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360 View Podcasting


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Our predictions for podcasting.

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360 View Podcasting

  1. 1. The 360 View Podcasting: The Pod Has Landed Winter 2005
  2. 2. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded 1 Ralston360 Executive Summary 36 0 V I E W I V: P O D C AST I N G A new generation of “Pod People” has landed. And unlike the screeching zombies of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, these modern-day Podsters are not content to take over bodies at the behest of the mother ship. Oh no. These Pod People, freshly hatched from the Internet, want to capture that rarest of modern treasures: content they want, when they want it. They’re poised to topple the bastions of traditional media with nothing more than a pair of iPod ear-buds and a single bone- chilling request: “Take me to your Podcast.” Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating. A little. But something exciting is going on in the communications industry. You guessed it: Podcasting. I’ve seen Internet ideas sweep the virtual landscape before, but Podcasting is moving across the online marketing terrain with exceptional velocity. In October 2004, there were 24 hit results on Google for the word “Podcast.” Today, it’s 83 million. Consider “Pod Climber” and “Formula Pod,” two audio Podcasts about rock climbing and Formula 1 racing. Run out of a simple recording studio in Bend, Oregon, Pod Climber has a monthly audience of 54,000 listeners. To put this audience number in perspective, consider that the monthly circulation of Climbing Magazine, the industry leader, is 34,000. Climbing Magazine is 34 years old. “Pod Climber” is only seven months old. Yeah. Wow. So what is Podcasting and why should you care? Glad you asked.
  3. 3. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded “Podcasting.” In the dictionary, right next to “zowie.” Podcasting is a means of distributing audio programs via the Internet. Users subscribe to a number of programs, and then listen to the material at a time that they choose. Translation: Podcasts are audio shows of various lengths that are sent directly to your computer via syndication. Like a newspaper subscription delivered daily to your lawn, Podcasts are delivered right to your computer. You don’t have to remember to visit specific websites to get updates, giving you time to do other things. Like read our white papers. Today, the great majority of Podcasts are free. All of them let you get the audio programming you want, when you want it with very minimal effort. By the way, the name Podcast comes from the combination of Pod from iPod, the most often used MP3 player, and broadcasting. But you probably already figured that out. The new kid on the Blog. No, it’s not the name of the newest boy band. Thank God. It’s what Podcasting is. Or was. A little history lesson: Podcasting was a minor media player in 2004 and early 2005 as the technology employed to deliver the programs, Really Simple Syndication or RSS, became standardized and gained distribution. RSS allows Internet users to subscribe to websites that have provided RSS feeds. These are typically sites that change or add content regularly. Still with me? At first, RSS gave the builders of text-based Blogs the opportunity to distribute new text postings directly to interested readers. The same technology used for text delivery allows Podcast program subscribers to get their audio Podcasts delivered. 2
  4. 4. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded While RSS is clearly a good idea, it is simply too difficult to use unless you are a dedicated web user with a “be the first on your block” (or Blog) technology mind-set. To make all of this magic work, you need to download one of at least 45 popular and somewhat geeky RSS feed readers or aggregators and figure out how to make it do its magic. This is a bit too Palo Alto for most of us (I am not talking to the tech-cognoscenti here). However, in the past year Google, Yahoo! and MSN have helped us out by adding user-friendly RSS to their personalized sections. Everyday users do not have to download anything and do not have to read a RSS user manual to subscribe to the feeds they want – RSS becomes invisible just like html. They have no need to ever hear the name RSS again. The world dramatically changed in May 2005 with the introduction of audio Podcasting programs to Apple’s iTunes 30 million music store customers (see Fig. 1 on page 4). Apple once again revolutionized the Internet landscape and