Slate, Lexus Say Hello to Textcasting

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Next week, online news publication Slate will begin offering and promoting textcasts, the latest advertiser-supported application of the iPod device. The publisher will make available a daily transcript of its “Today’s Papers” news aggregation podcast for download and reading on the device. Downloads will be embedded within a 15-minute silent audio file.

Lexus, already a leading advertiser on Slate’s podcasts, is the first to sponsor the experimental new space. The company’s logo will appear where album art is usually shown, and a text ad will be inserted into the articles.

Slate has previously attempted to syndicate its content for text-based mobile devices to little success. When it formatted stories for e-book readers around 2001, the site struggled to stir much enthusiasm from audiences because of the relative scarcity of the technology.

“What’s been missing has been the ubiquity of the device,” Cliff Sloan, publisher of Slate, told the press. “With the iPod there is a ubiquitous device.”

Slate and Lexus are optimistic about the potential for the new format. As soon as people get used to the idea of reading smaller text on their iPod screen and using their scroll wheel as a textual navigator, content should proliferate.

If the “Today’s Papers” textcast proves successful, Slate plans to bring a variety of other site features to the format.

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