Are People Tuning into Podcasting? Exploring the Medium’s Marketing Benefits and Misconceptions


If you’re like the majority of people I’ve pitched about creating a podcast for their business, you’ve responded to this revolutionary marketing medium with a glazed-over expression and the following comments:

-“You have to have an iPod to listen to podcasts, right?”
-“Nobody’s creating any good material in podcasts.”
-“I can’t commit to it because the ROI is too difficult to figure out. You can’t tell who’s downloading for accurate metrics.”

Okay, let’s cut to the chase and get on the same page.

65% of people listen to podcasts on their computers versus an iPod or other MP3 player according to recent research from Knowledge Storm. Podcasts are comprised of MP3 files which can be listened to via computer, MP3 player, or burned to a CD to listen to in your car or CD player.

There is an enormous amount of excellent material produced by NPR, IBM, GE, and myriad other businesses, indies, musicians, and private citizens. The wealth of material is also growing at an enormous rate-pundits suggest that by 2010 there will be anywhere from 20 to 80 million podcasts available online.

In terms of downloading metrics, you have a point–but to a point. Here’s one thing people forget about ratings for TV and radio: they’re based on surveys based on the behavior of the test groups of people being monitored about what they watch/listen to. It’s not like there are microchips embedded in their skulls/digits that record every bit of media they ingest.

For podcasts, metrics are improving to the point where you can tell where someone has downloaded a show, whether they’ve streamed your show (listened to it online versus downloaded), and even some basic demographics. (Age, gender, etc.) But unless you either embed an MP3 file with an encrypted format that allows a user to monitor how much of a podcast you’ve listened to, the only way to tell whether someone has listened to a podcast is to stalk them, plain and simple—which gets expensive.

That said, I’m not here to admonish or instruct you on how to make money on creating a podcast for its own sake. Meaning, I’ll be the first person to tell you you’re not going to make money with a podcast simply by charging people to dowload your show–unless you’re Ricky Gervais, Jon Stewart or perhaps a truly fine Elvis impersonator. There are some well known speakers who do charge a pretty penny for their podcasts (versus giving a live seminar, for instance) but I want to focus here on the corporate marketplace.


  1. I could not agree more with John. The article provides great insite in the burgeoning podcast industry. I particularly agree with the 3 golden principles:

    1) Truthful, or at least valuable
    2) Easy to access whenever/wherever you like
    3) Entertaining.

    We have discovered that, in order for our content to resonate with its viewers, being truthful is even more important than being entertaining, at least when it comes to user retention versus initial user acquisition.

    While our host is a Latin Supermodel (Estelle Reyna)and hence “entertaining” at least to most male viewers, the primary comment people make about our content (from males and females) is about how down-to-earth Estelle appears and how well viewers relate to her because of that. TRUST is what creates loyal user bases, in any industry. The lifetime value of a customer is what really counts and grows the bottom line. There is no value without trust.

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