Podcast Advertising Report Roundup

Post ImageeMarketer has managed to garner a ton of buzz today about their forthcoming report on podcasting and marketing in which they estimate that $400 million will be spent in the space by 2011. My only real comment on the report (since I haven’t seen it) is this wonderful quote from NewTeeVee (on an unrelated post):

“The great thing about forecasts is that no one remembers the exact amount when the future finally rolls around.”

Here is a quick roundup of some great quotes from posts discussing the report:

“If you build it, they will come! Or in other words, concentrate on bringing podcasts to a bigger audience, only then can you make advertising work.”
Marketing Pilgrim

“The increase of video podcasts, which lend themselves to the kind of video ads that marketers are accustomed to developing for television, has also increased advertiser interest.”
BusinessWeek

“Show me an advertiser that wants to generically market to Podcasts with listening audiences of dozens.”
Paul Colligan

“Currently, despite some 90,000 podcasts available on the Web and close to 90 million iPods in the market, podcasting is universally thought of as a supplemental medium by advertisers.”
Mediaweek

“Every once in a while someone accidentally runs into a magic lamp and a guru pops up telling us that Podcasting has already had its 15 minutes and is a fad that is ready to pass.”
901am

“Unfortunately, for all you indy podcasters out there, this does not bode well. With all of that competition for ad dollars, the money is going to flow to folks who have ad sales reps.”
Micro Persuasion

“While I would love to see 400 Million dropped annually into the space, the podcasting listening and producing community is going to have to get a lot bigger.”
Geek News Central

“As I’ve said before, I think the bigger growth could come from simply making the entire creation process easier.”
The Viral Garden

I like the last two comments best – they are spot on.

Return of the portal? Not exactly

Post ImageOm Malik’s latest column in Business 2.0 deals with the topic of “hyperaggregation” – which is a fancy way of saying “aggregating the aggregators”. Basically, there is too much content available on the web from sites like YouTube and Flickr, and web software is evolving to help us consume it all. Om says:

Since the dawn of the Web, we’ve been plagued by too much information and too little time to consume it. It’s impossible to keep up with dozens of social networks, millions of videos, and thousands of blogs. Hyperaggregation is simply a way to do in the new-media world what old media has done for centuries: neatly package information.

Sounds a heck of a lot like the “portal” of the late 90s to me.

At least, that’s the first thing that came to mind. I thought about it a bit more though, and realized that hyperaggregation != portal. The main difference is that with hyperaggregation, you have control in most cases. Either explicit control, by entering tags or topics that you are interested in, or indirect control, by making a certain video the most popular. In the portal world, it was the portal alone that decided what content made it to the front page.

My gut “portal” thought wasn’t too far off though, as even Om admits:

Perhaps the biggest opportunity in hyperaggregation is for the biggest traditional Internet companies – the AOLs, Yahoos, and MSNs of the world.

I have to agree with Om. MSN shouldn’t be building their own video hosting service, they should be building the best video aggregator instead. Increasingly it will be the aggregator that people turn to first when looking for content.

Read: Business 2.0

Pocket HD Video Recording

Post ImageIn the marketing presentation I gave on Monday I mentioned that podcasting will increasingly take advantage of advances in mobile devices, as well as high definition recording. When I put that idea into my presentation, I was thinking about the mobile and high def parts separately, but if this little video camera is any indication, they might come as a package deal:

The research kids in Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute just announced a tiny new video camera capable of shooting at a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and a variable frame rate up to 60 frames per second.

Pretty damn intense. The camera will be on display at CeBIT in March. I can just imagine the possibilities a small, high quality camera such as this would make possible. Bring it on!

Read: Engadget

Thoughts on Digg Podcasting

Post ImageOver at Geek News Central today Todd Cochrane had some harsh words for Digg’s newest feature, their podcast portal. Most of his argument is based on the traffic he apparently isn’t receiving from Digg:

Lately though I have come to the conclusion that for all the traffic Digg gets very little if any of that traffic in the way of downloads or pure referals [sic] comes from that site.

He goes on to offer some advice to podcasters:

My advice to podcasters is this, look at the directories you are listed in and figure out if they are doing anything to build your audience or giving you equal exposure on the front of their respective websites. If they are not find sites that are and support them in your shows.

