Missing The Point of PodcastingMar 25th, 2009 | By Elisabeth Lewin | Category: Commentary, Podcasting
Media Post’s Search Insider blog had an interesting piece yesterday about “lost buzzwords” of the search marketing industry. Columnist Steve Baldwin, attending the Search Engine Strategies NY conference, was looking back at conference agendas from years past, sifting through the hot topics to see whether any of the issues were of any consequence today.
It’s an interesting list (you should check it out), but on one particular topic (that is close to my heart), Baldwin totally doesn’t get it:
“6. Podcast optimization. Podcasting — what a grand idea! All it takes is a cheap microphone and you’ll be on your way to becoming the next Rush. Only problem is, Rush has millions of listeners, whereas most podcasters have about seven. The sequential nature of podcasting is just about the least efficient way to deliver information online, and maybe that’s why nobody seems to mind that SES no longer pays attention to it.”
“The sequential nature of podcasting is just about the least efficient way to deliver information online” Huh — !? Podcasting can be sequential and episodic, but it doesn’t have to be. Defining podcasts simply in those terms is a narrow description that misses the point, the flexibility, and the beauty of the podcast medium.
Baldwin overlooks the multitude of ways in which (even sequential) podcasts are beneficial, not just to their viewers and listeners, but to the individuals and companies (and search-engine strategists) who create and promote them:
Podcasts can be sequential. For some finite sets of information, like audiobooks, or how-to projects, sequential podcasts are the most effective delivery method. If chapters were out of sequence, they’d make no sense. If a project’s instructions were out of order, they’d be useless. Duh. When the series is done, you have a neat, complete bundle of podcasts for future reference (or entertainment).
Podcasts can be timely. News, stocks, weather, community calendars are all types of information that can change quickly. When a listener/viewer subscribes to the podcast via its RSS feed, the most up to date version is downloaded. The winner of today’s NCAA basketball game, or forecasts of the coming winter storm, can be accessed at the user’s convenience. The sequence of the podcasts doesn’t matter in these instances – only the most recent update does.
Podcasts can be evergreen. The other side of the podcast content coin is for the sort of information that is less ephemeral than news or weather. Many, if not most, podcasts are evergreen content, that is, stuff that would be as useful or entertaining five years from now as it is today. The value of a podcast series increases as time goes on, and the back catalogue of older shows grows.
A podcast doesn’t need millions of listeners to be effective. Yes, of course, Rush has millions of listeners. But they’re a motley bunch of listeners with backgrounds, needs, and interests as diverse as listeners to conservative talk radio can be. Savvy advertisers and marketers see the value of promoting their brand to the smaller, but highly targeted specific podcast audience.
Edison Media Research’s 2008 “The Podcast Consumer, Revealed” study, found that “podcast consumers are more likely to have attained at least a college degree…. and are extremely attractive advertising targets, though difficult to reach via traditional interruption models,” and are also more likely to live in households earning in excess of $75,000 per year.
Wouldn’t you want your company’s search engine strategy to include content that attracts those kinds of consumers?