By Richard Fusco
Fashion multi-tasking, the next behavioral zeitgeist soon to arise from podcasting and wearing your music. What do we mean? Say you're jogging. You are aware of your surroundings so your run is not cut short by some other moving vehicle. You are also thinking about the meeting you are going to have later that day with your boss. And finally, you are listening to your iPod.
Based on the above example, one might assume that your podcast is last on the mental multi-task list, since it does not affect your immediate circumstances. However, in reality, it is just the opposite. You give it more attention than all of them combined. Why? Because it is elective. You chose it for any number of reasons. It is the one you want to keep you company.
Strike A Pod There's Nothing To It
Two of these, your running and visual radar navigation tasks can be ratcheted down from your attention battery storage by putting them on "cruise control." Of course that assumes that you have already programmed your running pace and vision radar with the right "business rules" ...that is, the experience that helps you keep your pace stable and to know what to look for to avoid getting hit by some other moving vehicle (automobile, bicyclists, other runners etc).
You know you can never turn off your mental "talk show," the one that runs 24/7. The one that talks to you all day long and keeps you occupied most creatively while you're sleeping, which we normally refer to as dreams.
Let's say in this case, your voice is opining about everything under the sun. You are mentally preparing for the meeting, considering what you will wear and what you may say; all the while adding in tangential thoughts of all kinds (which we do NOT need to cover here other than give one example; to say what you think of your boss, or client, or significant other, and/or what time you will get to the dry cleaners).
One might liken it to people sitting around the radio in the early 20th century, seemingly glued to the speaker, hanging on every word the radio announcer spoke. Or at the dawn of TV, when people were so enamored of the boob tube that they even watched the test pattern.
As we all know, the interest and attention people ultimately gave to these vehicles decreased over time. However, the advertisers who jumped in first while consumer interest was at an all time high succeeded more on average than those who took a wait and "see" position.
That being the case, with TV-A.D.D attention syndrome at an all time high, reflecting of course that consumer attention is at an all time low, those marketers who embrace podcasting will be heard.
Is Your Business Ready For Podcasting?
This week's Information Week reported that podcasting is fast becoming a small business tool.
Just look at the electronics companies entering the field to
Walking down the streets of Manhattan or jogging in the park, it seems everybody is wearing earphones and in their own little audio world. I have literally bumped into the few or they bumped into me. I ask them what they are listening to. Most are listening to music. They load in their favorite ten thousand songs and hit random select. But more and more are turning to Audible, techweb and podshow for much more specific niche-based enterainment and information. This new medium has already caught on as fast as Walkman.
This behavior is growing. Jupiter Research reported that shipments of MP3 players in the U.S., leaped to over 35% to 18.2 million in 2005 and will grow at an annual rate of over 10% through 2010, reaching an installed base of 56.1 million by then, up from 16.2 million in 2004. "Historically, any new device or medium that reaches a U.S. household penetration of 15% to 20% creates a critical mass of customers for other products and services," said David Card, VP and Senior Analyst at JupiterResearch.
But that is just the tip of the podcast penetration iceberg. Wikipedia defines "podcasting" audio files available online in a way that allows software to automatically download the files onto a user's computer for listening at the user's convenience. Mobile devices are not necessary to listen to a podcast. They can be listened to on the home or office computer or laptop as easy, in fact, easier than on an MP3 player.
Podcast penetration is not only based on the installed base of MP3 players. Any computer with broadband access can play podcasts. Nielsen/NetRatings data says broadband household connectivity in the US grew to 59% in May and projects near 70% by 2006. The most active home Internet users connect with broadband connections.
At work broadband connectivity is higher with 82% of US Internet users at work having a high-speed connection. I am not done yet. Now add cell phones into the mix. Podcasts can also be downloaded to cell phones. Cable penetration is currently at about 67% of U.S. households. Do the math.
Podcasting needs to refine its content and produce more programming that is beyond the hobbyist level. It is, and doing that rapidly. But with the additional bells and whistles that it offers such as interactivity, target-ability and accountability and with already significant penetration and consistent growth likely to continue, I can safely say the podcasting media revolution/evolution is here.
Re-purposed ads will not cut it. Advertisers need to aggressively jump in now and develop and test new podvertising models that take advantage of all this emerging new medium has to offer. Like jogging in the park, if you allow yourself to get distracted from finding the best means to sell your products and services, you may be hit with something very unexpected, like your competition mowing you down.
Richard Fusco (845 679-4473, email@example.com) is a new media consultant based in Woodstock, New York. His background includes radio programming, the music industry, the Internet, streaming media, iTV, targeted streaming ad insertion, content production/distribution and marketing/advertising strategies and creative for the emerging podcasting environment.