Why you should prioritize mid-roll ads in your audio campaign

Mid-roll ads can have surprisingly high completion and engagement rates. While this can raise the cost of this ad type, the benefits can be well worthwhile.
Mid roll: woman wearing headphones and sunglasses

When it comes to reaching listeners through audio advertising, when in the ad you place your ads can make a big difference — not just in the number of people who listen to the ad, but also in how engaged they are with your content.

In the audio advertising world, mid-roll ads typically refer to podcast ads that appear in the middle of a podcast episode. By understanding the value mid-roll advertising can offer and how it differs from pre-roll and post-roll ads, you can make smarter ad buying decisions.

Pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll — what’s the difference?

Jon Stewart GIF

When you search for pre-roll ads, mid-roll ads, and post-roll ads on Google, you’re actually more likely to find information on video ads than podcast advertising. This is because YouTube and other video streaming platforms also use these types of ad placements with their video content. Online videos and audio content both use the terms “pre roll,” “mid roll,” and “postroll.”

Pre-roll ads play before the user’s content begins. We’ve all watched that countdown for when we can skip an ad on YouTube. This is one type of a pre-roll ad. In podcast advertising, pre-roll ads are also quite common, playing before a listener can begin their episode.

Mid-roll ads appear in one or more ad breaks over the course of a video or podcast episode. Interestingly, some websites have experimented with inserting mid-roll ads in livestream events. Mid-roll ad breaks will also show up when someone is listening to a playlist of their favorite songs on ad-supported tiers of platforms like Spotify or Pandora.

In a podcast, these ads are typically delivered via automatic placement. They are inserted into an ad break based on the platform’s targeting algorithms and the advertiser’s campaign parameters. Sometimes, they sound like a typical radio ad, while other times, they may even be read by the host of the podcast. In this way, they are very similar to a commercial break you’d hear on broadcast radio.

Finally, post-roll ads appear at the very end of a podcast episode or an online video. You may also hear post-roll ads on radio streaming sites when you reach the end of your own curated playlist.

Crunching the numbers on mid-roll ads

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At first glance, you might assume that pre-roll ads are your best option for getting listeners to engage with your content. However, research has found that mid-roll ads actually perform better overall.

Listening to completion

A study on video ad placements from MarketingDive found that mid-roll ads had a 90% completion rate, while pre-roll ads had a 78% completion rate (this is the percentage of people who watch an entire ad without skipping forward). This helps explain why mid-roll ads for podcasts are typically more expensive than other ad placements.

After all, higher engagement levels mean that the audiences are more likely to remember your brand and follow through on the call to action in your audio ad.

At first glance, the idea of mid-roll ads having higher engagement than pre-roll ads may seem counterintuitive. It makes sense that there would be more people listening at the beginning of a podcast episode, and that numbers would gradually taper off as the episode goes on. 

However, podcast listeners tend to remain highly engaged throughout an episode. Research from Blubrry and Rawvoice found that 85% of podcast listeners will listen to 75% to 100% of a podcast episode they have downloaded.

High engagement and recall

In addition, the research from Blubrry determined that mid-roll ads tend to get higher engagement because listeners are fully attuned to the podcast episode at that point.

Many people listen to podcasts while driving, exercising, or doing chores. They may try to skip ads at the beginning of the podcast, but by the time a mid-roll ad appears, they are also engaged in their other activity and aren’t going to grab their phone to skip the ad. Of course, the same would be true of someone listening to online radio.

The fact that more listeners are going to hear a mid-roll ad from start to finish has a big impact on the brands investing in audio advertising. Podcast advertising has an astounding 86% recall rate.

Relevant advertising on a favorite podcast can also make listeners feel more favorable towards your brand (and more likely to buy from you) as they make a connection between your products and services and their favorite show. If you want to make a positive impression on potential customers, mid-roll advertising on a podcast is a great place to start.

How much do mid-roll ads cost?

Podcast advertising rates are set using CPM (cost per mille), or the cost to reach one thousand listeners. While the average podcast ad CPM is $18 for a 30-second ad and $25 for a 60-second ad, these rates can vary significantly based on the placement of the ad.

Like it or not, the people setting the rates for podcast advertising know that mid-roll ads tend to have higher completion and engagement rates. That means that you can expect to be charged rates well above the average mentioned above if you’re trying to get one of those coveted spots.

How to ensure the success of your mid-roll advertising

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So you know that mid-roll ads can be a big boost to your audio advertising campaign…but what next? For better or worse, your ad is always going to be viewed as an interruption to the content your listeners were enjoying.

This means you need to follow best practices for writing a mid-roll ad that will hook your listeners right from the get-go. A strong audio ad begins with an engaging hook that catches a listener’s attention, such as an interesting question or catchy phrase. 

This is followed by an explanation of your brand’s unique value proposition, where you offer some more detail about your products, services, or offer. Wrap things up with a call to action that encourages listeners to engage further with your brand, such as calling a phone number or visiting your website.

You’ll be surprised at how much you can learn simply by listening to more ads and seeing how they follow (or fail to follow) these formatting guidelines.

Pay attention to audio ads the next time you listen to your favorite podcast. Do they use a script that features multiple voice actors holding a conversation? Or do they stick with a single announcer reading the script? What details do they include — and what could they leave out? Do music and sound effects add to or detract from their message?

While a strong script is a good starting point, choosing the right ad buy for your mid-roll ad is even more crucial. Careful research of a podcast’s target audience can help you match your ads with listeners who will be more likely to be interested in what you have to offer in the first place. 

The same can also be true of internet radio advertising. For example, while there might be some demographic overlap between people who listen to classic rock and those who listen to hip-hop, by and large, you will likely be looking at two very different groups of listeners.

By adapting your ad scripts to the interests and needs of your target audience and choosing podcasts or platforms where they are likely to be, you can ensure that your ads make a positive impression and drive real results.

Make the most of your ads with Decibel

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While podcasts and internet radio have created new opportunities for mid-roll ads and other strategic ad placements, the cost of audio advertising can still be a barrier to smaller businesses. This is where Decibel makes a difference.

Decibel Ads helps make it easier for smaller businesses to buy audio ads without breaking the bank. By securing valuable placements that help you reach your target audience, you can increase your brand awareness and achieve campaign goals. Get started today to see how easy it is to start your own campaign.

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