Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Advertising - On Your iPod, In Podcasts

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article titled "Marketers Aim New Ads at Video iPod Users" (sorry, subscription required to access online). The premise that that the growth in video iPods and the increase in video downloads have changed advertising dynamics. Fans of shows like Lost and Desparate Housewives can download complete shows to their iPods without the ads. Advertisers and agencies hate this, and are looking for ways to insert ads into those videos. While there's nothing game changing in here, as a marketing guy I appreciate that there's an attempt to think about the an iPod oriented video differently.

Let's translate that to a podcast. Some of my favorite podcasts have advertising in them. CNN is sponsored by Verizon, who does a 7 second ad at the end of each podcast. All NPR podcasts are sponsored by Acura, and there's a 3-5 second notice of such up front. Chile's does a 5 second ad after each Onion podcast. The thing I find interesting is that the only difference between these ads and what I hear on the radio is length. Which makes me think that most ad agencies haven't decided that a podcast is a new medium.

Some agencies are trying to think differently. I have spoken with the folks at McCann Erickson a few times about podcasting and they are thinking hard about how to best leverage podcasts, and are willing to think about them as unique from radio.

Of course this begs the question of whether a podcast really is different than a radio program. I'd argue that the very on-demand nature of a podcast makes it different. Which means the listener's expectations are different. Which means the advertising may need to be different.

A podcast provides a golden opporunity for an advertiser to do specific targetting. Seems that the ad should be targetted as well. And I don't just mean the product or service being advertised. I mean the format of the ad as well - what's the tone, voice, message, etc?

It's been proven again and again that people who watch TV using Tivo skip the ads. I would expect nothing less from a podcast listener. But if you can make the ads highly relevant - product/service, tone, voice, message - I am willing to bet there'd be fewer ads skipped.

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