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The perks of podcast advertising

The perks of podcast advertising Susan Bratton

Whether you want to listen to "This American Life" while you commute, "Oprah" and EckertTolle while you walk your pup or watch something outrageously silly from Comedy Central while you wait for an appointment, you are like the one in five Americans who now tote media with them, on-demand.

Imagine if a slew of new billboards suddenly appeared overnight right where your customers went most often and you could be the first to have your ads on them? Imagine if a hot new TV network launched and you got the first ad in the commercial bank on the most popular new show?

That's your opportunity in podcasting. Consumers love their downloaded content. They actively choose it.

There are smart brand marketers already buying up the best "real estate" in this new channel. I asked four diverse organizations -- AccuQuote, Dreamspan, Go Daddy and the U.S. Navy -- about their motivation to invest in the downloadable media space. What do marketing pioneers Sean Cheyney, Michael Kehoe, Gary Kamen and Dan Rioux have to say about their campaigns? Their responses give you a glimpse at industry trends, the advertiser mindset and what they expect to see from their investment.

The Association for Downloadable Media is also responding to some of the requests made by Cheyney, Kehoe, Kamen and Rioux with its newly announced Advertising Unit Standards and Audience Measurement Guidelines. Check the site to see the first wave of industry recommendations supported by the ADM Ad Council, a leading group of digital media strategists working hand-in-hand to ensure the usability of the guidelines in the media buying industry.

What kind of campaigns have you run or are you running in the downloadable media space?

Cheyney, AccuQuote: We're running two podcast campaigns, one with Personal Life Media and one with Podshow.

Kehoe, Dreamspan: Sponsored commercials and advertorials mixed with affiliate links and banner ads with Personal Life Media.

Kamen, Go Daddy: Go Daddy sponsors hundreds of shows in the podcasting space using a variety of ads to reach different audiences.

Rioux, U.S. Navy: As part of a broader distributed content strategy, we are using audio (and some video) podcasts for Navy Recruiting.
Why did you choose podcasts/vidcasts as a part of your media mix? What special attributes does this media have that other media don't deliver as well?

Dreamspan: Podcasts give you the freedom to reach a more targeted audience with fewer restrictions on content.

Go Daddy: Many podcasters share a unique relationship with their audience based on mutual respect. Podcasters are respected for being the authority in their field and, in turn, they are trusted by their audience to recommend relevant, quality products. Go Daddy has been successful in this space not only because our products are useful to podcasters, but also because their audiences find them just as useful. Additionally, Go Daddy is not afraid to let podcasters run with our advertising copy and put their own touch on it. Some companies find discomfort in giving away that much control.

U.S. Navy: The Navy's 18- to 24-year-old target is used to listening to audio content when and where they want to. The specific media consumption habits of this iPod generation lead us to augment Network Radio buy impressions with those from sponsored content in the podcast world. In contrast to broadcast network audiences, podcasts are helping the Navy grab hold of the "long tail" with very discreet audiences of a million monthly users down to some with just a few thousand users. Some of the best prospects for the Navy Reserve are active duty sailors stationed around the world. We can reach them through podcasts where national network radio cannot.

AccuQuote: As an avid podcast listener, I've been amazed by the level of engagement that podcasters have with their audience. It's a very personal interaction that occurs when you're bringing a show host into your iPod for listening in the car, travel, exercising, etc. In addition, I know that I've personally taken the recommendations of show hosts about several products and services, regardless of whether the promotion is because of paid sponsorship. As an advertiser, this level of trust and audience support of an advertiser is what I'm looking for.

Author notes: Susan Bratton is the co-founder and CEO of Personal Life Media, Inc. and vice chairman of the Association for Downloadable Media.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your portable media campaigns?

Go Daddy: We have a number of elements that we monitor. I can tell you we are very happy with the results we see. We are doing more podcasting advertising, not less.

U.S. Navy: Our podcast download buys have been Nielsen-guaranteed.

