In two years podcasting has grown from a fringe craze, to the next big thing and is now a household word. Podcasters themselves have grown from hobbyists to professionals with a business side to compliment their creative side. A quick review of the iTunes Music Store’s podcast showcase reveals programming not only from podcasting pioneers like Dawn and Drew or Steve Gillmor but from mainstream sources like television, radio and print news outlets, entertainment companies, movie studios and educational and religious institutions.
While the programming on podcasts has grown from the genre’s early experimental days, so has interest from marketers and advertisers who view this new medium as a new vehicle to reach customers.
For marketers and advertisers, the allure of podcasting is in its ability to reach specific niche audiences. If you want to reach wine enthusiasts, a sponsorship on Winecast or any of several other wine podcasts costs a lot less than an ad in Wine Spectator and is a lot more targeted.
And just as advertisers have begun to show interest in working with podcasters, so have podcasters begun to think of ways they can open their doors and work with advertisers. Podcasting networks have sprung up to support the business side of podcasting. Standards have developed with regards to the way in which advertising and sponsorship can best be integrated into podcast programming so that advertisers and podcasters aren’t reinventing the wheel.
There are many advantages to advertising on podcasts.
While television and radio are still somewhat tied to specific times and locations, podcasting literally exists outside of time and space. People watch TV in their living rooms; they listen to radio in their cars. Podcasts, on the other hand, can go wherever you can take an MP3 player — to the gym, along for a commute, on a walk or to the mall. In that sense, podcasting is a much more intimate medium.
Podcasts are truly multi-channel opportunities. Not only can you get a mention on a podcast itself but there are opportunities on the web site or blog of the podcaster. Sometimes these opportunities are even greater. The publisher and one of the editors of The Mac Observer, for example, host the Mac Geek Gab Podcast. So a sponsorship of the podcast can be tied to an ad on the main web site reaching many more hundreds of thousands of viewers a month.