Syndicate Wed. Afternoon: Building a Business Case for Podcasting
Podcasting: "Makes sense. Do we do it now or in 6 months?"
Schwartzman's opening remarks are on his blog.
This panel did a great job covering how clued-in big media companies can integrate podcasting (and blogs) into their mix.
Mike Ellcessor from WNYC covered how his station saw podcasting as a response to the increasing fragmentation of radio. They initially viewed as podcasting as an experiment. They had a number of programs that they thought might reach beyond the usual geographic WNYC audience; in particular, On the Media, nationally syndicated by NPR, is produced by WNYC. They also podcast segments from some of their daily talk shows. Primary goal was to increase their 1:1 relationships with their audience, which makes sense for viewer-supported television :-)
Jeff Burkett manages the online properties for the Washington Post, Newsweek and Slate. His group builds online vehicles that must meet the needs of both the edit and advertising sides of the business, so figuring out how to do advertising within the podcast was one of the objectives. He commented that he is in the mass media (versus long tail) so a different set of economics applies.
[Comment: In fact, all three of the panelists here are mass media. They have both different resources and requirements than an entrepreneur or hobbyist considering a podcast as a revenue or brand opportunity or just something fun to do.]
Back to the panel. Burkett says that they just appended traditional radio and tv spots to the pod- and vid- casts, a solution that he hopes to replace with something more tailored to the new media as time goes on.
Heather Green from BusinessWeek,one of the co-authors of the well-known May 05 BW cover story on blogging, then talked about her involvement with blogs and podcasting. Since she is on the editorial side of the book, her perspective was slightly different from the previous two speakers. . The economics, at least vis her own podcast, aren't her main interest [Comment: although it might be the publisher's :-) ] For her, podcasting is an experiment; "you have to try it." She considers podcasting a disruptive technology that changes the landscape whether or not it has a business model.
Schwartzman asked the panelists how they built the business case for podcasting.
Ellcessor said they knew there was interest outside the NY area for their radio programming. Podcasting was cheap and easy for them. They also kept it in an experimental context, which let it succeed without high expectations.
Burkett related much the same thing -- podcasting was considered an experiment.
Green didn't have to build a business case. She talked about how she viewed the three publishing vehicles she has available for her content: her blog, her podcast and the print publication. She mostly uses the blog for random stuff that doesn't fit into the print story and to report on interesting "meet and greets" that don't fit into any current projects. On the podcast, she interviews interesting people, including past interview subjects. One dilemma: how much does she hold back for a story, how much does she put out there.
The entire panel talked a bit about the valuation of podcast advertising. Prevalent models, CPM and sponsorship. Green said she thought podcasts will be sold as part of a package of multiple media. This makes sense to me. She also commented that very few people are going to make any money at podcasting. My opinion: I think it will depend on how you define "make money." If we define it as purely ad-supported, she's probably right. If we look at podcasting as part of a larger package (or brand), I think it can substantially contribute to revenue. Just hard to measure.
Questions from the audience.
Sam Whitmore asked if they knew what percentage of audience listened on an iPod or MP3 player versus a computer? No one did, but there was a lively exchange about the value of knowing how the audience is listening. The iPod listener is potentially more valuable than the multi-tasking PC listener.
Someone asked WNYC, how do they prevent podcasting from damaging their fundraising efforts. The answer was pretty much, we can't completely, but we went into it with our eyes wide-open, and try to live by the creed, "first do no harm."
What's the ideal length? No answer to this one, not even from these experts. The WNYC podcasts are created from radio inventory; On the Media is its normal 59 minutes and the talk show segments range from 20-40 minutes.
For Burkett (WaPost) it depends on what the podcast is about. For example, he hates that Onion Radio News is only 30 seconds, feels it should be 5 minutes.
What instincts do you have about the listener, common traits? Mike: time pressed; Jeff: agreed time pressed, therefore harder to reach on radio and TV; Heather: classic early adopter, highly educated, high income/net worth, more women than we thought.
Finally, can the little podcaster compete with mainstream media? Panel thinks yes. Mike: talent will prevail, as long as you master the basics, offer a certain level of sound quality. Jeff: it is all about people and their passions.
The last question was an off-topic question for Heather Green related to a recent article "Is it 1998 again?"
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