That plan of attack might have worked when podcasting was just getting started, but we’re beyond that now. I would suggest that podcasters do in fact add themselves into Digg’s directory, flawed as it might be. Why pick one directory over another? The idea isn’t to play favorites, it’s to help the audience find what they want, wherever they might be looking. There’s more to being in a directory than just getting listed on the front page.

As for Digg’s podcast portal, here are my thoughts:

  • The way you add a podcast into the directory sucks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and the feedback you get is really unhelpful.
  • Only iTunes-compatible feeds may be added into the directory. Why Digg felt the need to perpetuate Apple’s hegemony is beyond me.
  • It would be better if episodes had a “front page” as well, instead of just podcasts. Right now you can only look at episodes for a particular podcast.

The podcast section of Digg hasn’t been around very long, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be making changes over time. There’s definitely room for improvement, but the directory is not useless.

Read: Geek News Central

Google Video searches YouTube

Post ImageGoogle announced today that it has integrated YouTube results into Google Video. This is the beginning of a transition for Google Video from hosting provider to search. Liz over at NewTeeVee wonders if this is necessary:

In thinking about video search, we’ve been concerned that with the huge number of videos coming into and and video streams coming out of YouTube, there would be little need for — well — video search.

I think there’s a huge need for video search. Just because most of the videos are in one place doesn’t make the search good or effective. There’s lots of things Google can do with it’s video search product to make it the destination. I’m thinking about speech and visual recognition to improve accuracy, and other really complex things.

When it acquired YouTube, Google got more than just a video hosting site. It got unfettered access to one of the largest test beds for video search around. That’s a big asset to have when you’re trying to build an excellent search engine.

Read: NewTeeVee

Most New TV Shows Require Too Much Effort!

Post ImageI don’t watch a lot of television, save for hockey, news, and Smallville. I guess I am “an Internet child” and that’s definitely where most of my time is spent. I think there’s more to it than that, however. Almost all of the new TV shows being produced require a lot of effort from the viewer. More effort than I am willing to put in.

Take 24, for example. People are crazy about this show. I mean seriously off the reservation, like this guy:

If Jack Bauer has to catch a shark with his bare hands and speed-dry the fin so he can make a soup to restore the President’s sexual potency, I’ll be watching. If Jack Bauer is caught in the path of a fiercely-lit green energy beam made of fuckton particles in a suspended gobbledygook matrix and inadvertently is wearing a shark’s tooth necklace and become half-human, half tiger shark – I’ll be watching.

I’ve never seen an entire episode of 24, so I don’t know what the fuss is all about. I just don’t get it. And therein lies the problem. There’s no way I am going to start watching 24 now – it’s too far along. I’d be an outsider, a poser almost. I would have to go back to the very beginning and watch every episode just to catch up. And that’s just too much work.

And existing fans of the show? They can’t miss an episode, no sir. They have to record it for later if they absolutely cannot be sitting down when the new episode airs. Heaven forbid they miss one. They’d be behind, lost. Can’t have that – so they put in the effort.

There’s some old shows that are guilty, like 24, but it’s the new ones that are the worst. Just look at some of the newest shows – most pretty much require that you started watching from the beginning to really understand what’s going on. Heroes? Yup. Prison Break? Yup. Friday Night Lights? Yup. Studio 60? Yup. Ugly Betty? Yup. Jericho? Yup.

I am not sure if this trend is good or bad for television. On the one hand, networks might be limiting a show’s audience by setting the barrier of entry so high. On the other hand, these kinds of shows probably sell a lot better on DVD.

Either way, I kinda miss the old shows. The shows that didn’t require a lot of effort, nor an introduction. You could just start watching any episode and you just got it. There are notable exceptions in the current most popular shows, like CSI or Law & Order or American Idol, but for the most part, I think the new shows require too much effort.

In a way, I look forward to the day these shows are cancelled so I can just get all the DVDs.

Northern Voice 2007

Post ImageI finally registered for Northern Voice 2007 today. The annual conference has become a tradition for me, and this year the timing is perfect as it falls on the tail end of reading week. The organizers posted the schedule yesterday, and even though it is still a work in progress, it looks good. I don’t see a keynote however – perhaps it will fill the time gap from 9:30 to 10:15?

If you’d like to attend Northern Voice, you can register here.

Read: Northern Voice

Thirsty for Podcasting News in 2006

Post ImageGoogle released their annual zeitgeist for 2006 recently, and the top searches proved to be quite different than those found on Yahoo’s annual listing. Google’s top ten terms are mostly technology-related, while Yahoo’s are entertainment-related.

