17 May 2005

Making Podcasting Pay

Durex condoms needed a racier advertising environment than FCC rules would allow on TV or terrestrial radio, so they took their dollars to podcasters Dawn and Drew of “The Dawn and Drew Show.” A few of those dollars, anyway. It was an “incredibly small” investment according to the SVP / media chief at Durex’s agency (AdAge, reg required); small, no doubt, in proportion to the listener base of “The Dawn and Drew Show.”

So, then, as the commercialization of podcasting begins, what’s in it for marketers?

For Durex, a few ad dollars put against “The Dawn and Drew Show” landed them some positive, on-brand press attention, not to mention a media channel outside the jurisdiction of FCC rules. Presumably a handful of podcast hosts will eventually reach large enough audiences that advertising in their programs becomes practical for media buyers. Other podcasters will reach a meaningful constituency by banding together, either online or—as Infinity Radio began testing earlier this week at KYOU ( in San Francisco—as a slot on the AM dial. When they do, these podcasters and podcast networks will offer marketers an opportunity to get in front of demographic segments that have abandoned current mainstream media outlets, such as males 18-24 who show up less and less these days in television’s Nielsen ratings. And, to the extent podcast listeners do so with earphones tucked into their ears, marketers might just have a way to cut through the cacophony of today’s ad-impression overload.

This is great for promoters whose brands go nicely alongside Howard Stern or Dawn and Drew, but does podcasting offer anything for more serious business-minded marketers?

ZDNet’s David Berlind actually beat Dawn and Drew to the punch: He sold ads in his IT Matters podcasts back in April via eBay (Podcasting News), and donated his own “incredibly small” payday to the 2004 Tsunami Relief Fund. But despite his stature as a leading podcast voice among business and IT audiences, his odds of developing a big-reach advertising platform are far worse than Dawn and Drew’s.

The gold-rush enthusiasm surrounding podcasting (fueled by the “monetization” potential of the roughly 25MM iPod or other MP3 users in the US) reminds me of streaming-video advertising in 2001. That year broadband Internet connections—the technical infrastructure required to enjoy a passable video experience—hit nearly 25 million US households, critical mass for ad-supported cable TV networks (Broadband Reports). The killer app (with killer reach among these broadband-connected consumers) was just around the corner. Four years later streaming-video content and marketing may be catching up with the 2001 hype. Maybe. And the success stories so far (ESPN Motion, Yahoo’s, Atom Films or CNET’s Gamespot) still don’t provide especially efficient vehicles for B2B marketers to connect with business buyers.

While all eyes watched and waited for that streaming-ad killer app (did Subservient Chicken, who arrived on the scene three years later, deliver??), 2001 also quietly ushered in the era of B2B webcasting. Registration-required webcasts—like ad-supported streaming media—were made possible by the pervasiveness of broadband connections. But unlike its sexy streaming cousin, the webcast model succeeded with small numbers. Marketers gladly paid $25-100 for each viewer since one-to-one engagement and lead-capture via webcasts cost substantially less than similar interaction with prospective customers at face-to-face events. Webcast publishers (like CNET Networks, Ziff Davis Media and IDG) could cover production costs as long as a few hundred business buyers were willing to share their contact info in exchange for deep, relevant and professional content.

I see a similar opportunity for B2B marketers to leverage podcasts: intensive educational content—“fact-based marketing collateral,” to steal a phrase from a friend on Oracle’s marketing team—that will appeal to high-value niche audiences. I’ve got to believe there is enormous value to a B2B marketer who implants a few hundred portable editions of his or her technical audiocast onto iPods of serious business customers.

Since most of you ChasNote subscribers witnessed the early days of streaming-video hype (and helped shape today's reality), I want to enlist you to do the same with B2B podcasting. I've moved ChasNote to a blog platform to facilitate sharing of ideas, to argue over the above premise, and to start testing the models.

Do I have any takers?

If we can build out a pilot of some kind, I’ll report on our case study in a future ChasNote, making you an instant celebrity among the elite crowd that reads this newsletter. Hey, perhaps we can even win some coverage from the MSM! How about it?


  • Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

    I have a podcasting site. It pretty much covers podcasting related stuff.

    Come and check it out if you get time :-)

    By Blogger podcasting, at 8:45 AM  

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  • Chas Edwards this is great!
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  • Hey Chas Edwards

    I ran acrossed your blog and Making Podcasting Pay caught my eye. I thought I would stop and take a look.


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