The Paid Listener Acquisition Framework with Mary Assadullahi

Show notes:


Part 1:

1:22 The best podcast promotion channel
5:37 Establishing benchmarks
10:57 How to decide on the right marketing spend based on your goals
17:43 How to go about testing podcast networks
20:04 How to create ads that convert

Part 2
0:01 Cost per download benchmarks
3:22 How to approach blended cost per download and cost per listener calculation
8:23 The challenges of scaling paid campaigns and how to overcome them
13:40 What is the best property or landing page to send your paid traffic to?
16:17 How to approach multi-app tracking and attribution for publishers with their own listening app?


Key ideas:

The Best Podcast Promotion Channel

  • Mary’s unique perspective comes from her performance background. Every decision she makes is data-driven.
  • Generally speaking, keeping users on the platform where they hear/see the ad makes for higher conversion rates.
  • Keeping listeners within the podcast medium reduces friction.
  • Thus, Podcast-to-podcast promotion is the most effective channel to promote your podcast
  • Mary found that in-network cross-promotion is 10 times more effective than other types of campaigns, including ads on other platforms and podcast ad swaps.

Establishing Benchmarks

  • Establishing benchmarks is crucial for measuring the success of podcast promotion campaigns. It allows for a deeper understanding of conversion rates and helps allocate ad spend effectively.
  • Due to the unique nature of each podcast show (different genres, storylines, talent, etc.), benchmarks need to be set on a show-by-show basis.
  • Mary’s team sets these benchmarks based on various factors such as talent, show uniqueness, and potential for scaling.
  • For instance, the presence of notable talent on a show is expected to increase conversion rates.
  • On top of the show-by-show approach, Mary uses weighted averages to identify acceptable and unacceptable ranges of cost per download and guide future spending decisions.
  • While smaller audiences may have higher engagement rates, achieving scale is necessary for sustained growth.
  • Finding the right balance between small audiences with high engagement and large-scale audiences with lower engagement is key.

How to decide on the right marketing spend based on your goals

  • Establish benchmarks and goals to determine the appropriate marketing spend.
  • Spending too little, like a mere $1,000, may result in limited impressions, low ad frequency and wrong assumptions about audience engagement.
  • Investing in a higher spend allows for reaching a larger audience with the right message, frequency, and over time.
  • According to Mary’s analysis, reaching over 250,000 impressions in a 30-day period on the Realm network results in better conversion rates.
  • The budget and goals of each campaign dictate the optimal spend and tactics to achieve desired results.

How to go about testing podcast networks

  • Start by testing your own network and cross-promoting with smaller networks (no need for budget at this stage, ad swaps will do).
  • Compare conversion rates to validate audience-podcast fit and establish benchmarks.
  • Consider minimum spend requirements when scaling up to larger networks or utilizing programmatic resources.
  • Prioritize collaborations and transparency with smaller networks to optimize conversion potential.

How to create ads that convert

  • Fiction shows should focus on accessible angles that resonate with listeners.
  • Leveraging recognizable talent, such as John Hamm, or highlighting the voice of the creator can capture attention.
  • Make emotional connections and evoke curiosity within the limited timeframe of the ad.
  • Transition listeners smoothly into your show or universe without jarring their audio experience. For instance, don’t use “in a world where” type of ads when advertising fiction shows on a network specialized in fiction. This will only confuse listeners.

Cost per download benchmarks

  • Target cost per download (CPD) varies depending on factors like genre and client objectives.
  • Cost per download can range from as low as 17 cents to as high as $23.
  • Consider what is realistic within your available budget and desired outcomes.
  • Determine the number of downloads needed to meet advertiser commitments or profitability goals.
  • Balance the need for volume with a reasonable CPD; aim for a CPD below $1 in most cases.
  • Be mindful of the investment made in creating a show and its potential for profitability.
  • Consider factors like existing budget, desired revenue, and necessary download thresholds when determining CPD targets.

How to approach blended cost per download and cost per listener calculation

  • Consider engagement metrics like completion rate and new followers when analyzing podcast analytics.
  • Focus on the cost per listener rather than just the cost per download.
  • Consider the blended cost per download, which includes both paid and organic sources.
  • Track your total audience’s growth and evaluate your total spend’s effectiveness.
  • Re-engaging existing listeners is as important, if not more important, than acquiring new ones.
  • A long-term growth plan should include strategies for retaining and engaging both existing and new listeners.
  • Utilize podcast attribution tools to gain better insights into cost-per-download metrics and optimize your campaigns.

The challenges of scaling paid campaigns and how to overcome them

  • One of the biggest hurdles in scaling campaigns is the emotional impact of seeing conversion rates decrease as spending increases.
  • Allowing sufficient time, budget, and space for campaigns to develop is crucial. For instance, the cost per click might start very high on social media, but after a few days or weeks, it can decrease significantly.
  • Patience is necessary to observe the average cost per desired action decrease over time. For instance, if a customer stays engaged for a year and the initial cost per download is $10, the blended cost per download might be as low as $1 when they have listened to around 10 episodes.
  • Unexpected events or competition from other podcasts can impact results. Understanding uncontrollable factors is essential.
  • Educating clients and setting realistic expectations is essential. Communicating the anticipated fluctuations and improvements in performance helps manage their understanding.

What is the best property or landing page to send your paid traffic to?

  • Conversion rate optimization is absolutely essential to decrease your CPD when running paid campaigns
  • The best property to send paid traffic depends on your tech stack and capabilities.
  • Ideally, use smart links that detect the user’s device and existing platform to take them directly to the preferred platform (e.g., Apple Podcasts for iPhone users, Spotify for Android users).
  • Consider reducing the number of steps to reach one of your episodes, aiming for a seamless experience.
  • Landing pages that allow users to click on their preferred platform may require additional steps and reduce the immediacy of engagement.
  • Prioritize making your podcast page easily accessible and memorable to drive conversions.
  • Ensure your creative aligns with the easiest-to-remember and easiest-to-access property.

Realm’s distribution strategy and how to approach analytics when you have your own podcast app

  • When running marketing campaigns for their own shows, Realm focuses on platforms where listeners are most likely to engage, such as Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
  • Realm’s app predated their entry into podcasting, and they rebranded and expanded their content to reach a wider audience.
  • They prioritize millions of people listening to their shows on popular platforms and then converting a fraction of them to app users.
  • Managing a platform can be expensive and challenging, so it’s recommended to focus on where the listeners are and trust that they will find their way to the app.
  • Cross-app tracking for consumption is challenging due to privacy rules and proprietary data protection.
  • Realm analyzes data on its platform to understand content consumption and make adjustments to improve engagement.
  • They aggregate download and consumption numbers by creating models that integrate inputs from various dashboards.


Where to find and follow Mary and Realm

– Realm’s website and app
– Mary’s LinkedIn profile

Recommended reads

– Mary’s medium article: Best Practices for Promoting Podcasts: Podcast-to-Podcast Campaigns