EarthLink Runs Ads on Video Podcasts

In a bid to reach the early adopter crowd, Internet service provider EarthLink is sponsoring Washingtonpost.com’s video podcasts for a month.

The ISP will run :15 video spots ahead of Washingtonpost.com video content. New clips, which consist of features, rather than news, are released several times a week. Viewers initially see a video slide that tells them the Washingtonpost.com video will play after the commercial message. Then the ad plays, followed by the content. People can see the video podcasts either on their Video iPods, or on the Web.

“We’re really doing everything we can do to tell the market that if there’s something new, that makes sense, we want to be the first to do that,” Jeff Burkett, director of sales development at WashingtonPost Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), told ClickZ News. “We have that kind of relationship with the agencies and would like the agency community to view us that way.”

The companies wouldn’t provide details of the financial aspects of the deal, but said it was priced on a flat fee basis. MediaVest negotiated the buy on behalf of EarthLink, but representatives couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

So far, there’s no way to dynamically insert ads into video podcasts, so ads are actually part of the overall video file. Burkett notes this means the ads will still be associated with the video even if someone views the content years from now.

“Until there’s a way [to dynamically insert ads],” he said, “we have to encourage advertisers to have an evergreen message there.”

It’s also technically impossible to measure actual viewership, though publishers can determine how many people downloaded the video file. Washingtonpost.com wouldn’t reveal the size of the audience for its video podcasting service, but it’s presumably quite small. The company says its audio podcasts for Slate and Newsweek together get around 400,000 downloads a month. They were launched in July, while the video feed just launched in October.

Still, Burkett is hopeful pioneering agencies and advertisers will plunge into the new medium.

“I think the cutting edge factor is big,” he said. “People want to be there and play with it now because many believe, myself among them, that this is going to be somewhat mainstream in the near future. The agencies that understand it the best will be poised to lead in this changing media landscape.”

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