the ad read off on a bad (audio) foot.

That’s the crux of the live read: It’s not just the podcaster voicing the ad in his or her own voice—that’s simply a host read. A live read is voiced live, during the run of the show, with a real-time break to go through the ad.

Avoid using music beds behind the ad read.

You’re not looking to set the ad apart from the rest of the show. Instead, you want it entirely in keeping with the tone and run of the show, integrated as fully as possible with the rest of your content. When the ad feels “different” from the rest of the show it’s easier for the listener to ignore.

Like I emphasized last time, we’re not out to deceive the listener, or trick the audience into heeding the advertiser’s message. Rather, we’re simply trying to ensure we don’t lose the listener’s attention—or even worse, cue them consistently to ignore the ad messages with cuts, music, or interstitial sound effects.

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