Podcasting is just getting started!

Post ImageAlex Nesbitt wonders over at Digital Podcast if podcasting is podfading. I don’t think it is, and I don’t think the graphs that Alex presents prove anything. Scott Bourne wrote a response today, but I think he sorta danced around the big point. He says:

Another reason that I think podcasting is still going strong is the confusion over the word. While people may not be searching the word “podcasting,” as often as they were a year ago, they are searching other phrases such as “online media.” Podcasting has never been a good word to describe what we do.

I do think it’s important to admit that podcasting, regardless of what you call it, is TEMPORARILY slowing down.

Scott is exactly right – the name is the root of the problem. Podcasting as a word is becoming both more encompassing and less unique. For example, we use podcasting at Podcast Spot to refer to audio and/or video, as long as it has an RSS feed attached. I have seen people use it more liberally than us too. This is quite different from 2005 when a podcast meant an MP3 file inside an RSS feed.

The heart of the issue though is not the name confusion itself, but the fact that because of the name confusion, we don’t have a good way to measure the growth of our industry. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, unless you try to measure it.

As a result, I have to disagree with Scott’s assertion that podcasting is temporarily slowing down. I don’t think it has slowed down at all – it has just become much more difficult to measure. Any “slowing” is merely an illusion.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the metrics to back that statement up. It’s an educated gut feeling at the moment.

All of that said, I think we’re just getting started. There’s tremendous potential for growth, and 2007 could be the year that it really takes off.

Read: Scott Bourne

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.

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

Marketing Presentation Audio

Post ImageLast night I gave a presentation on podcasting & marketing to students taking MARK 450 (Electronic Marketing) at the University of Alberta. I covered “what is podcasting”, Podcast Spot, some podcasting statistics, podcasting and its effects on marketing, and finished with some final thoughts. The presentation went very well and the initial feedback was very positive, so I hope the students got something out of it. I enjoyed talking to them!

We recently purchased some digital voice recorders and they arrived just yesterday afternoon. They are Olympus WS-100’s, and last night we tested them for the first time by recording my presentation. In general I’m pretty happy with them. We had one at the back of the room and one on the table in front of me. The far away recording isn’t so great, but the close range recording is quite good.

So if you’re interested, you can listen to my presentation here. The only editing I did was to remove the questions (as I didn’t have permission to post them). Otherwise it’s a straightforward recording. You can look in the show notes to see the time codes for the major topics I covered. I don’t know why, but it sounds like I was sniffling quite a bit – apologies for that!

If you have questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not going to post the slides here, but if you’re interested in them, feel free to email me.

Read: MasterMaq’s Podcast

HillaryClinton.ca Podcast

Post ImageToday I am launching a new little project of mine – a podcast about Hillary Clinton and her run at the White House. Each Sunday I’ll post a new episode with a recap of the previous week’s Hillary-related headlines. You can listen to the first episode here.

I’ll also use the podcast to test and demonstrate some of the features available at Podcast Spot. For now it’s just audio, and the weekly recap will likely remain that way, but I might do some additional episodes in the future. As I mention in the first episode, there’s about 92 weeks to go until the election. Wouldn’t it be cool if I got to interview Hillary Clinton herself during that time? Highly unlikely, but you never know.

The first episode was recorded pretty quickly this morning, so production quality might not be spectacular. I’ll work on it though. If you have feedback, I’d love to hear it!

Read: Episode 1

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

Podcasting will win big thanks to the iPhone

Post ImageThe iPhone has already had a big impact on the technology industry, what with the stock prices of both RIM and Palm falling sharply today, and it will continue to have an impact over the next couple years. Certainly when it launches this summer, we’ll find out if all the hype is justified. And there will most certainly be copycat designs.

In any case, I think the launch of the iPhone bodes well for podcasting.

Apple describes the iPhone as “a breakthrough Internet communications device” thanks to its support for Wi-Fi and EDGE. We know that it runs OS X under the hood, and that it supports Widgets. It isn’t entirely clear just yet if it’ll be possible to get a podcatcher running on the iPhone, at least from everything I have read, but the idea certainly seems plausible.

