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Podcasts as a Marketing Tool

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What is a Podcast?

A podcast is defined as a media file that is distributed over the internet through making it available as a download or via syndication feeds, for playback on personal computers and portable media players. Websites often allowing direct streaming of their content, but a podcast is different from this in that it’s possible to download and store it for future reference.

One good way to think of a podcast is as an on-demand radio show.

How Mainstream are Podcasts?

Podcasts and podcasting are terms that are now in the general public’s conscience but listening to podcasts is yet to take off in a way that was predicted. In the US research shows that 12% of internet users now download podcasts, comprised of 15% of online men and 8% of online women.

However, only 1% of US internet users download a podcast each day, illustrating that podcasts are yet to be widely listened to. A lack of good content has been blamed for these low figures and this view is supported by the fact that Radio 1’s daily podcast is downloaded around half a million times every month, suggesting that podcasting can be a valuable marketing channel if good content is produced.

Benefits of Podcasting

Developing and distributing a podcast of your own is beneficial to your business in up to four different ways.

It helps to boost PR activities through placing yourself in a position of authority. People start to see you as being the expert in the field and, as a result, whenever journalists are looking for a comment about a particular story they are far more likely to approach you.

All those ‘experts’ interviewed on the radio have got there either through a PR agency or through being seen as the experts in their field. Developing an interesting and insightful podcast is one giant step towards becoming one of the experts in your field.

Podcasts are excellent tools at increasing customer loyalty. Through providing useful information and allowing more of a ‘brand experience’ customers see the company as being more reputable and helpful. Consequently customer loyalty tends to rise.

There are some companies who develop podcasts with the main aim of being an effective sales channel. This can work but it’s important not to be too blatant about it. The last thing people want to do is download a company promotional audio clip.

If your podcast becomes especially popular you can sell advertising and sponsorship, and in some cases companies even charge people to be able to download their podcast. However, the sponsorship and charging route can only be explored once your podcast becomes very popular and should not be the primary focus of developing one.

Advertising on Podcasts – Podvertising

You don’t have to develop a podcast of your own to be able to use them as a marketing tool. The area of advertising on podcasts, termed podvertising, is growing rapidly as podcast developers look to develop additional revenue streams and monetarise their listeners.

Traditional broadcasting is characterised by “pushing” their programmes to viewers, whereas podcasting is a “pull” technology, where users choose what they want to listen to at a time that suits them. This is appealing to advertisers as listeners are voluntarily interacting with the technology, thereby making them more receptive to relevant advertisements.

In podcasts audio ads tend to last in the region of 10-20 seconds, and certainly no longer than 30 seconds. They are inserted at the beginning of a podcast, in the middle, or at the end. The actual podcast ad can be developed by yourself or by a podcast advertising company.

With advertising on podcasts such a new advertising medium there are opportunities to achieve widespread exposure at low cost. However, if your product is aimed at people over the age of 40 it’s probably best avoiding this form of advertising – most podcast users are in the age range 25-35.

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