Podcasting and vodcasting (define) are beginning to show signs of becoming a powerful new channel for businesses to communicate with their customers. Useful content can be consumed online and in the mobile environment via iPods and other MP3 players. Why not incorporate this channel with that of cell phones and mobile devices?
I touched base with Twelve Horses' Robert Payne, marketing manager, and Josh Kenzer, director of business development, to get the scoop on podcasting and the impact mobile will have on podcasting. I met Kenzer and Payne a few months ago when Reno, NV hosted the Diggnation podcast to promote podcasting and the local Reno-Tahoe community. Diggnation is a technology news show that's quickly grown to over 150,000 subscribers. Today, it's one of the highest ranking technology vodcasts and podcasts. Twelve Horses is a relationship marketing and messaging company that crosses the two media types featured in today's column: podcasting and mobile.
Podcasts are niche. They can basically be found on every possible topic you can think of. According to Payne, podcasting is a cost-effective conduit to customers, prospects, and leads to educate, inform, and discuss subjects that pertain to the podcaster. It doesn't require a lot of rehearsal or production time as subscribers seem to prefer a more casual conversation style. Basically, real-world working professionals talk about subjects that matter to us with the hope our experience and perspectives shine through.
Podcast and blogging, two social media types, often go hand in hand to provide an inexpensive means to target consumers, drive usage and, ultimately, brand awareness. Podcasting is a one-way communication form. Add blogging, and it becomes a two-way social media type with a high level of interactivity, transparency, and credibility.
How do you offer a podcast? Many companies are actively working on productizing and packaging podcasting for resale. The issue is driving packaged pricing that's beneficial for all players, vendors and clients alike. Podcasting uses RSS feeds to syndicate content online so it's easy to find and obtain, and software like iTunes helps subscribe, organize, and download to a player. How could adoption be made easier?
Enter mobilecasting (define). The benefits of using a mobile device for podcasting are clear. Mobile allows you to establish the one-to-one dialogue with the consumer anytime and anywhere. As network quality improves and mobile phones become more feature-rich, with added storage capacity and stereo capabilities, consumers will have more options to access their favorite programs.
"As handsets evolve and become more sophisticated, we will see the convergence of MP3 players and mobile devices," said Kenzer. "Mobile will provide a new and different channel to reach your audience and an alternate, unique channel in which to advertise your product and/or service."
"Podcasting provides a low-cost option to leverage your existing campaign," added Payne, who believes podcasting can complement many existing initiatives.
Network speeds and capabilities were certainly a significant issue once, but with new 3G networks being deployed, this will soon no longer the case. Awareness is certainly key. Podcasting attracts a niche audience on every topic you can think of, but it isn't something mobile consumers are after on a mass scale. A limitation to adoption may be the carrier's current date pricing, podcasting accessibility, or simply the consumer's desire to watch or listen to a recording on her mobile device.
Most podcasts are MP3 files, which are already compatible with many mobile devices. Many ring tones can be downloaded as MP3 files, in fact. Thus, distributing content via podcasts to mobile phone users represents an opportunity for companies that utilize podcasts in their marketing mix to interact with consumers in the mobile world. Building awareness is the challenge.
Two pretty neat applications that cross mobile and podcasting hail from New York City. One is a futuristic application from Pop2Life, which is developing a link between iPods and terrestrial radio. Eventually, iTunes customers who hear a song on their radios will be able to link directly to the iTunes catalog via their mobile devices. The songs will have been downloaded to their iPods the next time they access their iTunes accounts.
The other is a technology-enabling platform from Juice Wireless. That company is working on an initiative to mobilecast audio and video files to mobile handsets. Juice's technology allows any user to create audio and video files and have the content stream to a mobile device.
With applications like this, I expect mobilecasting to gain traction.
How will these two emerging media connect? Watch this column for more developments. For more on podcasting, check out John Furrier's PodTech.net.
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