Steve Rubel (Micro Persuasion blog) ponders the possibilites of podvertising (i.e., advertising in, and around, podcasts).
It’s an interesting read, both from the perspective of the solid job Rubel does laying out the (obvious) near term possibilities… as well as for indirectly highlighting inherent limitations of Apple’s iPod as a marketing platform. (In fairness on the ‘obvious’ comment… the blog post is a cross-posting of an article intended for a wider, less technical audience, who may not know what a Podcast is, and probably haven’t started thinking of how to frame the opportunity Podcasting represents from a marketing perspective.)
Rubel lists a number of options, including Audio Spots, Sponsorship, Promotions, RSS Ads and Rolling Your Own (i.e., doing your own Podcast).
While there’s room for argument, the “problem” with all of these options from the iPod-playback perspective is that they are all branding oriented, as the iPod is not (yet) a viable direct response vehicle… I find this somewhat ironic, given that Podcasting was birthed on the Internet, leverages RSS, aggregators, MP3 (et al) codecs, intermediary middleware (iPodder) and on and on.
What we have here is a ‘last mile’ problem (of a sort)…
Of course, this “problem” becomes much more solvable if we think about Podcasting on, well frankly, smarter devices, such as Smartphones and PDAs. There, given just a bit more effort, we could allow for interactive Podcast content, be that voting in a listener survey, requesting additional info from an advertiser/sponsor, or any other activity reasonable on a small form factor device.
I totally agree with you that Adland ought to be very interested in the use of Podcast as a medium for marcomms.
However, it is not just about direct response though. Although the traditional 30 second spot may well be on it’s last legs, sponsorship is still doing very well as an above-the-line route.
The cut-to-commercial approach probably would not provide the impact needed to attract advertisers. However, full exclusive sponsorship is more likely to tempt.
Interactivity is of course the future; but in the mean time there is no reason why successful Podcast cannot attract advertisers.
Or is there? One crucial and potentially expensive problem facing would-be commercial casters is that they don’t really know who is tuning-in. Whilst there is some tracking available; it will not provide the kind of information that advertisers and more importantly media agencies need.
Regardless of concerns over distribution, direct-response, etc there is a fundamental problem of now knowing who the audience is.