Apple’s iPhone will let you walk around with Wi-Fi Internet access in your pocket. Even if it can’t podcatch all by itself, other device manufacturers and future editions of the iPhone most certainly will. The iPhone will open up the “pocket Wi-Fi device floodgates”, so to speak.

Heck, maybe it will even prompt Microsoft to open up the Zune’s Wi-Fi capabilities.

It might not be apparent for quite a while, but I am confident that the iPhone will have nothing but a positive impact on podcasting.

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

Boring podcasts are not the answer!

Post ImageAnother day, another educator fighting podcasting because she fears students will not attend class. Liz Dreesen is a general surgeon lecturing at the University of North Carolina, and her students have asked her to podcast her anatomy lectures. She doesn’t want to do it:

I want the medical students also to learn the importance of presence, to attend our anatomy lectures, to see us in the flesh and not podcast, so they can begin to be doctors, not just technicians and knowers-of-facts.

She makes a really good argument about medicine being a “contact sport” that requires physical presence. So what to do about the attendance problem?

Podcasting consultant Leesa Barnes says the answer is to make the podcasts “boring as heck”:

In other words, make the video podcast so boring that students will use it as a backup and not as a replacement. That’s the way to provide convenience for students without sacrificing class attendance.

Sorry Leesa, but I think that advice is just plain dumb. Lectures are boring enough as it is.

I don’t know about you, but when I shell out hundreds of dollars to attend a technology conference, I do so because of the people I will meet, not the content being discussed. Sometimes the content is boring, sometimes it’s interesting, but the interaction with other people is always worth paying for.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a university lecture. I do it because I am required to in order to get that piece of paper that says I graduated. Things could be different though. In my six years of post secondary experience, I have learned that more often than not, lectures are simply boring and don’t allow for much interaction. This needs to change.

The answer to the attendance problem then, is to provide for interaction in the lectures. I don’t mean reading lecture notes and then allowing students to ask questions at the end, but real interaction. The same kind of interaction I pay for at the technology conferences. And of course, podcast it all. Make the podcasts as interesting as possible, so that students who watch them later can’t help but wish they were there.

With all that interaction going on, there will be less time to get the boring but required information across. So record it ahead of time, and make the podcasts (boring information + class interaction) an integral part of the course. If they are considered required material, they won’t be seen as replacements for class. Tell students to watch the podcast and then come to class and discuss it.

For the most part I think the way our education system works is, for lack of a better adjective, crappy. Podcasts and other emerging technologies might enable us to make some positive changes, but only if we use them correctly.

Read: Podonomics

Google tests Audio Ads for radio…but why?

Post ImageGoogle started testing their radio advertising service, dubbed Google Audio Ads, today. It’s one of the hottest topics in the blogosphere right now. We have known about it for a long time, and it sounds really great (in terms of the technology), but I still don’t get it. Let me explain.

Given this:

The radio industry won’t want to hear this. Advertising dollars are shifting online faster than analysts anticipated. In fact, advertisers will soon spend as much money on the Internet as they do on the airwaves, according to a newly released eMarketer study.

Why this?

Google Inc. has started testing a long-awaited radio advertising service…[that] will help sell advertising on more than 700 radio stations in more than 200 U.S. metropolitan markets. Google hopes to eventually sign up more than 5,000 stations, according to documents shown potential advertisers.

I can think of two potential reasons:

  1. Google wants to ease the transition for traditional advertisers looking to move online.
    I don’t know how good an argument this is, given that so many companies are already advertising online. It does make a certain amount of sense though.
  2. It’s not about radio at all. This is really Google’ first baby step towards rich media advertising on the web.
    Obviously, this is the reasoning that I prefer. Bring on audio ads for podcasting!

I suppose another alternative would be that Google feels there is still enough money to be made in radio advertising that it’s worth trying. My gut feeling though is that Google Audio Ads are destined for something far beyond just radio.