Saturday, April 23, 2005

PODCAST Guidance: Where to go to hear or be heard in the MP3 revolution

This post is to encourage you to visit some of the existing directories of PODCASTs that have been established.

Additionally, the following sites, provide a bit of "How To" Podcast

Please post if you have an iPod and are up for trying to create a PodCast.

1 comment:

NMThoughtLeader said...

This article does just as the title implies. Further help for figuring out podcasting, this important digital media trend...-KM

Podcasting Demystified
by Joel Gehman, Refinery, Monday, June 6, 2005
OVER THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS, people from all corners of our agency have been pinging me about podcasting. Alas, my attempts to ignore them have failed. What follows is an overdue response to their queries, plus some observations about how strategic marketers might put podcasts to work.

First, a definition: podcasting allows online audio content to be delivered via RSS, the same XML format used to syndicate Web sites and blogs. The term "podcasting" is a portmanteau of iPod and broadcasting, and first appeared circa early 2004. Despite this etymology, an iPod is not required--any MP3 player or computer will suffice.

That said, having an iPod helps. According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project podcasting data memo, of the 22 million American adults who own an iPod or other MP3 player, 29 percent of them report having downloaded a podcast from the web. That gives podcasts an audience of more than 6 million. Not bad considering that XM and Sirius so far only have a combined 5.3 million satellite radio subscribers. And podcasting is already mainstream enough to be the subject of a BusinessWeek special report.

So who are these iPod owners? Generalizing broadly from the Pew Internet data memo, iPod owners are likely to be men, minorities, under 40, living in households earning $50,000 or more, online for more than 6 years, and broadband-connected at both home and work.

In contrast to iPod owners, podcast listeners are evenly split between men and women. Nearly half of iPod owners 18-28 years old have downloaded a podcast, versus only 20 percent of iPod owners over 29 years old. Surprisingly, broadband and dial-up users are both just as likely to have downloaded a podcast. Expect the ranks of podcast listeners to swell on the heels of Apple's announcement that iTunes 4.9 will support podcasting.

From my perspective, podcasting represents the intersection of three powerful trends: digital audio, personal journalism, and timeshifting. Or, stated another way, iPod + blogging + Tivo = podcasting. First, most podcasters deliver their files via MP3. Second, users subscribe to podcasts created largely by other individuals, not big media, much like blogs. Third, users listen when they want, just like Tivo.

From a content perspective, podcasts range from business, education, and religion to comedy, music, and sports. For example, Podcast Alley lists over 3,000 podcasts and more than 30,000 individual episodes. The directory catalogs more than 4,000 podcasts in over a dozen categories. With 40,000 active podcasts, claims "the world's largest catalog of podcast-ready music." Another site worth exploring is Podcasting News.

My random office poll revealed that podcast listener favorites include: Science@NASA, various movie review podcasts, The Word Nerds, a weekly podcast about language, and a variety of foreign language podcasts. Another popular genre is podsafe music, typically unsigned artists who release music under the Creative Commons license. For example, Podcast NYC offers a variety of podsafe programming.

So how can marketers put podcasting to work? Obviously, enterprising musicians should start podcasting new releases, audio liner notes, interviews, and even concerts. And talk shows are a natural. For example, Rush Limbaugh has announced he will offer subscribers access to a podcast of his show. Museums and visitors' bureaus should look into walking tour podcasts. For example, the Dali exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art could easily have been narrated via podcast.

In the travel category, visitors to--say, Venice or Disney World--would happily download podcasts exploring things to do and places to visit. Food marketers should look into gastrocasting, perhaps following in the footsteps of Podchef. I'm an avid wine collector, and would readily subscribe to podcasts from my favorite winemakers.

On a more serious note, pharmaceutical companies should look into delivering medical education to physicians via medcasting. Podcasts are also a great way to tackle sensitive or taboo topics. Financial services companies could partner with authors like Suze Orman or Robert Kiyosaki to produce podcasts that reinforce their key messages about retirement planning or wealth management. Yet others have noted the increasing popularity of so-called "godcasting."

In short, iPods are becoming ubiquitous. Podcasting embraces that popularity and extends it by tapping into the power of blogging and Tivo. Add in the made-for-the-masses podcasting support promised in the next version of iTunes, and the time seems right for marketers to embrace podcasting. Thinking about the content side of the equation, as can be seen in some of the examples above, it doesn't take much imagination for marketers in almost any industry to find ways to leverage podcasts.

If you're a marketer with a podcasting story, send it my way!

Joel Gehman is senior vice president of client services for Refinery, an Advertising Age top 25 interactive agency. He is the author of more than 100 articles on Internet marketing. He can be reached via