Podcast Advertising: Host-Read or Dynamic Ad Insertion?

How to Choose the Format of Your Next Podcast Ad

With forty-one percent of the US population listening to a podcast in the last month, podcasts are more popular than ever.1 This rise in listeners corresponds with increased demand in podcast advertising inventory.

“Audio and podcasts are fantastic ways to reach users as they’re working, driving, or generally not engaging with their devices,” said Emma Maack, Manager of Sales Development. “This allows for a greater share of voice in comparison to other ads because it is typically the only ad a user is engaging with at a time.”

Why advertise on podcasts?

Audio advertising is a great tactic for campaigns with brand awareness goals. Listeners are often more focused on the content when playing podcasts compared to music, making podcast audiences more engaged. “For campaigns that have lower-funnel performance goals, we would recommend pairing audio with cross-channel remarketing,” said Katie Duff, Chief Revenue Officer. “This helps us to drive users through the sales funnel from awareness (via the audio ad) to consideration and conversion (through cross-channel remarketing).” Many people who listen to podcasts feel connected to the podcast’s host. They’re invested in what they’re listening to, so if they hear an ad during this time, especially in the host’s voice, they’re likely to become invested in the product. “Similar to influencer marketing,” said Maack, “host-read podcast buys are ideal for sending a message with authenticity and pushing toward a core audience of a podcast.”

Host-Read or Dynamic Ad Insertion?
What Is Host-Read?

Host-read ads are recorded as part of the podcast, and everyone listening to that episode will hear the same ad. According to a Nielson study, 53% of listeners said, “I prefer ads read by the podcast host vs. read by someone else.”2 Hearing someone they regularly listen to promote a product helps build trust that an advertisement is honest and sincere. “Host-read buys can be a great option when an advertiser identifies that their intended audience profile makes up the vast majority of the podcast’s listener base as the audience typically knows, trusts, and/or relates to the podcast host, which can make for a more lasting brand impression,” said Shalyn Mullholland, Vice President of Sales.

What Is Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI)?

Dynamically inserted ads are added to the podcast programmatically, allowing different users to hear different ads in the same podcast. Because of this, ads can target users based on location, demographic, and behavioral interests. “Dynamic ad insertions are often a much more flexible option for cost efficiencies, flighting, avails, targeting and tracking capabilities,” said Mullholland.

Which ad format performs better?

Performance is measured differently for each ad type because of their nature. DAI can report on many of the same metrics as other programmatic ads, while host-read ads often have more limited measurement options. A Neilson study set out to compare the two ad placements despite these differences and found that both forms increase familiarity and affinity for the brand, although host-read ads tend to be more successful in both categories.

However, host-read ads tend to be high cost and have low flexibility in targeting, measurement, and flighting.

What are the differences?

Host-read ads are typically bought on a flat fee. Although this fee can vary a lot depending on the size of the podcast, it is often a high barrier to entry. On the other hand, DAI can be bought on a CPM model with flexibility on total impressions purchased.


Host-read ads are served to everyone who listens to that podcast episode, meaning you’ll want to choose a podcast specific to the audience you want to target. “If an advertiser is looking to build brand recognition within a certain podcast audience,” said Michael Polzin, Media Planner, “host-read ads offer the name recognition that advertisers love because people trust their favorite podcast host with their time and attention.” However, if your product is relevant to a smaller group of people, DAI may be the way to go to ensure the right people hear the ad. “I caution clients with hyper-niche target audiences against host-read podcast sponsorships because of the variety of listeners who patron podcasts,” said Polzin. “Programmatic podcast campaigns tend to be a better fit for those clients because of the granularity of targeting and measurability of performance.”


Podcasts are not the most efficient placement for a direct response campaign, but there are still options for measuring performance. “The most popular way that advertisers track performance is by including an exclusive promo code in the script of the host-read ad so that conversions can be tracked by customers who use the code,” said Polzin. There are more options for measurement for dynamically inserted ads. Clicks (where applicable) and completed listen rate are reported. If a pixel is placed on the site, conversions can be measured as well.

Launch Timing

Turnaround times are also a consideration when booking a podcast campaign. DAI campaigns can be launched in a matter of days once assets are ready, while host-read campaigns rely more on inventory availability. “Host read buys often need to be booked with more advanced planning as podcasts can be booked for 2-3+ months out,” said Mullholland, “whereas dynamic ad insertions allow for flexible flighting and quick turnarounds.”


Both podcast ad types have their merits, and ultimately your goals, target audience, and budget will determine which type is best for your advertising campaign. Check out our one sheeter, or reach out to your Division-D sales representative or advertisers@divisiond.com for more information on adding podcast advertising to your next campaign.


  1. Statista, 2021. “Percentage of consumers who have ever listened to audio podcasts in the United States from 2006 to 2021”
  2. Spotify. “Host or voice actor? Who to cast for your podcast ad voiceover”

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