Podcasting: Get Your Message Heard

Podcasting, particularly audio podcasting, is a channel that simply isn’t used enough. In the spirit of full disclosure, I cofounded the business podcasting firm, HearThis.com, in 2005. But even without that obvious bias, I’d argue that podcasting will be a much larger part of marketing in the future than it is now. In my column this week, I’ll talk about why and focus on an innovative new podcasting tool from Personal Life Media that’s perfect for marketing.

Podcasting itself isn’t new: Innovators like IBM, Shell, and Ted use audio podcasts for executive thought leadership programs and similar efforts that make tremendous amounts of internal knowledge within these organizations accessible to interested people outside. Simply put, it helps them build their businesses by connecting thought leaders across organizations.

Audio podcasting is almost uniquely suited to this application. Consider that podcast listeners spend tens of minutes — not tens of seconds — with your message when delivered through an audio podcast. That means you can develop and convey more than a sound bite.

Unlike traditional and online media, audio podcasting is perfect for a multitasking world. You can listen to an audio podcast while driving — something I certainly hope you wouldn’t do with online video even if you could take it with you in the car. And you can take it with you! You can listen to a lifestyle show or professional development seminar while walking on the beach in California, riding a mountain bike outside Scottsdale, or hiking through Central Park. Deeper content, adapted to multitasking, portable in both time and space. Sounds like a winner to me.

You may be thinking, “Great, but is podcasting a medium that I can use, a medium on which I could advertise?” Consider the following, taken from a Podtrac-TNS Advertising Effectiveness Study, completed between 2006 and 2008:

  • Advertisements in podcasts and online shows have a threefold ad effectiveness increase over traditional online video and a sevenfold effectiveness increase over television. Unaided ad awareness across two years of studies was 68 percent, compared to industry benchmarks of 21 percent for streaming video and 10 percent for television.
  • Embedded ad placements are more effective than pre-roll ads across a range of audio and video formats, including varying spot lengths (:10, :15, and :30) and across show formats (produced and host-read).
  • Advertising in podcasts and online shows is effective in moving users from awareness to consideration to purchase. There is a 73 percent average increase in likelihood to use/buy versus a control group.
  • Podcast advertising leads to a more favorable opinion of an advertiser after hearing or seeing an ad. Sixty-nine percent of those podcast listeners surveyed had a more favorable view of the advertisers following ad exposure.

That’s pretty convincing, and that’s why I got really excited when I saw Personal Life Media’s new podcast widget. It allows marketers and publishers to quickly and easily place syndicated podcasts on their blogs and social network pages. In other words, it enables you to embed high-quality subscription-based content on your site. This is content that will keep your audience entertained and coming back, all the while providing an advertising channel with the effectiveness and applicability noted in the Podtrac-TNS study. Using the Personal Life Media podcast widget, anyone who can click a mouse and has five minutes to spare can embed up to five separate podcasts into a skinned, customized player than installs onto a Web site, blog, or favorite social network. It just doesn’t get any easier than that.

So who’s participating? I talked with Al Vitaro, president and CEO of Zen by Design, a furniture maker that specializes in meditative designs. As a furniture maker, the marketing challenge is familiar to anyone who sells or promotes goods or services online: getting potential customers to spend enough time at your site so that they become actual customers. Zen by Design teamed up with Personal Life Media and sponsored audio podcasts — distributed in part via the new podcast widget — that are brand-aligned with Zen by Design and its products.

Vitaro put it this way: “Because our markets are very specific, we were delighted to find that our clientele resonates with many of the broadcasts that Personal Life Media offers. It is always beneficial to educate your customer base. We never favored the idea of posting cumbersome articles on our Web site. Personal Life Media has done an amazing job of packaging this information into a format that is very appealing.”

Even more to the point of brand-building, on the social Web brand alignment is expanded to include the holistic brand experience. Podcasting — because it conveys a sense of respect for your customers by directly ceding control over when, where, and how they choose to listen to your message — is naturally aligned with attitudes and values of Zen by Design and the furniture it makes.

“We chose this form of marketing because it sends a progressive message to our customers,” said Vitaro. “Perhaps it gives our viewers something they haven’t seen before on a Web site or at the very least, subtly communicates to our customers that we greatly appreciate the time they are spending with us.” On the social Web, that is the kind of genuinely respectful marketing that gets talked about and shared with others.

If you haven’t looked at podcasting as a component of your marketing program, you ought to. It’s an effective channel, and one that’s incredibly easy to use. It’s also still new enough that you’ll get the credit for stepping out to try something. Check out Personal Life Media’s new widgets, spend a few minutes with Zen by Design. You’ll be glad you did.

Join us for ClickZ Presents: Online Marketing Summit, September 25 at the Sheraton San Diego.

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