Coming Soon To Podcasts, More Advertising!

The advertising industry has developed new and innovative ways to generate cash from podcasts. At this early stage, the ideas are nothing more than substance-free buzzwords; there is a promised “multifront initiative” that features “improvements in technology.” We don’t know what that means to the average podcast listener, but wow, doesn’t it sound exciting? The few concrete ideas that have emerged are unimaginative and dated. From the New York Times:

Ms. Bratton, who is an online advertising industry veteran, said she believes she has found at least one good format for running advertisements within podcasts. In addition to placing a sponsor’s advertisements at both ends of a show, she also inserts an advertisement in the middle.

“Say you’re listening,” Ms. Bratton said. “You’ll hear an ad about sponsoring the show from the Omega Institute at the start. Then you get into the show, and halfway through there’s a commercial break, where you have more detail on Omega’s summer programs. Then at the end of the show the final commercial says, ‘Find out more at’ “

Ms. Bratton added, “I have the ability to not just have a single ad in front and end, but a series of them that’ll tell the story.”

15 companies, including Apple and NPR, will join forces to form a new industry group: The Association for Downloadable Media. Topping their wish list, technology that allows advertisers to dynamically alter and track ads on podcasts that have already been downloaded. As long as we can still skip through the ads, we don’t mind the relatively innocuous privacy incursion.

Are the ads currently on podcasts tolerable? Do you even listen to podcasts? Tell us in the comments.

Podcasters Unite to Figure Out a Role for Ads [NYT]
(Photo: omar_chatriwala)


Edit Your Comment

  1. iMike says:

    Inserting ads at the front, end and now middle? That’s genius!

  2. AnnieGetYourFun says:

    Revolutionary. DON’T TELL THE PEOPLE WHO ADVERTISE ON TV. If my shows start getting shorter due to new-fangled “commercial breaks” in the middle, I’ll be peeved.

  3. lordbeef says:

    I not only put peanut butter on one piece of bread, but I also put jelly on the other and then I combine the two to form a “sandwich” of flavor!

    I think this is innovation in action

  4. bluemeep says:

    I can honestly say I’ve never had enough interest in any podcasted subject to bother downloading one, sticking it on my MP3 player and then waiting for a time when I’ve got nothing else to do but listen to it. And upon hearing this information, I’ve managed to care even less about the format.

  5. Starfury says:

    So does this means that someone will invent a Tivo device for listening to podcasts?

  6. ancientsociety says:

    @bluemeep: My sentiments exactly

  7. muckpond says:

    i’ve found that all of my downloaded podcasts are just radio shows that i either can’t get here or want to listen to on my schedule. so, in essence, it IS just a tivo for the radio.

  8. Hawkins says:

    @muckpond: My podcast usage is the same as Muckpond’s. I live in BF,E, but like to listen to a couple of radio shows from the big city.

    It’s not exactly Tivo for the radio, since I can’t pause the live broadcast. I have to wait for them to be posted.

    Shockingly: there are occasional commercials. If I don’t like them, I skip over them. Works out pretty good.

  9. hollerhither says:

    For all the talk about podcasts, the actual # of listeners still isn’t all that impressive save for the absolute highest-ranked shows.

    So how much are companies going to pay for a minimal number of impressions? Smacks of “people aren’t watching real-time broadcast tv, now what” desperation.

    Some podcasts do have very targeted audiences which would be higher value even if small — in which case more creative sponsorships should be explored beyond just jamming another ad in there.

  10. timmus says:

    Isn’t “podcast” just a fancy word for “MP3”?

    Well, bye bye, I’ve got to go read some more Web 2.0 now.

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    @Starfury: Tivo does have a podcast service for both audio and video content, all you need is a broadband connection. That being said, I don’t really mind the occasional commercial thrown in. It doesn’t come off as very obtrusive and makes it feel like any other radio show or TV broadcast.

  12. B says:

    @Starfury: Most MP3 players have a fast forward button built-in already, so a TIVO like device isn’t necessary.

  13. Skiffer says:

    Didn’t Tivo kill the Podcast star?

    Eh, nowhere near as catchy…

  14. Anitra says:

    I only listen to a few podcasts, but the only “professional” one is from NPR. It has about the level of advertising I’d expect from NPR – quick blurbs at the beginning and end, mostly encouraging the listener to “check us out on the air” and “go to our website”. (In this case, they are ads for the same show, but they could easily be swapped out for sponsors).

    I rarely listen to commercial radio, and when I do, I am shocked by the content-to-ad time ratio. As long as podcasting more closely resembles NPR for ads, I don’t mind.

    I envision advertisers being happy to be on a format where listenership can be estimated more accurately. But I think if podcasting ads are to be successful, they’ll need to resemble a hybrid of old-time radio sponsorship and modern web ads. If it’s the same old radio ads, people will tune out quickly.

