Podcasting – Its Beginnings, Significance, and Future Direction For Affiliate Marketing
What is podcasting?
Podcasting is a term coined from the Apple Computer Corporation product, the iPod, which is a portable digital audio device that lets its users store music from their computer to the device so that they can listen to it anywhere, anytime.
However, the term is no longer exclusive to the actual iPod product.
It now can mean any software and device system that allows the user to download audio (usually in MP3 format) and store onto the device for the user’s listening.
What makes this different from radio or other Web-based media is that podcasts allow users total control over when they access and listen to the audio material.
It does so by using the RSS standard or Real Simple Syndication.
The difference between broad and Webcasts lies in how the material is created and distributed over the Internet.
Instead of a centralized source and stream, podcasting is capable of sending the audio content directly to individual iPods and similar devices.
Who does podcasting?
Practically anyone with access to the Internet can podcast.
As much as blogging began in this way, so does podcasting, whose appeal lies in the ease and convenience of creating and transmitting any audio material via the World Wide Web.
Broadcast industry players and radio show syndications are only now riding the bandwagon by formatting their material as podcasts.
But the great thing about this technology is that even non-pros can use podcasting to share their self-produced content in order to voice out their own opinions.
How does podcasting work?
Podcasting is almost an inevitable outcome of the Internet where great ease is given to anyone to publish anything and distribute it anywhere.
Users can connect their audio devices to their computers, access a podcast subscription, and download the feeds from the site.
The audio is accessed by the user from the source and is automatically stored in the device.
Numerous resources on the Internet detail on how to improve podcast quality in terms of sound, equipment, and content.
What makes podcasting so popular, and therefore powerful, is its aural (listening) nature, which many deem superior over text (reading).
Listeners of podcasts are able to learn in conjunction with another activity such as during a commute or exercise.
Why is it important?
A great plus factor for podcasting is in the realm of education. While it cannot totally replace the classroom setup, podcasts can provide teachers yet one more way to connect with students.
As almost all young people live on the Internet and many own portable audio devices, the possibilities of giving them something useful and educational through this means are great.
Where is it headed?
Enthusiasts have yet to find a limit to the uses of podcasting.
This is most seen in the unabated growth of sites that categorize hundreds and thousands of podcasts and make them easily accessible to subscribers.
Even now, podcasting is developing at near breakneck speeds.
Users and subscribers are becoming more discriminating, demanding new features for categorizing and indexing podcasts.
As such, podcast producers are looking for new ways to enhance the simple audio format to deliver experiences that will not only entertain but educate as well.
The breadth and reach of podcasting are only now being realized but its growth is by no means slow.
With more and more rich media finding distribution on the Web, the quality of podcasts relies on how informed people are both in creating and subscribing to content.
The more you know about them, the better position you are to becoming a podcaster not only of popularity but, more importantly, of substance.
Podcasting For Profit
So you now have a podcast.
That’s great, but don’t quit your day job just yet.
Unfortunately, unless you’re Ricky Gervais it might be more than just a little difficult to make money off podcasting.
If you are Ricky Gervais: A.) Can I borrow some money? B.) Can I guest star on the new video podcast?
So why aren’t there more podcast millionaires? Most podcasts don’t have the audience necessary to generate any significant ad revenue.
The other problem being that as podcasting grows, so do the number of shows targeting the same audience.
The larger and more successful podcasts can generate revenue by charging subscription fees for their shows, or even by charging for the back catalogue of shows.
Even amongst the larger corporations, excepting The Wall Street Journal, and Consumer Reports, most haven’t been able to sell enough subscriptions to their web-based content to be anywhere close to profitable.
Apparently just having a recognizable brand isn’t enough to sell subscriptions alone.
The key is finding ways to make podcasts engaging, and effective.
Right now businesses are using podcasting as a marketing tool to attract clients in much the same way that blogs lead to exposure for other businesses.
There is no reason that podcasts can’t generate revenue.
For example, if you host a show on llama herding, it’s possible (although not probable) that 2,000 llama herding enthusiasts might subscribe.
If you have a large niche marketing then advertising might work for you.
Whos to say that if an enterprising podcaster rounded up an audience of 7,000 listeners interested in basket weaving, then why wouldn’t a basket weaving company want to advertise to that audience?
The key is finding a podcast with quality content and advertisers who need to reach that specific audience.
What is needed essentially is a matchmaker of sorts to help the shows and advertisers find one another.
The other problem is getting web users to find and subscribe to podcasts.
While it may seem like just about everyone knows about podcasting the truth is that there is a good majority of people who still haven’t.
In an interview last year Yahoo Chief Products Officer Geoff Ralston pointed this particular problem out.
“The fact is that what we really want to do at Yahoo is to bring podcasting to the mainstream, and for that to happen people have to learn about it.
So we’ve created a site where its really easy to learn about it, and as I said, you’ll be able to find podcasts eventually everywhere on Yahoo.
So as you’re-reading your news, which of course many millions of people do every day week, and month on Yahoo, you will start to be introduced to podcasts and start to be introduced to the podcast experience of the site and that will actually start to bring you into the community of podcasters.
And it is a community!
One of the key aspects of Yahoo Podcasts is that the community is what gives it strength and gives the feeling of the site.
The site also allows people to rate podcasts to create the ability for people to find the podcasts that matter.”
Podcasting is still a new medium and so there’s plenty of room for growth and change.
The real key to making money with podcasting is finding a way to use traditional methods of generating revenue alongside newer methods.
The key in a young industry, like podcasting, is experimenting with different methods, not being afraid to adopt new business models, or even inventing your own.
So Ricky Gervais may have an easier time making money at it, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible for anyone else.
Listen to my podcasts HERE!
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To your continued hard work and success.