took the not-so-simple Really Simple Syndication and made it, well, really, really simple. With one click, iTunes 4.9 made it possible for us to subscribe to different audio feeds and have them automatically delivered to iTunes and then transferred to your iPod (or if you prefer, just to your computer). Apple allows Podcast producers to add their listings for free and added a comprehensive user-friendly directory. This is very important because you could be the next Podcast producer just like our friends at Pod Climber. Audio Podcasting recently gained additional energy with the birth of Yahoo! Podcasts (see Fig. 2 on page 4). Yes, more one- click ease and a directory of hundreds of Podcasts. Beautiful. 3
  5. 5. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded 4 Fig. 1: iTunes Podcast section on iTunes Music Store Fig. 2: Yahoo! Podcasts
  6. 6. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded The Pod People cometh. “Pod People” jokes aside, the power of Podcasting lies in its ability to give consumers the information and entertainment they want, when they want it, which will ultimately help marketers reach and influence their audiences in new ways. I’m not the only one to notice this. Podcasting is getting hot. You know something is up when Katie and Matt, the quintessential two-peas-in-a-pod, discuss Podcasting on the TODAY Show. In fact, according to April 2005’s PEW Internet Study, one of the most reliable predictors of growth, by the end of 2006 there will be 10 million Podcast users. I am convinced that they may be off by at least 50%. Why? Two days after release of Podcasting on iTunes, Apple reported one million Podcast subscriptions. Two…days! According to Business Week (May 16, 2005): “Over the past six months, the number of Podcasts has jumped 25-fold to 5,302 feeds in mid-May.” Uh, that was before iTunes and Yahoo! democratized Podcasting. From last July: “Researchers at The Diffusion Group predicted this week that the U.S. Podcast audience will climb from 840,000 last year to 56 million by 2010. By that time, three-quarters of all people who own portable digital music players will listen to Podcasts, up from less than 15 percent last year,” the digital entertainment research group said. Additional insights come from Yahoo!’s October 2005 white paper “RSS – Crossing into the Mainstream,” which states that 28% of Internet users are aware of Podcasting, but only 2% currently subscribe to Podcasts, pointing to a clear growth area for publishers and marketers. Yes, Pod People are indeed everywhere and those who haven’t been assimilated yet, will be. This, as it turns out, is a good thing. 5
  7. 7. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded You see, lots of different people use Podcasts. The current ticket to Podcast membership is the desire to listen to the spoken word and the money to own an MP3 player to take your Podcasts with you. Today’s Podcast users are older and more educated than you might imagine. But don’t take my word for it. According to Billboard Radio Monitor (August 19, 2005): “A survey of over 8,000 American consumers by pollsters CLX has revealed that Podcasting is most popular with those over 45, with 21% of those questioned listening to Podcasts. This compares to just 13% of 15 to 24-year olds.” Okay, so now you know what Podcasting is. Here’s why you should care. Like the Digital Video Recorders (think TiVo) that came before it, Podcasting gives people the ability to control their media consumption. This shift from passive consumption to consumer control is important to any marketer who uses media to reach and win the minds and hearts of consumers. Just like TiVo and TV, people opt-in to receive the Podcasts that interest them, wait for these Podcasts to be delivered, then listen or watch when they want to. With TiVo I can avoid commercials and time-shift my viewing for my personal convenience. Podcasting gives me the same freedom and now portability. I no longer have to listen to terrestrial radio or watch airline movies when traveling on business. I can readily—and aurally—digest the information I need with fresh Podcasts that keep me up to speed with latest thinkers in Silicon Valley (“InfoTalk”), tune me into my old hometown (WNYC’s Brian Leher), provide a preview on my upcoming travels (“Three Minutes in Shanghai”) and give me the scoop on what’s popular in pop culture (Slate Magazine). I can create my very own personal programming with a single click. It seems that Do It Yourself-ism isn’t confined to the aisles of the local Home Depot. 6
