Podcasting has come a long way in the past 10 years, from hobbyist activity to mainstream media channel used by 27 million Americans a week. But even as the runaway success of “Serial” has created a water cooler moment, the medium faces a critical crossroads. “It’s an exciting time but it could be fraught with great peril if we don’t think about it in the right way,” warned Edison Research VP of marketing and strategy Tom Webster at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Webster challenged podcasters to rethink what business they’re in. Contending that the barriers between podcasting and online radio have evaporated, Webster made a case for positioning podcasting as simply a way to consume audio on demand. “Think of podcasting as the audio business,” he said.
The axiom that you can’t monetize what you can’t measure rings true for podcasters – measurement is perhaps their greatest challenge. Citing download numbers won’t cut it with advertisers expecting traditional audio metrics and demographics for targeting. Yet podcasts enjoy deep relationships with loyal audiences, Webster said, suggesting those listeners may be willing to share information about themselves as part of a value exchange with publishers.
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