  15. yellojkt says:

    There are a lot of good indie podcasts out there that deserve support, but the hurdle to actually download, use, and hear a podcast is enormous. I can’t blame advertisers for being so wary.

  16. vinylboy20 says:

    I listen to a lot of podcasts, and in the few that do have advertisements, I pretty much ignore the ads. I can’t tell you what gets advertised on The Onion podcasts, even though there’s an ad almost every day.

  17. Xerloq says:

    Did I misread this?

    “Topping their wish list, technology that allows advertisers to dynamically alter and track ads on podcasts that have already been downloaded.”

    I’m an advertiser, and I want a technology that dynamically changes the advertisements in magazines that have already been purchased.

    Perhaps I’m having a Homer Simpson moment, but I don’t understand this.

    Might as well have DARPA fund a project to predict the future.

    Oh. Wait.

  18. Avren4 says:

    Podcasts that have ads that are at the beginning or in the middle of the content are the ones that quickly lose me as a subscriber, as they are too annoying to listen to.

    Short, topical advertisements at the end of the content are tolerable, but only because I can easily skip them once I’m finished listening to podcast itself, if it doesn’t catch my interest immediately.

  19. pestie says:

    @bluemeep: Yeah, I’m pretty much with you on that one. I don’t get into the whole “blog scene” either. I mean, sure, Consumerist rocks, but that’s ’cause it’s about something, not just some introverted navel-gazer blathering on about whatever comes to mind.

    I’ve even toyed with the idea of podcasting myself, but the whole “podcasting community,” with it’s “blogospheric” feel and associated lameness, put me off the whole thing. So much of what goes on in the “blogosphere” (and it pains me to type that word) and other “virtual communities” like Deviant Art or LiveJournal, seems like a gigantic circle-jerk to me. Everyone’s supposed to pay close attention to everyone else, get all entangled in their drama, but nobody outside the community gives a rat’s ass about any of it.

  20. Thrust says:

    Ok. Help me figure this one out…

    CUSTOMERS… the people who pay for everything that everyone sells, are pretty sick of advertising as it is. The more you pester these “customers”, the less likely they will BUY that shit they are bombarded with ads for. So why is the solution to bombard them with more ads?

    Marketing people of the world! Find a way to do your jobs promoting products without annoying the target demographic or all the non-target people caught in your shotgun blast methods. Figure out how to do this, and you will succeed. Fail, and I shall send an army of Raccoons armed with Lightsabers to chop off/out your genitals and remove three random fingers from each hand. You have been warned (<0>.<0>)

  21. BucketJen says:

    I’m disappointed in the definition of innovative in this article. To me, truly innovative advertising would be to integrate it with the podcast itself. Not wrap it around each end and force a break in the middle. If you want to reach listeners, advertising should not require a “break”. It should be integrated with content in a way that is relevant to the listener, not just tacked on willy nilly. That would be innovative, and that is the direction advertisers should be going. Ad inserts are old news for old media. Time to move on.

  22. Husker-fan says:

    I’m kind of a newbie to mp3 players in general.
    I only got my first one about 2 months ago. I couldn’t figure out how to download podcasts, so I didn’t really care.
    Since finding the itunes store, it’s a whole new ball game for me. I now subscribe to about 2 dozen podcasts. There’s not enough time in a day for me to view every web page I’d like to – I do have a job, and try to get SOME sleep – so I listen to podcasts to get a lot of the information I don’t have time to read online. I listen while doing the day to day house chores, and even during slow periods at work.

    As far as ads go, I barely notice them. As long as I don’t get 8 minutes of ads for every 22 minutes of actual podcast (the television ratio) I think I can put up with them. I just don’t think inserting ads into the middle of a podcast counts as being innovative or creative for an advertiser.
    Count me among those who feel that integrating the ad into the format of the program would be more innovative. ie, the host of a podcast talking about new gadgets segueing into an ad by saying something like “and speaking of cool gadgets, how about trying out the new tech item from our sponsor _____” followed by a brief description.

    Sorry for being longwinded. Just a drawn out way of saying, I listen to podcasts and don’t mind the occasional ad.

  23. Sam says:

    I listen to a lot of podcasts: from the TWIT network, Sierra Club, and NPR. They all have great ad formats — at the beginning and sometimes at the end. The podcasts from TWIT have the plug during the show, but that’s often entertaining enough that I don’t care.

    In contrast, I only listened to the Cranky Geeks podcast once. The interstitial ads annoying the crap out of me.

  24. swingercast says:

    Most of the people producing podcasts have nearly zero knowledge of traditional advertising. I’m not pointing that out to fault them, but that’s just the way it is. Once podcasters figure out a way to monetize their shows and at the same time build their audiences, you nay-sayers will be kicking yourselves for not starting a podcast of your own sooner.