Slate and Podcast Ads

I’ve become hooked on the daily podcast. They are wonderful little 5-7 minute chunks of interestirng content off of the site, read by their editor. Andy has the perfect voice for the podcasts, and the content is always silly, pointless, and fun.

Additionally, Slate was one of the first podcasts to integrate real advertising (at least from what I listen to). They’re also the first ones to do it right. Well, sort of.

Andy gives a quick overview of the day’s story, then cuts to an add. In the weeks since the podcasts launched, they’ve had several ad spots, including one for a Chrysler that has an engine that switches from 8 to 6 cylinders at cruising speed. Very cool. (And even cooler for Chrysler that I remember this)

But for the past several weeks, they’ve had the same ad playing every day. Day after day.

"So you want to tear up the road. But also want to plug in an MP3 board and play electronica. Can a car both thrill and pamper you? Don’t live in one dimension – check out the new Lexus IS at"

I literally typed that from memory, and I’ll bet if I check it the only thing I will have gotten wrong is the URL. (And can anyone tell me what the hell an "MP3 board" is, and why I’d want one in my car??)

Slate has done a great job for themselves, for listeners, and for advertisers in the way they’ve structured their ad placement. It’s short, it’s mostly contextually revelvant (in theory anyway), and it’s between content in a way that doesn’t make me want to immediately fast foward or stop listening.

What they’re failing on is two things:

Ad Content
OK, first off let me say that the copy above seems like it was written by a first day intern. I’m pretty sure I’m the target market for this car, yet I feel like they’re talking to my dad or grandfather. "Tear up the road"? "Pamper me"? "One dimension"?

Podcast ads had better be contextually relevant far past what’s required in other media. When people have complete and total control on deciding whether or not to choose your content by individual installment, you can’t simply guess at what fits, you’d better be creating it specifically for the target podcast.

The ad above is the bottom of the barrel content inserted into brilliant and fun writing. Why is that style not showcased instead?

I’m now listening to the Slate Explainer podcast too. Guess what ad is running on there too??

Ad Replinishment
In podcasts, you have a completely different type of delivery mechanism than you do with most other media. Typically, old school media has a release schedule that is industry specific. New TV shows come out every week. Magazines every month. Morning radio shows every morning.

Podcasts are much different because there’s very few that have a set schedule for release, and none that are consumed on a set schedule. (The great thing about the podcast is that I can listen any time or any place I want). This means greater care needs to be taken to change out the content in a way that doesn’t get tired. I don’t want to hear this stupid Lexus ad every single solitary individual day on my commute home at 5:00p. I have my routines and I don’t want to have this Lexus ad be one of them.

But if Slate changed it up and ran that ad every three days for a longer period of time, I’d certainly respond better. It’s when I hear that dude’s voice in my head at night that makes me want to step away from Slate podcasts all together.

I know this is all new, but come on. This should be obvious stuff to a company who effectively stays in business off of advertising.


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