Let me confess: I’m not an expert in podcasting. But I recognize the potential of having so many viewers and listeners consume self-selected media in this very intimate way. So today and next time, I’ll explore the online media and marketing opportunities around podcasting.
Though the marketing opportunities associated with podcasts are clear, how media buyers can insert their ads into podcasts isn’t obvious and tracking actual listeners and viewers of those inserted ads is even less obvious.
Still, people everywhere listen to and watch their iPods and iPhones or listen to or view podcasts on their computers. Many podcasts have huge audiences, and someday soon those audiences may rival those of any network television or radio show. (Could entire feature-length movies one day be released through sponsored podcasts?)
To get our heads around podcasting a little more, I talked to a couple people who know much more than I do on the topic. Today, my interview with Greg Cangialosi, an author of what I consider to be the podcasting bible.
Harry Gold: Please tell us who you are, what you do professionally, and why you are a podcasting expert.
Greg Cangialosi: Greg Cangialosi, president and CEO of Blue Sky Factory. We are an e-mail service provider based in Baltimore, MD. While I am an expert in e-mail marketing and my organization focuses on maximizing the e-mail channel for our clients, we also like to stay on the cutting edge of new marketing media. As a result of this, I also have become very knowledgeable and have an incredible amount of corporate podcasting experience and expertise and have had the opportunity to produce podcasts for organizations like Disney, Verizon Wireless, Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, Dow Chemical, Raytheon, and Waters Corporation.
HG: Please give us the high-level elevator pitch/description of your new book.
GC: The book is officially titled “Podcast Academy: The Business Podcasting Book: Launching, Marketing, and Measuring Your Podcast” and was published by Focal Press, a division of Elsevier. The book is targeted at the corporate/business audience, everything from small business to Fortune 100. The core audience includes business owners, CMOs , VPs of marketing, marketing managers, public relations professionals, agency account executives, etcetera. Anyone who may be involved in the marketing or corporate communications for an organization will find great value in why they should be adding podcasting and new media as a channel to the marketing mix.
The book is split up into four sections. The first covers a brief history of podcasting, why it matters, and its growth and validation as a medium. We also cover the emergence of corporate podcasting over the past two years and highlight several case studies: what worked, what didn’t, and what you need to consider to get your organization’s initiative off the ground. In the second section, we cover the planning process an organization needs to go through to produce an effective podcast. In the third section, we cover the production planning, including the high-level technical aspects, all the way down to the legal considerations an organization needs to be aware of. Finally, in the fourth section we focus on how to get your podcast out into the marketplace. How to market and develop your audience and how to engage and retain your audience. There is also an incredible chapter on how to monetize your podcast if you are a content producer or a business looking to monetize your asset. We cover the entire spectrum from A to Z.
HG: Do you think podcasting will create viable media products that online planners and buyers will be interested in?
GC: This medium is maturing at a rapid pace and has already proven itself to be a highly targeted, relevant, and, most important, measurable channel for marketers. So I believe without a doubt from a media-buying perspective, we will see some very interesting opportunities for media buyers and marketers to get engage their target audiences. One of the most interesting thing about podcasting/new media is that its most attentive and active consumers subscribe to the media, so you have a highly targeted niche audience to get in front of in most cases. There are podcasts literally on knitting, antique cars, music, and entertainment. Take a look at Dixie’s sponsorship of the MommyCast; it’s one of the most successful podcasting sponsorships we’ve seen to date. The future will hold many unique and interesting opportunities for the media-buying industry.
HG: Can you list some specific examples of what kind of advertising and sponsorship opportunities exist in podcasting today? Please talk about the specifics of the ad units.
GC: The ad units in podcasting include everything from the standard CPM model for a “spot mention” in the beginning intro or outro (the end of the podcast), all the way to a full-show sponsorship. (See MommyCast.) Podcasting ad networks are doing what is called insertions; these can be audio or video (pre-roll) insertions for content producers that opt in to their programs. The networks will work with the agencies and in some cases attract the advertisers, then plan the actual buy, serve [the ads], deliver the ads, and provide reporting on the back end. From there, the marketer gets its base metrics and can put a variety of measurement elements in place to actually get an idea of the audience engagement as a result of their efforts.
HG: Is there anyone out there (sites, networks, etc.) who has done a good job of packaging podcast media products?
GC: Sure, the leaders in the space today are Kiptronic and Podtrac. They are leading the pack in terms of lining up advertisers with their target audiences in podcasts. They both offer ad insertion technology and some of the most advanced metrics and measurement in the space today.
HG: Are podcasting results being measured and, if so, how?
GC: Sure, there are several key metrics in podcasting. First, there’s your overall audience, download requests per episode, download completes per episode, unique download requests per episode, and unique download completes per episode. We also are looking at consumption metrics, which can be broken out into partial plays and complete plays.
Then there are what we call the engagement metrics, which occur beyond the media consumption. Your RSS subscribers, your Web site/podcast site visits as a percentage of downloads. Any blog, forum, or page activity as a percentage of downloads (that shows the relative appeal of the podcast). Then there are more standard Web metrics, like Web site page views and time spent on the site and the overall impact of your podcast. This includes ad awareness, call-to-action responses, sales, lead generation, referrals, etcetera.
There is also a new industry association that was recently formed, the ADM [Association for Downloadable Media], to help put standards and guidelines in place for measurement in this medium.
HG: What are some of the technologies that are enabling serving and measuring ads in podcasts?
GC: The major players include Kiptronic, Podtrac, and Radiotail. They all dynamically insert ads in a file being downloaded. The targeting is done by aggregating audience data and lining advertisers up with the media that is most in line with their target audience.
HG: What are some other ways of using podcasting to advertise besides buying ad units, such as having properties create and promote podcast advertorials?
GC: There are many ways to use podcasting and new media as a way to advertise and market your business beyond doing the ad buy. The two best examples I can think of off the top of my head are the Financial Aid Podcast, a production of the Student Loan Network. They produce a podcast five days a week, providing insightful information on a variety of topics for students, sort of “money from a student perspective.” The podcast has several calls to actions in it that drive its listeners to various Web properties that are lead-generation sites for student loans, etcetera. This allows them to be able to measure the exact ROI on their new media/podcasting efforts.
The other is Wine Library TV, a production of Wine Library, a 44,000-square foot wine store in New Jersey. Host Gary Vaynerchuk does a video podcast five days a week and tastes a variety of wines, providing listeners with his own completely unbiased and unedited opinion of each wine he tastes. He has an entertaining show with an extremely engaged audience. His podcast is currently getting over 40,000 unique downloads per day. Wine Library does 50 percent of its business online, so you can only imagine what kind of impact Gary’s show is having on the company revenues. Although they don’t measure this down to the dollar, they have tried many promotions and incentives in the show and have had an incredible response.
HG: I know you have a couple of podcasting sites. What are the URLs?
Thanks, Greg. Next time, I’ll talk to some other experts and explore more granular aspects of buying media in the podcast space. If you have a question you’d like to see answered in that column, please send them to me.