Monday, July 18, 2005

Scanning the Horizon: Podcasting

As you’re steering the ship of your business out on the ecommerce ocean, it pays to pull out a pair of binoculars and scan the horizon. What will you see there? You might see some storm clouds beginning to form, or some waves starting to pitch. You might see an island or a port of opportunity.

Sometimes, you’ll see things that, at first glance, might not seem to bear much impact on you or your web business. What should you do about those things? Should you ignore them? If they don’t seem to make a difference to you now, why should you bother? There’s plenty enough on your plate already, right?

Well, you should ignore the distant objects and storms at your own peril. While you’re sailing along, asleep on the deck, that far-away storm can swing close. That Island of opportunity might pass you by. In other words, just because it doesn’t touch you right now, doesn’t mean it won’t ever. And the more you know now, the better you can steer clear of the storms, and straight to the most fruitful of islands and ports.

So, from time to time, I’ll be introducing you to some news items that might well be off on your horizon, but bear closer scrutiny. Learn of these things, be aware of them, and you’ll be better able to adapt to them when they’re closer to you.

One of these things right now is Podcasting.

What is it? In essence, it’s like blogging, but using downloaded audio, instead of reading text. In other words, people and companies are preparing short audio programs that listeners can download and play on their computers, or on their handheld listening devices, like an iPod. The Podcasters create this listenable content on a regular basis, putting out “shows” full of interviews, news, opinions, and music. And, of course, ads (we’ll talk more about that later).

Just like the word “blog” is a blending and shortening of the term “web log”, so is the word “podcasting”. Take the words “iPod” and “broadcasting”, shorten and blend them, and you get “podcasting”.

First, just take a few minutes to explore the podcasting world. You might start at, which has some links to great articles describing what podcasting is. You might want to read the Wikipedia article all about podcasting. That’ll help explain what it is, but to really get the flavor, it’s best to finds and spin some ‘casts! There are a number of sites that host or help share the actual podcast episode files. and are just a couple. You can also go to any ordinary search engine and search for “(topic) podcast”, then start downloading and listening.

Podcasting has only been around a couple of years, and has only barely begun to make an impact on popular culture. There is some talk (full of hype, granted) of podcasting ultimately taking the place of radio. I don’t know that it will take that extreme, but this is a trend that is definitely making itself heard in our popular culture.

And right now, as the explosion is only beginning, there’s a lot of opportunity to get involved. How? In two ways:

One, create and share your own podcast. This is still a very technical option, requiring some skill with audio recording software and RSS feed hosting. It would take a beginner some time to research, or they would need to hire the work out. Ultimately, as your podcast builds audience, this could draw more visitors to your website.

To do a podcast, you would approach it the same way you would a blog. Find a theme, a focus. Find and set up a hosting/feed system. Create the content by writing and recording you podcast. Send it out regularly, to build an audience.

Two, find current podcasts that are targeting your audience and purchase advertising, both as an audio ad (much like current radio ads), and banners on the podcast homepage.

Whether or not Podcasting becomes anything more than a passing fad remains to be seen. For now, it’s an island out on the horizon that we need to watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment