Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 29, 2008 9:28 PM

Podcasting Is Not Even On Life Support

This post would have been called, Podcasting Is Not Dead, if that had not already been the title of a Blog posting here on September 20th. There was recently news that Podango - some kind of Podcasting related company - might be filing for bankruptcy. Any time something like this happens, the "Podcasting is dead" Blog postings and media attention quickly follows. Here's the newsflash: Podcasting is not dead. Podcasting is not even on life support. Podcasting hasn't even begun to breathe with its own two lungs yet.

There are many companies that looked at Podcasting as a mass media channel. They felt - be it with the audio or video versions of Podcasting - that the opportunity would be in creating either channels or stations where all of this varied and niche content could reside, and once it is aggregated it would be appealing to the media and advertising community. It was not a bad play, but it may simply have been too early to make it work efficiently from an advertising perspective. I don't know anything about Podango, but by the looks of their website, that's what they were banking on.

Podcasting is not a mass media. Podcasting is all about small audiences built around very niche content. The mass media adaptation of their content for the Podcasting channel is already being monetized through their existing advertising deals.

Upon hearing the news about Podango, Chris Brogan had a great Blog posting titled, Podcasting Isn’t Exactly Dead, where one of his more salient points was, "I’ve been trashed a few times by the old guard of podcasting for saying similar things. The thing is, podcasting isn’t exactly dead - it’s different than we all planned." This is where the music industry analogy kicks in. Indie music artists are always pissed off at the major labels for ruining "their thing" with all the bubble gum pop and cookie-cutter bands they sign and market. Sadly, this is the type of music that breaks through and is accepted by the masses. This does not diminish the power, value and creativity of indie artists. This is the same for Podcasting. Just because For Immediate Release - The Hobson and Holtz Report Podcast does not attract the advertising clout of McDonalds does not make it any less valuable to those interested in the best insights you can get on public relations and marketing.

What is the reality of Podcasting?

The reality is that most Podcasts fall into three categories:

1. Independently produced content (like For Immediate Release and the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast).
2. Mass media re-produced content (like CBC's Search Engine or BusinessWeek's Cover Stories).
3. High quality - highly targeted content (like when companies develop Podcasts. See GE On Demand or Whirlpool's The American Family).

None of these should be considered mass media content that would be of immediate value to advertisers who deal mostly in the mainstream TV, Radio, Print and Out-of-home world. That all being said, there is no slow down of sales for iPods and the integration of portable digital media players and the mobile channels (just look at what you can do with an iPhone or BlackBerry Bold) is still very nascent. As excited as people still are about Blogs, there will be (and to a certain degree, there already is) a very similar feeling about grabbing audio and video content in this on-demand and time-shifted fashion.

Are you still excited about Podcasting or are you ready to put one of the nails in the coffin?

Bonus: on Wednesday, December 31st at 12:30 pm EST, Joseph Jaffe will be recording his audio Podcast, Jaffe Juice, live where the debate about Podcasting will continue. Jaffe has reached out to fellow Podcasters Shel Holtz, Neville Hobson, Adam Curry, Cliff Ravenscraft, David Jones, Terry Fallis, John Wall, Christopher S. Penn, Lee Hopkins, and your truly to join him. You can take part too by going here: Jaffe Juice via Talkshoe or you can read more about it here: One more thing before the ball drops: Is Podcasting dead or not?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Adam Singer
    Mitch Joel

    hey mitch - not sure why you even pay this attention. just like the "blogging is dead" posts - its such linkbait/controversy generation that its nonsense. don't worry, smart people don't take that stuff seriously.

    Reply
  • Posted by jon burg
    Mitch Joel

    Podcasting is not dead. Nor is it "the future today". Podcasting is a media distribution platform. Podcasting is utilized by many, but not quite as many as initially expected. The tracking/advertising solutions just aren't quite there yet. But once broader distribution, better syncing and tracking, and more integrated ad solutions (downloadable, unskippable hulu) are in place, this platform will explode. Downloadable, portable media is still in it's infancy. And podcasting is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Reply
  • I pay attention and feel the need to add because I know marketers and media companies are paying attention. My greatest fear would be that they ignore or don't recommend the channel because all of us in the "fishbowl" were too busy eating our own.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bernie Borges
    Mitch Joel

    I've been podcasting well over a year now on web marketing and social media topics. As you point out Mitch independent podcasting is for very niche audiences. I'm of the opinion podcasting has not become mainstream yet. Maybe as more media companies run into the ground they'll seek to reinvent themselves as specialty podcasters. Until premium fee based podcast content becomes more acceptable, we may see the medium flounder for a while. My guess it will be another year or two before we see material growth. In the meantime, it's anything but dead.

    Reply
  • I've been podcasting since 1999 (audio over the internet) and I feel we are still in the beginning stages.

    Yes, the first attempts to monetize podcasting seems to be failing. But, that shouldn't detract from the value and power of the medium.

    Some people believe if you can't make a quick buck, it has no value. These are the same people trying to do mass marketing on Twitter.

    Rosh

    Reply
  • Posted by Paul Baiguerra
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, I think you nailed it with there 'there is no slow down for sales of iPods' - there are still huge numbers of people who have not discovered podcasts, vodcasts, blogs, social media in general. As these devices get into the market and, more importantly, make accessing these media easy then I think we'll see an upswing in consumption coupled with an increase in business involvement.....just look how much you love you iPod!