  8. 8. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded It gets better. Apple just cranked Podcasting up another major notch with the introduction of iTunes Videocasting and its new crop of video- capable iPods that allow users to play videos, listen to music and display photos. I actually used this technology last week while stuck in a mountain pass traffic jam for two hours. (Don’t ask.) I was out of radio and cell range, but lo and behold! My trusty iPod was loaded with the latest episode of “Desperate Housewives,” courtesy of an iTunes Videocast. Talk about better living through technology. At the time of this writing, there are only 78 Videocasts on iTunes. These are a combination of the somewhat technoid DV “GearTalk” and the now famous “Rocketboom” (see Fig. 3 below). Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine suggests that despite this modest beginning, Videocasting is poised for great things. “I point out all the things Rocketboom doesn’t have: expensive studios, equipment, staff, lawyers, deals, marketing budgets,” Jarvis said three weeks before Apple introduced the easiest way to get Videocasts. “But they do have audience. Rocketboom serves at least 60,000 downloads a day. Compare that with Crossfire’s audience on CNN: 150,000. So Rocketboom has more than a third of the big network show’s audience at a fraction of the cost. And, by the way, CNN’s audience is near retirement age, while Rocketboom’s fans (excluding me) are young enough to be CNN viewers’ grandchildren.” Don’t worry. More Videocasts are on the way. This is a very hot space with new, mostly re-purposed shows like NBC Nightly News and Nightline and personal I-want-to-be-Scorsese mini-films on the horizon. The options—and opportunities—are limitless. 7 Fig. 3: Rocketboom
  9. 9. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded It’s a brave new marketing world. There’s no denying that the Podcasting invasion is in full swing. So what’s a marketing professional to do? Of course, “How to Use Podcasting and Videocasting to Reach Vast Vertical Markets” merits its very own white paper, but here is the top line of what you should know and do. Yes, it’s still early. Just think of this as Podcasting’s spring training. First, the opportunity: People are very busy. If you can now give them a way to get “home delivery” so they can watch or listen to your message when they want, everyone wins. To put it another way, direct personal delivery to a constituency that has actively asked for your message is good. Very good. Audio and video programming will take on a new life as Podcasting allows them to be delivered with greater ease. Podcasting provides a delivery tool that works harder, and actually gets through better, than email. Let’s face it. E-mail newsletters are so 2004. People have unique entertainment and business information needs. Microcasting works to deliver a targeted message to a wide array of very interested markets. -- Now, the how to use. 8
  10. 10. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded Here are a few examples of how marketers can use Podcasting to reach external markets and to speak with internal constituencies: On the simplest level, just sponsor a couple of targeted Podcasts and Videocasts. Lexus now sponsors KCRW’s Podcasts. Shouldn’t Robert Mondavi sponsor “Grape Radio?” C’mon folks this is the easy way for you to tell your boss that you are on the cutting edge of Podom. And, it isn’t like these shows can’t pull large audiences. “This Week In Tech”, arguably the number one Podcast, has over 200,000 weekly listeners. Produce your own category-specific audio and video shows. Take advantage of what’s essentially the newest broadcast medium. IBM has created a series of Podcasts now running on iTunes including “IBM and the Future of Shopping.” Whirlpool created “The American Family” (see Fig.4 below). What could you produce? I know that you can be a bit more – uh - more exciting shall we say. Create a new form of active audio and video collateral materials. Why are there so many out-of-date paper-based brochures? This is another nail in the ink and paper coffin. Deliver audio and video press releases that have life to them. The big players will. Why shouldn’t you? Do video demos of new products and send them to your Evangelists and the bored press. Make your CEO, COO or CTO a star. I see a raise coming. Talk directly with employees and shareholders via the delivery of Podcasting news events. 9 Fig. 4: Whirlpool’s “The American Family” Podcast
