Podcast Advertising is Truly Awful

I’m a big fan of Podcasts, listening to perhaps 10 or so a week – mainly when exercising or travelling.

I also think that the future for Podcasting is especially rosy, as they become easier to download, store and consume on the mobile phone. This will make them accessible on a truly mass market basis, as opposed to the niche (OK, quite a big niche) of the specialist MP3 player.

The obvious business model for Podcasting is ad-funded or sponsorship¬†in most cases, though I guess subscription (pay per programme), discretionary donation and¬†Government funded (like the BBC or PBS) all have a role too. But I’d put my money on ad-funded and/or sponsorship being the leading models, going forward.

So surely there’s an opportunity to significantly improve how sponsors’ and advertisers’ messages are communicated?

Take my two favourite Podcasts – and I’ve chosen them as examples because they do such a great job in every other respect – The Jason Calacanis Podcast (still in beta)¬†and G’Day World, which is made by Cameron Reilly.

Both are sponsored by a large domain name retailer and it’s great to see them getting involved and supporting Podcasting at this relatively early stage in the medium’s¬†development. But, frankly, the marketing execution plummets to new depths.

Jason’s method is to digress mid-cast into a mini-lovefest along the lines of “we interrupt this programme to bring you these messages” in a style all too reminiscent of the worst of early radio. Cam inserts a pre-recorded segment before the Podcast begins about how great the sponsor is and how we can take advantage of one of their coupons – incidentally, the same type of coupon available on every other Podcast these people sponsor.

There’s actually nothing wrong with these sorts of messages the first couple of times you hear them. The format works – up to a point. I mean it’s not the most entertaining advertising I’ve ever heard, but it gets the message across clearly and effectively. The trouble is that by the time you’ve heard it two or three times, it’s just plain annoying, quite frankly.

My solution is to just fast-forward, so it’s no big deal – apart from that this means I no longer get exposed to the sponsors’ messages. Which means that the advertising isn’t working any more.

If there’s going to be a long term future for the medium, the challenge is to find a way that’s acceptable to consume advertising and which works on more than a one-off basis. Otherwise, the whole medium is going to struggle.

A few final thoughts:

– Is it just me that finds these ads annoying? Maybe so, in which case I’ll shut up.

РIs the Podcaster self-producing the advertising the right approach, or should marketers look to specialists to provide the solution? Most marketers get specialist radio production houses to produce radio commercials, as an example. This seems to be the approach favoured by the traditional media who are into Podcasting, like CNET.

– It’s a new medium, so should we be looking to reinvent how we use the channel for marketing? What other approach might work better?

Please leave a comment and have your say. My intent here is not to criticize the great work of people like Jason and Cam, but to try to work out a way in which they can deliver the best value to the companies who are supporting their efforts. Then we all win.


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