The Research VR Podcast looks at the science and design of virtual reality and spatial computing. I worked with the podcast host Az Balabanian to line up Jake Rubin, HaptX Founder and CEO, as a guest on the show. HaptX received a number of new business leads after Jake’s episode aired, so we looked into it as an advertising opportunity.
Why podcast sponsorship was a fit for us
While the listener base for Research VR may be relatively small, the audience has strong overlap with HaptX’s target customer segment. The listener-base consists of VR/AR developers, designers, investors, researchers, and university academics, 55% of which are from the US, and 45% are international. The small overall audience size meant that we could sponsor the podcast for a low cost relative to a mainstream podcast.
Beyond the niche audience of Research VR, podcast listeners in general are more likely to be a high-earning professional and to be well-educated.
Source: Edison Research
Podcasts tend to have a longer shelf life than alternative sponsorship opportunities. If you pay for an event sponsorship, your window of exposure is confined to the time in which that event takes place. If you pay for pre-roll on a YouTube video, you must continuously pay for that advertisement for the duration for the ad to display. If you place an ad in a magazine, the ad only gets eyeballs while the issue is on newsstands.
Listeners of podcasts are more likely to download and play archival material, especially if the podcast has evergreen interview content that’s not bound to current events.
Considerations for podcast copywriting
Podcasts are spoken and heard, not written and read. Written ad copy tends to be short, punchy, and formal. When we speak naturally, our sentences tend to be longer and sound casual. There are a number of syntax structures that aren't well-suited for audio: parentheticals, colons, em dashes, long lists, numbers. We avoided this in our copy. A major fix: our company name “HaptX” sounds a lot like “haptics” when spoken aloud. That’s why each of our ads instructed the host to spell our name and URL aloud. H-A-P-T-X dot comUsers are prone to skip podcast ads. Podcast apps tend to have skip buttons at 15 and 30 second intervals. To anticipate this, we wrote and recorded ads that are non-standard lengths: 52 seconds and 68 seconds long (including the host’s endorsement). This way users were more likely to hear the last seven seconds of our ad. We placed the call to action — the most important component of our ad — in these last seven seconds.
Podcasts are personal. Podcast ads are often read by hosts who have a trusted relationship with their listeners. In this case, Az had direct experience with our product. We gave up control of the last 15 seconds of our ad and let Az speak to the technology in his own words. (Though we did suggest that Az reference his interview with Jake on episode 86.) By empowering the host to speak for himself, the ad felt more authentic and sincere.
With all of this in mind, here are the two ads I wrote for the Research VR podcast.
Ad copy A: AutomakersHaptX Gloves are an industrial-grade tool, designed for professional VR applications. Leading automakers in Asia, Europe, and North America are using HaptX Gloves to design their new vehicles. By using VR and HaptX, they’re reducing their need for physical prototypes, saving them significant time and money. If you work for a business that would benefit from HaptX Gloves, get in touch with HaptX by emailing email@example.com. That’s partners at H-A-P-T-X dot com, and be sure to mention the Research VR podcast.Ad copy B: RecruitingDo you want to help build the future of VR? HaptX is hiring. HaptX is a team of engineers that’s researching, developing, and productizing haptic technology that makes virtual reality feel real. Ben Lang from Road to VR describes HaptX Gloves as, “The closest he’s come to touching the virtual world.” If that sounds like something you want to be a part of, visit haptx.com/careers. That’s H-A-P-T-X dot com slash careers. Be sure to reference the Research VR podcast on your application.
Rolling out the podcast ads
Our ads appeared on four podcasts from Research VR over the course of January 2019.