The Podvertising Push: Eyeing the Prospects for this Fresh Interactive Strategy

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The free ride we call podcasting can’t last forever. There will always be ad-free podcasts out there, but eventually podcasts supported by advertising will become the norm. It only stands to reason that the only way a podcaster can create the best show possible is to be devoted to it full-time. And the only way a podcaster can be devoted to a podcast full-time is if it makes money.

Even the elite iTunes top 10 are starting to make the move to advertising in order to cover the cost of hosting, bandwidth, and the sheer amount of time it takes to produce a top 10 show. Leo Laporte, producer and host of one of the most popular tech podcasts, This Week in Tech, is turning to podcast advertising company Podtrac to help support his show. There are a handful of podcast advertising services out there aiming to capitalize on the inevitable emergence of a large audio-video podcast advertising industry. And while they all do things a little bit differently, they all seem to be following the same general trend towards giving flexibility and control both to individual podcasters and advertisers.

Unlike radio and other over-the-air broadcast mechanisms, podcasting has no physical frequency-based limit on the number of programs that can be received in a given geographical area. That means the number of podcasts that can be produced and distributed in the world at any one time is effectively limitless. Because there are so many shows out there at once, podcasters have to focus on a narrow audience in order to make themselves heard over the great din.

*chart taken from Bridge Ratings February 2006 report on podcast use (click on thumbnail for larger image)

To get to know a show’s audience, podcast advertising company Podtrac gives podcasters free web surveys so they can measure their audiences and determine exactly what type of people are listening to (or watching) their show. “A podcaster registers with Podtrac. They get a unique URL which they post on their website, and then announce the survey in their audio or video podcast and then ask their listeners or viewers to go to their web site and fill out the survey,” says Podtrac CEO Mark McCrery.

Like Podtrac, other podcast advertising companies like Kiptronic and Fruitcast have a platform-independent way to insert ads into podcast files automatically and track the number of downloads and subscriptions to a particular show. The aim of all of them appears to be to make advertising for podcasters as simple as Google AdSense ads are for small web publishers.

Kiptronic and Fruitcast’s automated approach allows podcast ads to be inserted into a show at the time they are downloaded. Kiptronic’s method even allows advertisers to target ads by date& time, and location. That not only lets people downloading a show in Chicago to hear ads pertaining to Chicago, and lets advertisers run date-sensitive campaigns, but it gives advertisers the ability to change their ads on-the-fly.

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