Monday, December 12, 2005

A Podcaster Taxonomy

OK, I'm a product marketing guy. My job is to define products and drive marketing. In order to do that I have to have things like a target audience, maybe a user or customer taxonomy. These are kinds of tools of the trade. Not glamorous or sexy, but at some point necessary for the job.

I've been working on a taxonomy for podcasters. At some level I don't like categorizing podcasters because the space is moving too fast and I don't know anyone who really likes to be labled. But again, it's a necessary thing for the job so I'm doing it. I'm the first to admit that the taxonomy isn't perfect - in some ways it's too broad, in others it forces a categorization that some may find uncomfortable. We'll consider it work in progress. Here goes...

Using broad strokes I'm thinking of the universe of podcasters as having 3 groups:

1. Major Media, which is the group of major media companies who are doing podcasts. Guys like CNN, NPR, ESPN, etc. These are guys who have multiple other media types under their umbrella and use podcasts as a way to extend their reach. My back of the envelope math says that this group comprises about 25% of all podcasts, and accounts for maybe 1/3 of all downloads.

2. Grass Roots Professionals, who I count as being individuals or small media companies who use podcast as their primary, or only, media property. What this group has in common is a professional quality and a regular schedule, making them closer to major media than not. I don't think you can categorize them into any single genre as they span technology to comedy, social commentary to general interest entertainment. My estimate is that this group makes up 65% of total podcasts, and accounts for close to 2/3 of downloads.

3. Individual Hobbyists, who are exactly what the name implies. Hobbyists are the long tail - folks who have something to say and are going to use a podcast to say it. They don't get into podcasting to build a brand or anything like that, though sometimes that happens. They don't always put out high quality, and they don't really have a regular schedule. It's a fast growing segment, though right now it only makes up somewhere around 10% of the podcasts out there.

So by now you're asking what any of this has to do with anything. We build cool software to help people get podcasts directly to their cell phones, as you know. To build a successful company we need to focus. We have to know what, really who, to focus on. That's why I spent time with some of the smart guys I work with developing a taxonomy.

And it'd be great to hear what you think about this. It's work in progress, and definitely needs some vetting.

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