Also different were the news searches. Coming in at number four on the top searches for Google News is podcasting! Who knew so many people were interested in learning about what is happening in the podcasting industry!

Here are my favorite podcasting news sites:

I also subscribe to a bunch of search feeds, and news feeds from individual companies too. And every now and then you get some news from more general sites like TechCrunch or Digg. I thought this list would have been longer though. Perhaps there is room in the news space for podcasting?

Read: Google Zeitgeist

Podcasting Metrics: Complete Downloads & More

Post ImagePodcasting consultant Jason Van Orden has been writing an interesting series of blog posts on podcasting metrics. In part 4 of the series, Jason tackles the issue of measuring complete downloads, and says that he doesn’t think measuring complete downloads is “absolutely necessary” and that something “more sophisticated and qualitative” is needed in addition to download numbers.

From part 4b of the series:

Scott Bourne and Tim Bourquin provided interesting and relevant responses. They both emphasize that podcasters have a responsibility not to let advertisers hold podcasting to a higher standard than other media (i.e. magazines and newspaper) that can’t measure complete content/ad consumption.

I have to respectfully disagree.

The way that magazines, television, radio, and other media sell advertising is flawed. Everything is based on assumptions (circulation numbers in the case of magazines, random sampling in the case of TV and radio). Don’t think for a second that advertisers are happy about this system – I’m sure they’d love to know exactly how many people watched or heard or read their advertisement. Why do you think everyone loves AdSense? Cold, hard numbers. The problem with magazines, TV, and radio is that the technology to accomplish this is prohibitively complex and expensive.

Podcasting doesn’t suffer from this problem. Measuring exactly how many people have downloaded an episode is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, and while not 100% accurate, it is fairly close. I think the strategy that Scott and Tim suggest would be bad for podcasting. As the saying goes – you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Podcasting needs to be stronger than other media.

A Better Strategy

I think podcasters who wish to generate advertising revenue should provide as much data as possible, even beyond complete downloads if such data is available (more on this in a second). There are a number of reasons for doing so:

  • There would be less waste, as advertisers could spend money only on podcasts that generate views or listens of their ad.
  • More data could also allow advertisers to more appropriately target their ad, making it more effective, enjoyable, and useful.
  • In the long run, advertisers would move more dollars away from media that uses flawed assumptions to media that provides useful data. That is, podcasting’s piece of the advertising pie will grow.
  • The valuation of a particular podcast will be much more realistic.

I am sure some podcasters are bristling at my suggestion. They think that if they have to provide actual numbers, they can’t make as much as if they sold ads based on assumptions like the other media do. This idea is wrong too. Providing more data will allow advertisers to spend targeted dollars. Unlike general advertisements, an advertiser will pay much more for the ability to target an ad. The podcaster may actually end up making more money!

Podcasting’s enemy (if we need to have one) is not the advertisers as Scott and Tim suggest, it’s the other media. Give the advertisers what they want, and podcasting will prevail.

Beyond Complete Downloads

I think complete downloads are quite important. We are putting the finishing touches on a big update to Podcast Spot, and one of the new features we have added is complete downloads. We parse the request logs for you automatically, so you’ll see the number of complete downloads for each episode, usually within two hours of the download. Right now these numbers are best effort, meaning that we aren’t yet at 100% accuracy. We’ll continue to work on it though.

As I mentioned above, podcasters should strive to provide as much data as possible to advertisers. There are the obvious things like complete downloads, page views, geolocation stats, demographics, etc. There are also the less obvious things. What if you could determine if someone actually listened to or watched your entire episode, or if they skipped parts of the episode? That kind of information would be extremely valuable.

These are the types of metrics that podcasters should strive to measure. Podcasters don’t have a responsibility to hold podcasting to the low standards of other media, they have a responsibility to set the bar higher and higher.

How could Zune's software suck so badly?

Post ImagePerhaps you’ve heard on the news recently that Microsoft’s new digital media player, the Zune, is hardly flying off the shelves. I guess that’s not too surprising given the early reviews the device has received. Now I know Microsoft is pretty good at hardware (Xbox, mice and keyboards, etc.) but they are still a software company. How is it then, that they could have screwed up the software side of the Zune so badly?

Now I haven’t seen or tested a Zune, so I can’t say I have had similar experiences. And granted, not all of the reviews are so negative (indeed there are quite a few positive ones), but still. A software company should have gotten the software part absolutely right, don’t you think?