The Problem With Mashable’s PodcastersJan 11th, 2008 | By James Lewin | Category: Corporate Podcasts, Making Money with Podcasts
Hopkins acknowledges that “people do indeed love to download podcasts, and that it is a sharply growing medium.” But Hopkins goes on to argue that the problem with podcasting isn’t getting people to download them, it’s getting advertisers to advertise on them.
He discusses his personal trial and tribulations trying to monetize his podcast, and his inability to find a sponsor for his idea for a new Mashable podcast.
His bottom line is that he thinks it’s just too hard for podcasters to get advertisers:
The problem that we cannot make reliable money from monetizing these downloads is the issue that keeps cropping up and preventing the rest of the world from taking it seriously.
Podcasters Need To Take Responsibility For Making Their Podcasts Marketable
We understand Hopkins’ frustration with trying to line up sponsors for his podcast concept. There are a lot of podcasters that have the same frustrations.
But Hopkins appears to be making a lot of the same mistakes that keep other podcasters from making money.
Let’s take a look at what Hopkins is doing wrong, and what he could be doing to make a successful Mashable podcast.
First of all, he’s got a sense of entitlement – he thinks that advertisers should be interested in his podcast idea.
There are hundreds of thousands of podcasts now, most of which are complete unknowns to potential advertisers.
Why should an advertiser be interested in Hopkins’ podcast?
He’s got to demonstrate why.
He’s also disregarding how the publishing world works. He’s got some ideas for a podcast and he’s trying to find someone that would want to advertise on it. That’s not the way publishing usually works in the real world.
Most periodical publications, whether they are print, audio or television, are essentially ad delivery mechanisms. Because of this, big media publishers don’t start by coming up with ideas for new magazines, radio or television shows – they start by identifying attractive groups of advertisers that need a way to connect with audiences.
In other words, they:
- Find groups of advertisers with money to spend;
- Find out who would want the advertiser’s products;
- Produce content that meets the interests of the people that need the advertisers’ products; and then
- Sell ads.
If Hopkins thinks about the Mashable podcast as a publication that has to meet the needs of advertisers, he’ll have a lot better luck finding them.
Hopkins is trying to sell vaporware.
Hopkins has a more fundamental problem, though. He’s trying to sell vaporware.
- His Mashable podcast is a concept – it doesn’t have a track record or an audience.
- Hopkins himself doesn’t really have a track record – his previous podcast struggled and then podfaded.
- Mashable isn’t committed to the podcast. Hopkins notes that his boss at Mashable isn’t interested in the podcast unless Hopkins can line up advertisers from the start.
If Hopkins can’t get his boss to commit to the podcast, why would advertisers want to commit?
He hasn’t answered advertisers’ questions.
While Mashable’s got a captive audience and a great reputation, potential advertisers don’t know what a Mashable podcast would be.
Would it be a dry podcast that talked about social networking news, like their stories on Yahoo’s Real Estate Portal and GMail adding a group mailing list function? Would it be something that looked at fluff news, like sexy pictures of Megan Fox? Or would it be something else entirely?
Who knows? Certainly not potential advertisers.
Hopkins has to answer these questions and the other reasonable questions that any smart advertiser is going to ask, because it’s their job to not flush their ad money down the drain.
What Mashable Can Do To Sell Their Podcast
The ultimate problem that Hopkins faces is one that a lot of podcasters face; if they want to be professional podcasters, they’ve got to start podcasting like pros.
Here’s how Hopkins should approach his problem:
- Figure out who’s got ad dollars to spend. What are the companies that want to connect with social network users? What are they trying to sell? For the sake of argument, lets say that there are some well-funded startups that want to pimp their latest widgets for social networking sites.
- Figure out who the advertisers want to connect with. Let’s say that the widget advertisers want to connect with new users at Facebook.
- Create great content that targets the right audience for your advertisers. If your advertisers want to connect with Facebook users, create the must-listen-to podcast for getting the most out of Facebook.
- Establish a track record. Make a great show. Document that you have an audience. Show that you’re not going to fade out. Demonstrate that you’re committed to the podcast. Give advertisers a reason to give you a try.
- Show potential advertisers that you’ve got what they need. Sell them on your show. And then follow up to them with metrics that demonstrate that they were right to give you a try. Show advertisers that they were right to give you a try.
There’s no reason why Mashable can’t have a great podcast that’s profitable.
But if they want to do this, they need to stop complaining about advertisers and, instead, start meeting advertisers’ needs.