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Podcasting - Is Anybody Out There? Can You Hear Me?

Posted on 2.16.2007
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Business Week published an article on Feb. 14 titled "The Next Big Ad Medium: Podcasts." In it, they cite an eMarketer projection that advertisers will spend more than $400 million on podcasting by 2011, up from $80 million last year. I'm not sure where these figures come from - it's surprising, as podcasting has experienced such slow adoption and an audience growing at a snail's pace, compared to other online mediums. So what's driving this ambitious prediction? Why, Google of course.

It's anticipated that Google will soon begin integrating AdWords into podcasts and is expected to be able to insert audio ads within the next "few years" - presumably before 2011. Google is looking to finally take advantage of their acquisition of dMarc, the radio advertising company. That purchase has yet to result in anything but the departure of the founders of dMarc, apparently because of disagreements over sales tactics and poor revenue results.

Interestingly enough, Business Week published an article in December 2006 titled, "What Podcasting Revolution?" that cites a study by Pew Internet & American Life Project stating that just 1% of Internet users reported downloading podcasts regularly. That doesn't seem to jive with the $400 million eMarketer prediction. What else is missing? Out of that 1% downloading, how many of those podcasts are actually being heard? Surely, many podcasts are being downloaded and sit inside those MP3 players and iPods and never get played.

In essence, Business Week can't make up their minds and I'm not sure anyone else can either. All of these projections are just that - guesses. But, wherever Google is advertisers will follow, right? Possibly, but Google isn't the only game in town. Podtrac just announced a service where advertisers can research podcast audience demographic information - attempting to connect advertisers with a targeted audience and drive up interest in podcasting altogether.

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