AccuQuote: We're using traditional DR methodology to track, including the use of unique toll-free numbers and unique tracking URLs. These are then measured using Omniture, our phone stats and back-end OLAP data. In addition, we're trying to isolate lift in our web traffic from people directly typing in our URL.

Dreamspan: Online sales driven from unique codes mentioned from individual shows.

Is there something you'd like to do with this medium that you haven't been able to do? What are the gating factors, and what is your recommendation for fixing those issues?

U.S. Navy: Some publishers, like Podrunner, have assisted ad-content integration by taking our existing Navy radio commercials and adding compatible audio as an enhancement for listeners. I hope we can do more of that in the future. It's like a mini mash-up. Believe it or not, there have been a few publishers that have refused to accept Navy ads, which was surprising to me.

AccuQuote: This is a learning process for us right now. As time progresses, we'd like to create a deeper level of engagement with the audience of each show. We're looking at the shows and their audience as partners, as opposed to viewing this strictly as an advertising campaign.

Dreamspan: I would really like to have the brand name and/or logo show up on the iPod-facing/computer screen while consumers download and listen to the show. A visual aspect would be great for retaining information.

Go Daddy: Something that many advertisers and podcasters alike are struggling with is an accurate measurement tool to know the exact reach of each episode. Some companies like Podtrac and RawVoice have made great progress in this area by providing rich analytical tools, while many video-sharing websites are still lacking. Much like tracking unique visitors has become the gold standard of online advertising, new media producers should also develop a standard unit of measurement.

What do you see the future of advertising being like in podcasting/vidcasting in portable content?

AccuQuote: I see a higher level of engagement between audience, show host and advertisers to the point where advertising is simply viewed as content.

Dreamspan: I see it growing as more people become familiar with new age technology. The great thing about podcasting is the limited commercials.

Go Daddy: As more people continue to consume this type of media, the space will grow, encouraging others to launch shows of even greater variety, reaching previously underserved audiences. More advertisers will recognize this space and begin shifting advertising dollars to new media opportunities in order to reach a more targeted population segment. Continued advancements in analytics will further add to this shift. Being a pioneer in podcast advertising, we have already seen a number of advancements in the past few years, and it's safe to say we will continue to see more.

U.S. Navy: I'd like to let our target's media habits lead us. That said, as new technology facilitates the public's ability to download faster and store more content, I look for the appetite for free, ad-sponsored content to grow and grow.

If you are intrigued about how you might play in this space, you can now scale your campaign across multiple podcasting networks and independent podcasts that support the ADM ad standards. The best way to find great content is to go to iTunes, click on podcasts and do keyword searches to see what shows might have a passionate audience that would love your brand story. You'll be amazed at the breadth and depth of this new content channel and the wide-open opportunity you'll have as an early advertiser.

Susan is the co-founder and CEO of Personal Life Media, Inc. Personal Life Media (personallifemedia.com) is the first podcast and blog advertising network for advertisers to reach the “cultural creatives” market segment. She is also the Vice...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Bill Burke

2008, April 16

At Adondo, we believe podcasting offers tremendous potential.Our Phone Portals give users access to their favoriteaudio podcasts from any mobile phone, over the voicechannel so no Internet access is ever necessary.Several major media outlets now use our Phone Portals as one of their podcasting channels, and their respective Phone Portals give them extremely detailed usage tracking. We are now offering new dynamic Click-Throughadvertising, which will allow listeners to connect directlyto sponsors in their geographic area, from "inside" thepodcast which we see as a terrific way to expand thetremendous podcast advertising potential.The Teamhttp://www.PhonePortals.com

Commenter: Jim Leach

2008, April 16

Excellent article! My 2c is that downloadable media is going to become an excellent campaign medium with real ROI...but it's in its infancy. We've delivered a podcast series as free content in our B2B markets and have had tens of thousands of downloads. We're not sure yet whether those downloads are buyers or bots.Our next challenge is figuring out what downloaded media our buyers are choosing. It looks like the sources are a lot more distibuted than traditional media.Last point, my anecdotal research says that most people are watching podcasts on their PCs...which begs the question if it's really a podcast!