How to Work OTT into Your Media Mix


People’s listening habits are evolving. Many radio stations release shows as podcasts for people to listen to at their convenience. However, as more people listen to streaming services, they have more control over when and how they listen, opening new advertising opportunities. The popularity of podcasts is rising significantly. Over half the U.S. population has listened to a podcast and more than 4 out of every 10 Americans listening in the last month. That means that advertising on these mediums is incredibly lucrative and very accessible.  

OTT is simple and accessible and should be a part of your media mix. As advertisers already know, radio ads are an effective and cost-effective way to reach your target audience. The same is true for podcasts. Though they operate differently from standard radio ads, they’re not very different from a production standpoint.  

OTT for Audio Services  

OTT is an acronym for “over-the-top” media service. The term refers to any media streamed over the internet instead of being offered on traditional media platforms like cable television or broadcast networks. You’ll see it used most often for video-on-demand platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime or audio streaming like Pandora and Spotify. Its popularity is largely attributable to its convenience, portability, and a wide variety of content.  

Audio like radio broadcasts and podcasts are easily accessible with only an internet connection and a device of choice, such as:  

  • Smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. 
  • Computers and laptops with desktop apps or web browsers. 
  • Smart TVs with reinstalled or downloaded OTT apps.  
  • Third-party streaming devices like Chromecast, Apple TV, or gaming consoles capable of downloading OTT apps.  

Podcast Ads  

Podcast ads are similar to radio ads. They can be scripted, pre-recorded, or created by the host. Like radio ads, podcast ads can occur at the beginning of the podcast or pre-roll, in the middle or mid-roll, or near the end or post-roll. The ads can be baked-in or dynamically inserted.  

Baked-in ads are part of the podcast episode, so it remains the same for everyone who hears it, no matter when it is downloaded or played. Dynamic ads differ based on audience and location by being incorporated after recording the podcast to be removed or changed. Pricing varies by cost-per-thousand, cost-per-acquisition, or a flat rate for 15-60 second spots. CPM rates average $15 for a 10-second ad, $18 for a 30-second ad, or $25 for a 60-second ad. However, specific rates vary by demand, as well as your location.  

Podcast ads costs will also differ based on which type of ad you use, and where you’re placing it.  Mid-roll ads tend to be more expensive because they occur when listeners are actively engaged in the content. Pre-roll ads will typically be less expensive, as listeners haven’t started paying attention to the show yet.  

Streaming Service Ads  

Streaming services use pre-recorded ads available in several types, determined by how and when people listen. Target specific audiences based on their listening preferences. Examples of Spotify ad types include:  

  • Audio everywhere – Available on all platforms, these audio ads are delivered between songs at all times of the day on any device. 
  • Sponsored session – This type of ad is served up on mobile and tablet only. It is offered in trade for a stretch of uninterrupted music in return for the subscriber viewing or listening to a sponsoring brand’s ad. 
  • Video takeover – Available only via mobile and tablet, your video message is served to logged-in users between songs and commercial ad breaks with a clickable extension. 
  • Overlay – This display ad is available on mobile and desktop when the user returns to the Spotify app. The brand is displayed prominently for the most impact and is clickable to take the user to the brand’s website.  
  • Homepage takeover – This desktop-only, rich media display ad highlights a brand on the Spotify homepage for 24 hours.  
  • Leaderboard – This desktop and web player-only display ad allows a brand to be displayed exclusively for 30 seconds when Spotify is the top app on the screen.  
  • Sponsored playlists – These sponsored playlists available on mobile, desktop, and web player serve audio, video, and display ads as the subscriber streams the playlist. 

Creating OTT Ads  

You can record audio OTT ads the same way you’d record a radio ad. Like radio hosts, podcast hosts can read or make scripts as requested. Podcast hosts are often primarily radio hosts. They must both engage the listener, interacting with other hosts and guests easily. Like radio hosts, podcast hosts often have an extensive following of loyal listeners.  

Another similarity is their ability to create great ads. Though radio shows and podcasts often have a dedicated, ready-made audience, the hosts know the importance of grabbing the listener’s attention to enhance the effect of the message and engage new followers. They understand that relevance and uniqueness are critical for sponsors and advertisers, as audiences are inundated with numerous ads each day on various mediums. Podcast and radio hosts also know when and how to use emotion to increase brand recognition and recall.  

OTT Is a Critical Component of Your Media Mix 

The popularity of and demand for OTT is only increasing, largely due to changing listening patterns. With more people working from home combined with an increasingly mobile population, investing in OTT is not an option but a must.  It is a natural complement to radio, as the listening audience frequently overlaps with current radio listeners. OTT ads allow you to reach a broader audience of engaged, active listeners, including those you may not reach otherwise.  

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