‘Podcast advertising is often the afterthought… that needs to change’: Ralph van Dijk and Andy Maxwell launch specialist agency

In an Australian first, a specialist podcast media agency has officially launched, founded by respected audio leaders Ralph van Dijk and Andy Maxwell. Speaking to Mumbrella, the pair said there was a clear need for better podcast advertising solutions.

Having soft launched in January, EarMax has been formed in response to advertising wastage and jarring ads for audiences. Its services included podcast media buying, sponsorships, and creative production through its sister agency, van Dijk’s creative agency Eardrum.

Van Dijk, one of Australia’s best-known audio advertising executive, has teamed up with Maxwell who’s experience spans agencies including WPP’s Superunion (now Design Bridge & Partners), as well as global broadcast specialists Markettiers and 4DC in London.

Van Dijk told Mumbrella there was a clear gap in the market, and a problem that needed to be solved.

“You ask any podcast listener, ‘Is there a problem with the advertising you hear?’, and you’ll get a pretty unanimous yes,” he explained.

“Podcast advertising, at its worst, is teaching people to skip, and that’s not a habit we want people to get into – so with the right product, to the right audience, and the right creative, the advertising would instead be absolutely seamless, and that’s what we’re endeavouring to create.”

Maxwell added: “You only have to listen to a podcast to hear a really bad ad. And that’s where we aligned and said, okay, there’s definitely something to solve. Globally, there’s not enough time being spent on these plans, and it’s an area where small nuances can make huge difference.”

While marketers and agencies know that making ads fit for purpose is key, the context in a podcast environment is very different, according to van Dijk.

“It’s such an intimate medium. It’s one-on-one, it’s you and the podcaster. So, if you’re an advertiser trying to enter this environment, you need to appear as much a fan of that show as the listener, to make it more seamless.”

Despite 48% of Australians tuning into podcasts monthly, according to the latest Infinite Dial report, podcast advertising typically only gets a fraction of a media budget – and EarMax hopes to change that.

“It’s crazy to me that huge brands with massive, massive media budgets will spend hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, on their advertising, but only skim on the creative that is heard,” Maxwell told Mumbrella.

“We’re not talking huge sums of money to do a really top podcast creative, but if brands just invest that little bit more time, energy and money, the difference that it can have is massive.

“Podcast advertising is often the afterthought, it probably gets only 1% of a brand’s overall media spend, so therefore it only gets that amount of attention,” he added. “But that really needs to change.”

Early successes for the agency include campaigns for ANZ Bank and Explore Worldwide.


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