Want to trade ads for ads
June 12, 2009 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Help me plan a mutually beneficial, strategic partnership with a sponsor for my podcast. Details within.

I'll try to keep this short and break my info into sections. I apologize on being vague but due to some competition I have I need to not tip my peers to my idea. And I feel some background is relevant for my company.

Podcast history

I have three podcasts that are what most deem "moderately successful". They range in age from one to four years of regular broadcast. Two get about 2,500 COMPLETE downloads (judged by measuring KB, not counting just hits/requests) per show in the first few weeks of release (usually topping out around 6,000 to 10,000 after a year of release), and the third gets 3,500 in the first year, topping out at the higher end of that same range. All of our podcasts are released on a weekly basis, so on average 4 shows a month.

Thus far I have been focusing not on advertising and sponsorships but on growing our audience so we would truly have something worth showing sponsors/advertisors. My research shows that a 30 second ad on a podcast runs anywhere from 3 to 5 cents per listener, so theoretically I could charge $125 for a 30 second ad on any of those shows (now if I would get that is another matter...). Premiums are charged, from what I've seen, for "before the show" ads (i.e. the first sounds on the show being "This show is brought to you by..." etc).

I now feel we have a history but I still want to grow the audience more, especially on our four year old "flagship" show. But as we are using over a terrabyte of bandwidth each month and 160GB of disk space, server costs are getting a bit high and I'd like to offset those with SOME income.

Note that for the next few sections I'm only talking about our Flagship podcast, Podcast 1.

Company history

We incorporated a few years back when we were approached, based off the work we'd done on our independant podcasts, to do a corporate podcast. This paid well and paid all our comapny's bills for quite a while. Unfortunately the company ran into cash problems, and is now out of business.

Growing my audience

As mentioned before the niche I service is very competitive and I am not the number one show, I am number 3.

There is a magazine, Magazine A, that targets the specific niche audience I do, and I approached Magazine A regarding placing an ad. While we currently have no income, I thought pushing ourselves to #1 would greatly increase our ability to get the ad rates mentioned above. However the magazine charges $5,000 for a full page ad, $3,000 for a half page (discounts for multiple purchases). This is far beyond our range at this point as we have no income.

A Previous Advertisor

In the past we did charge a modest amount for web ads, etc. Our best sponsor was Company X, a company directly related to our subject matter for Podcast 1, who paid us under $100 per month for a weekly mention on the show plus an ad on our home page. The monthly payments changed with a web site redesign and we currently have no regular sponsors or advertisors however Company X seems interested in doing more advertising in the future.

Company X seems to have a very large ad budget, as they regularly run half page and full page ads in Magazine A. However they do NOT sponsor the #1 Podcast in our niche as it is not AS directly related to his business as our podcast is.

Future revenue hopes

Given that I am at the point where our company needs to start earning, I was looking at August to begin looking broadly for advertisors, perhaps at $0.025 (2.5 cents) per listener for a 30 second ad, 4 cents for a minute, etc. with various discounts for multiple purchases, and additional charges for before-the-show ads, etc.

But I had thought about approaching companies to be our "official sponsor" for a period of time. Initially, given the rates above, I had hoped that we might get as much as $1000 or more a month per podcast for sponsorship (4 shows a month, this breaks down to only $250 per show. Given the rates I've seen for 30 second ads, for several minutes of ad space with no competition, $1,000 seemed like it might be a rate companies would go for, and discounts would apply for multi-month agreements, and it guarantees them 10,000 listens per month).

Current thought

However, again, especially in this economy, getting companies to open up their checkbooks, especially for four figures a month, for podcasts (which unfortunately are still seen as "new" and "unproven" for ads) seems daring, especially since Podcast 1 is only number 3 in its niche.

So I had thought about approaching Company X for a bit of a partnership. They have, as mentioned before, a large ad budget, and place regular ads in the magazine I want our company to be in.

I had thought about asking them to do a partnership for perhaps 4 months, and during that time they woudl be our official "sponsor" with the benefits listed above (only advertisor, before show and mid-show spot, etc). In exchange I would ask to be featured in their print ads as well as on their web site. I had also thought about asking for a cost-offsetting stipend of perhaps $500 for all four months.

The question

Is what I'm asking for fair? Feasible? Reasonable? Is the cost-offsetting stipend too much given that what I really want is to be a blurb in his print ad to grow our audience so hopefully, at the end of the 4 month period, we can get far more (hopefully closer to the $1k per month per podcast)?

Should I add in Podcast 2 and Podcast 3, which have good download numbers, are not generating any revenue at present, and are somewhat related to Company X's business, but not quite as directly as Podcast 1?

I've never done ad sales, I'm a producer and this area is new to me. So I would appreciate any and all advice on how to monetize the download numbers we are getting.

Thanks MeFites!
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