    Reply
  • Posted by Rob
    Mitch Joel

    It seems to me what's really happening is that mass media & PR are saying "Podcasting, you are dead to me!"

    The reality, I think, breaks down to this:

    - The technology fundamental to podcasting (affordable digital recording capability & RSS feeds, principally) isn't going away;

    - There will always be people who will be interested in getting their voice heard by an audience and podcasting is the affordable way for them to do it;

    - There will always be people who will be interested in listening to content that's aligned with their interests or agenda -- "niches".

    Now, reaching a targeted audience may be a highly desirable thing for an advertiser trying to reach that niche, but it still needs to be cost effective -- with a small audience, they need to be generating very high margins from the limited impressions they get for it to be worth paying for. And that limits what the intermediaries -- mass media & PR -- can make of the arrangement.

    So in the end, podcasting will never be dead, it just won't be a significant part of the mass media & PR foodchain.

    And I suspect for most content producers and their audiences, that will be just fine.

    Reply
  • Posted by Brandon Scott
    Mitch Joel

    I actually just started getting into podcasts and blogs in June of this year (around the time the iPhone came out). Actually, the iPhone is partly the reason why I'm an avid listener of the Six Pixels of Separation podcast. Every morning on my way to work (via BART in San Francisco), I always make sure that my latest subscribed podcasts are loaded onto my iPhone for my attention's delight.

    For my sake, and the thousands (if not more) individuals just starting to get into the podcasting medium, whether its with the iPhone, iTunes, or some other platform, I hope podcasting sticks around. It's a great way to to obtain information that fits the needs and interests of the individual.

    And no, I don't work for Apple.

    Reply
  • Posted by Joseph Jaffe
    Mitch Joel

    Looks like you got some great resonance already...hopefully everyone here will join us on Wednesday and call in to the show

    Reply
  • as one who has been podcasting for a little over three years now, i am as excited about the platform as i was when i first started, perhaps even more so now.

    i was talking with anji bee of the chillcast about this, the idea of some feeling that podcasting is somehow passe. i believe that those in the know may be more gung ho about the video component compared to the audio and may have placed their emphasis and allegiance towards video over audio. when podshow become mevio, that signaled a shift in priority within the podosphere for me. i think ron bloom was quoted as saying that the change marked "the end of the podcasting era." i really hope i was seeing things, because 3-4 years should never be regarded as an "era."

    i am passionate about music and championing lesser-known hip-hop, soul, funk, and electronic artists. therefore, i continue to be very audio-centered. there are few video podcasts i watch, but the ones that have grabbed me keep me engaged.

    be it audio or video, the age of the podcast is still in its infancy. a microwave culture that wants everything now and where everything's yesterday's news faster than you can say "yesterday" no longer treats time as a precious commodity. with the creation of this on-demand content, time is a vastly different concept than before. i look forward to the maturation of all this and to being a part of it as well.

    Reply
  • Posted by Bryan Person
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch:

    I often get a headache from the "[media channel/shiny new object/etc] is dead" meme, but at least in this go-around it's leading to some great discussion.

    My take is that podcasting hasn't quite "taken off" for independent podcasters as some were envisioning it might back in 2005/2006 (remember the "Quit your day job" campaign from Podshow a few years ago?).

    But that's not to say podcasting can't be an effective marketing/media channel for folks like you, Shel/Neville, etc. It complements the other work that you're already doing.

    I'm looking forward to listening in -- and hopefully participating in -- Jaffe's call-in show tomorrow.

    Happy New Year!

    Bryan | @BryanPerson

    Reply
  • Posted by Young Che
    Mitch Joel

    Podcasting takes a little thought and strategic planning if you want to integrate this media into your work. Niches are even more narrow than we could have imagined. Review your goals and recognize that you have to stay in your lane with all of these tools and realize that they are tools to deliver your value.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dave Delaney
    Mitch Joel

    Podcasting is far from dead, it's the name that has often been the problem. I told people about our podcast (Two Boobs and a Baby +) for years before I realized they had know idea what I was on about.

    Have you ever noticed people's eyes glaze over when you say "podcast"? The trick is to call it an Internet Radio Show, or Internet Radio on demand to newbies.

    I should note Mitch that CBC's Search Engine is actually independently produced content now, however it still is a CBC podcast.

    I think more people are podcasting from passion and are beginning to get off the monetization kick, which is refreshing to me. http://urlzen.com/499

    Keep up the great work. Happy New Year.
    Dave

    Reply
  • Posted by DJ Francis
    Mitch Joel

    You know what's funny? I (like most people I know who consume podcasts) much, much prefer the ones in your list of podcast categories.

    It's almost a passion pop gulf as Seth describes it (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2008/05/avoiding-the-pa.html). The slick ones aren't slick enough and that's not what I'm looking for on my ipod while I'm at the gym. But the good podcasts - SPOS, Media Driving, Marketing Over Coffee, FIR, MediaBlather, etc - are ALL in this first indie category.

    Fitting the medium, the message, and the method like this is a sure path to success.

    Reply
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