  11. 11. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded They come in peace. And it’s time to get a piece of the action. Despite the fact that the acronym RSS will quickly die away, the syndication of Podcasts is here to stay and will begin to play an increasingly important role in marketing programs. Just as we discussed a couple of years ago in our white paper on the TiVo effect, consumer control of the media and personalization is a good thing for marketers. Moreover, it is a great thing for forward-thinking marketers with a vision and the desire to try the new. This vision will require marketers to start to think more like editors and journalists. More like producers than ad-builders. More about conversations than lecturers. More two-way than one-way. More niche than mass. The tough-love reality is that unlike push media (TV and even Web 1.0), syndication and Podcasting requires a new breed of marketers with the skill-sets to create marketing messages that consumers will actually choose to consume. I’ve got to tell you folks, it is more difficult to create content that people choose to listen to than it is to force-feed messaging via hit and run commercials. That said; imagine hitting RSS and Podcasting’s sweet spot. We will go from having a large percentage of our messages ignored to having them be anticipated. What a concept. No, this is not the death of old media. In fact, we believe that it is imperative that old media (which still dominates in audience reach by the way) and these new technologies work seamlessly together in a perfect 360º world. Whew, I knew I had to get that in. 1 0
  12. 12. The 360 View Podcasting:ThePodHasLanded We want you. We are looking for that handful of marketers that are willing to take the leap into Podcasting and Videocasting. We have been developing global, national and regional marketing strategies leading to stand-out audio and video programming for 20 years. To add to our core competencies, we have assembled a team of experienced Podcasters, Bloggers, writers, art directors, animators, audio and video producers and Internet entrepreneurs. We have the tools and experience to get you started on your journey. Just call me at 541-388-2003 or send an email to Give me a critical marketing objective and fifteen minutes and I’ll give you your Podcast strategy. I mean it. Peter Levitan 1 1 W H AT I S T H E 36 0 V I E W ? It’s a series of white papers featuring marketing insights from Ralston360 CEO Peter Levitan. The 360 View provides business and marketing professionals with new perspectives on what makes marketing communications work. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Not in theory. But in the real world, right now. To get a fresh outlook on the business of creating, nurturing and maintaining Delighted Customers, check out Peter’s next 360 View. You’ll find a visionary approach to marketing communications. And a 360º view of how to make it work. Past 360 Views can be seen at
  13. 13. W E D E L I V E R Ralston360 is dedicated to helping clients exceed marketing objectives and ROI goals. We are dedicated to getting our clients and their messages noticed. We do not have a one-size-fits-all solution, and recognize that the most effective program is based on the right brand strategy, advertising, direct response or grass roots marketing. Our mantra is simple: We help our clients acquire, stimulate and retain Delighted Customers. W H Y W E D E L I V E R Ralston360 is a full-service marketing company with 20 years experience in national and local markets. Our management has worked in major agencies in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Minneapolis and London. We offer strategic research and guidance leading to effective marketing solutions for print, broadcast, corporate ID, collateral, direct marketing, trade marketing and the Internet. W H O W E H AV E D E L I V E R E D FO R Just a few of our clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California: ACCENT OPTICAL TECHNOLOGIES–the global leader in optoelectronic process controls BANK OF THE CASCADES—nationally recognized Northwest bank CLEAR CHOICE HEALTH PLANS—Medicare-Plus insurance program IDAHO POWER—publicly traded regional electric utility LEGALZOOM.COM—The leading online legal resource THE OLD SPAGHETTI FACTORY—39 restaurants across America SEASWIRL BOATS—International sport and fishing boat manufacturer SUNRIVER RESORT—the Northwest’s leading golf and destination resort And some clients from our staff’s deep, dark past: ADIDAS INTERNATIONAL AMEX AT&T COCA-COLA GENERAL MILLS JOHNSON & JOHNSON NORTHWEST AIRLINES PBS SARA LEE SUZUKI We make it easy to reach Ralston360: 877 577 5790 toll free
  14. 14. 19797 Village Office Ct. Bend, Oregon 97702 877-577-5790 fax 541-388-4381 2000 Post St. #332 San Francisco, CA 94115 415-440-3608 Bend_San Francisco