Podcasting’s First Aggregated Network

Podcasting has its first aggregated network. And it comes complete with the advertising opportunities many interactive marketers have been waiting for.

Created by Australian e-business and marketing strategists Cameron Reilly and Mick Stanic, The Podcast Network, which launched on Valentine’s Day, is both a collection of original podcasts and an ad network comprising third-party podcasts from around the world. Its first offerings include The Gadget Show, The Mobiles Show, and G’Day World, which features information on podcasting and commentary from Down Under.

Though the network is brand-new, it already boasts an impressive audience (by podcasting standards, at least). G’Day World, created last November, attracts 6,000 unique visitors, and the MP3 is downloaded over 15,000 times each month.

Like a traditional ad network, advertising opportunities range from sponsorships to interstitials and advertorials. In Podcast Network’s case, the units are all in audio formats. Marketers will be able to purchase a 5-10 second interstitial that runs during a podcast show or choose a 30-second ad that will air at the beginning and end of a program. Those willing to invest a little more can arrange to be interviewed by a podcaster for an audio advertorial lasting 10-45 minutes.

In addition to audio placements, advertisers can arrange to have their products featured on the individual, blog-type sites associated with podcasts. Rates for both the podcast placements and online ads have yet to be released.

Interactive marketers eager to reach the growing population of consumers dedicated to publishing and listening to podcasts are sure to see huge potential in The Podcast Network. Those simply seeking the most effective way to reach audiences will likely be intrigued as well. For starters, the medium enables marketers to target often-slippery niche markets, both online and off-. Reilly and Stanic say they plan to introduce 15 to 20 different channels within the next six months, including business, technology, and lifestyle.

The network also represents an outlet for reaching international audiences, something many online media buyers struggle with. Already, Reilly and Stanic have signed podcasters from the U.K. and Australia, as well as the U.S. G’Day World currently attracts listeners from 110 different countries. Reilly says programs will be “designed to attract global audiences and advertisers” (those for whom the U.S. is an international destination will be glad to learn 65 percent of G’Day World’s audience is based in the U.S.).

The speed with which podcasting has espoused advertising (you may recall the medium really only launched in August 2004) may be an early indicator of sustainable success. It’s certainly a sign podcasting is poised to make inroads into the mainstream.

Reilly expects “podcast” to become the technology buzzword of 2005, particularly as consumers continue to discover the convenience of listening to audio content via the MP3 format. “We think of it as creating an entertainment network which will legitimize MP3 players as a channel for non-music entertainment and advertising,” he says. “We want to expedite the production, distribution, adoption, and monetization of downloadable audio programming.”

According to Reilly, the network’s focus for the coming year will be to “build a great slate of shows and maximize audiences through a range of marketing and joint-venture activities.” He has not yet actively begun to seek out advertisers.

Podcasters interested in joining the network can expect to split ad profits on an agreed percentage basis and according to a sliding scale. Those with larger audiences and more expertise on their topic stand to generate more income. Although The Podcast Network is offering free content to start, it expects to develop premium (paid) content over time.

Buzzword or not, you can bet when it comes to marrying podcasting and marketing, this is only the beginning.

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