Two divergent themes emerged about podcasting this week. Neville Hobson noted the cancellation of two podcasting conferences. Neville wondered if businesses had lost interest in podcasting, and whether this was specific to the UK? A few comments suggested that perhaps every business that was interested in podcasting, now knew how to do it.
Meanwhile, eMarketer reported podcasting is thriving with a 68% the recall rate compared with 10% on television. eMarketer predicts podcasting ad spend to hit $240m this year and $435m by 2012 – which is still rather paltry by the $5bn expected to be spent on Social Media in 2012.
So what’s really going on?
No-one seems to know. There is no reliable source of podcasting statistics. eMarketer’s latest report puts the total podcasting audience (people who have ever downloaded a podcast) at 25m, and the number of active podcasting audience (people who download a podcast once a week) at 7.5m. Yet this is based upon samples of the population rather than measured statistics.
How many podcasts are there? This is anyone’s guess. Steve Jobs claimed there were 125,000 podcasts available through iTunes. How many aren’t available through iTunes? No-one seems to know.
Podcasting has higher barriers than other elements of social media. You need a great voice, a healthy dose of charisma, some tech skills, the equipment and the perseverance to reach an audience. Likewise, podcasting isn’t as easy to consume as blogs or videos. You need to know how to download it and subscribe to it.
Perhaps the biggest problem is finding podcasts. It’s easy to stumble upon a blog post through a Google search, or a video in YouTube. It’s a lot more difficult to find podcasts. Podcasts need to be found.
If we can conclude anything, it’s that podcasting is a very niche activity which might never hit the mainstream like blogs or online videos. However, those who can find the niches can reap benefits either from greater awareness in their company, or from premium advertising rates.