There’s so many little details to consider when crafting an impactful host-read ad – from tone to talking points to Call-to-Actions (CTAs) and everything in between. You hope to get it right the first time around to avoid a makegood which can eat into your precious time, energy, and sellable inventory.
We’ve assembled a tried and true hit list you can use everytime you prepare, record, and finalize your ad reads. Be sure to take it slow and repeat these steps until they are burned into your brain.
Before you record…
1) Know the correct pronunciation of the Brand, product or key words
When you meet someone new, it goes a long way to take the time to learn how to pronounce their name correctly. This is also true when working with a new sponsor. Be sure to ask any questions upfront regarding brand names, product names, and other key pieces of information included in the agreement. This will give everyone peace of mind now and for the future.
2) Write a script
Although you’ll want the ad to sound as authentic and true to your personality as possible, having a loose script to practice with and reference during the record gives you the confidence that you’ll hit on every talking point, key word, and CTA. A good place to start is to re-read the provided talking points to refresh your memory on what you’ll need to cover off on. This will help you build the outline for your ad read. The below points will provide guidance for the outline of whatever else you’ll want to include in your script.
3) Include a personal experience with the product
Most spots will require you to discuss your personal experience with the product. This is your opportunity to share your direct and authentic experience using the product or service. We recommend focusing on the parts of the experience you enjoyed most – for example: the ease of ordering the product, if you liked the beautifully-designed or recyclable packaging, how it hit the senses (felt / smelled / tasted etc.), and/or if you’d ever gift it to a loved one. The goal is to be as genuine and personable with your experience as you are with your audience. Have fun with it!
4) Include any mandatory or highlighted lines
You’ll often get a list from the advertiser of talking points to use in the recording. These can either be formatted as a script to be read verbatim or used as a loose guide of points to touch on in the read. Like we mentioned, be sure to re-read the talking points while you are writing your script (and not while you are recording the ad!). These mandatory talking points can change from advertiser to advertiser so it’s important to know them and be prepared with a plan.
5) Ensure all CTAs are correct
This is the easiest mistake to avoid if you prepare! A Call-To-Action or a CTA is the special offer you get to share with your listeners and where they can benefit from your sponsorship. Most often, advertisers will want you to read the url or promo code verbatim. While writing your script it’s good to practice reading the offer outloud a couple times so when it’s time to record, you can read it twice, spelling out any urls or codes that listeners didn’t catch the first time.
6) Meet the minimum ad duration
By now you have a script and have practiced it a few times with a timer. It’s important to make sure you’re following the guidelines for the agreed length of the ad. We’d recommend no shorter than 1:00 minute to avoid any makegoods, and no longer than 3:00 minutes to keep listeners engaged.
While you record…
7) Rely on your script to read all required talking points
Now you’re ready to record – you have a script that includes every detail you’ll need to remember throughout the ad read and know it will land between 1:00 - 3:00 minutes. It’s time. Be sure to record in a quiet environment (no music or background noises) and enjoy! You’ve prepared and now can record with confidence that you’re going to hit every necessary talking point with personality and precision.
After you record…
8) Place the ad in the contracted spot
Be mindful of where the ad read needs to be placed in your episode. If it’s pre-roll, we recommend placing it within the first 5-10 minutes. If it’s mid-roll, place it around halfway through the episode, approximately 40-70% of the way through. If it’s a post-roll ad, include it in the last 5-10 minutes. Carefully follow instructions on placement to avoid having to do a makegood.
9) Provide added value to the advertiser
Creating added value is all about going that extra mile to help push conversion and get brands excited to renew with you. Take stock of all the places you can effectively distribute their vanity url or sometimes even a promo code in the show notes, on social, or your show’s website. Giving the brand a shoutout on social media can go a long way, but be sure to check with them first to make sure they are cool with any promo codes getting shared with your social audience. Especially when it comes to first time sponsors, showing that you’re willing to be a good partner will only set the relationship up for success moving forward.
10) Do a final pass on your edit and show notes
Congratulations! Think of this last tip as your victory lap. You’ve prepared, recorded and edited the spot into your episode. Do yourself one last huge favor and with the talking points in front of you listen to the ad one more time. Listen to make sure you hit every note, that the url or promo code is crystal clear to the ear, and the overall the piece feels authentic to you. Double check those show notes and test out anything that’s linked to them. That’s it! Give yourself a round of applause and check this spot off the list.
For more articles and resources on the Gumblog, check out How to Read a Great Host-Read Ad (Part I) and (Part II), 17 Stats that Reveal the Power of Podcast Advertising and Host-Read Ads and Picking a Podcast Monetization Strategy that Works (Part I) and (Part II).