Podcasts have received a lot of media hype since their inception but they haven’t quite lived up to their expectations as compared to blogs. According to figures from CNET, a new blog is born 2 times in a second.
It thus seems that the podcast as a medium is failing – but is it the death of the podcast? – Not necessarily. That is primarily because podcasting, the term is derived by amalgamating the ipod and broadcasting. So as the possibilities of the pod increase, so do the possibilities of podcasting. The pod now allows you to view presentations, view video, and combine all that with audio – so effectively pod casting too has to now go beyond the audio paradigm.
And its not just the ipod – even other mP3 players like Samsung’s, YP – 10 or the Sansas by San Disk (USA’s no. 2) play video beautifully – and at a better price than the ipod. So the penetration of the ‘pod’ also is likely to be on the rise.
For India – the problem of podcasting lies with the fact that they are distributed over the Internet, which has only 40 million users who access it at least once a month. There is additionally the added time cost of transferring podcasts to the ‘pod’. I think the future of podcasting will lie with mobile phones in India atleast because the phone is converging with the ‘pod’ and will eventually become a pod that also does voice. Distribution of podcasts then becomes easier.
Here are a few ways that marketers can leverage podcasts:
Like any marketing exercise, podcasts to must be customized for relevant customer categories. Once a marketer knows his customers well he can choose from an array of podcast choices:
Original, Brand-extending Content. Here companies can create content that relates directly to the brand. This could include jingles, songs, content that is the corporate blog in audio, maybe even videos of corporate films and ads. As of now videos may seem like the best option but the brand must remember that with video, the file becomes heavier and the downloading time is higher. So only loyalists would actually spend time downloading such content at least in India where downloading video is an investment in terms of time. The key to remember with brand extending content is that it is about conversations with the brand and has not much to do with the products or services that the company provides.
Rehashed Broadcast Content: This may include broadcast content such as presentations, ads etc given in the audio form – this kind of an exercise would generally enable a user to take the brand with him wherever he goes. Again this will probably work for the brands, which have extreme loyalists eg. Apple or Reliance in India.
Information and Guidance with respect to usage of Products: This is basically a service manual in the audio or audio cum video and audio cum simple presentation format. This gives better use options to the consumer plus its content that’s more accessible on the go. Again it’s about going that one step ahead for the comfort and convenience of the consumer.
Content on subjects related to the brand: This could be intellectual or infotainment content related to the brand. Eg. Car brands can produce content related to the technical details, the future of cars etc. Media companies can revolve around the workings of media, the relevance of media etc. This really does value add to the brand and affect the entire category – for the brand what it does is that it embeds the brand within a particular category which is really beneficial for the brand.
Internal Communications: A brand is as much about the ‘outside’ as it is about the ‘inside’. So podcasts can really strengthen emplyee training, employee orinentation for brands etc.
Sponsoring Podcasts from other Sources: If your company does not create podcasts of its own, it can sponsor relevant podcasts and leverage its brand value. Eg. Raymond can sponsor podcasts with short ads where the topic is men’s grooming and personality, or close up can sponsor podcasts where the topic relates to confidence. Basically anything that leverages the key raison d’ etre for a brand.
For podcasting to take off in India, one needs to keep in mind the:
a) Accessibility of the distribution platform – like I said, mobile seems to be the best way to go!
b) Language – podcasts will have to go into regional languages along with Hindi and English. The advantage is that even though people cannot read they can definitely hear and understand and it’s a great way to engage audiences. Looking at a macro perspective, podcasts can also be great educating tools. For this to be realized though, the ‘pod’ would have to become more cost effective. It is estimated that Apple pockets a cool $100 for every $199 ipod sold – that’s a lot of money. One has to then look at distributing such a product for mass benefit from a different perspective.
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