When I was working in Australia with Royal & Sun Alliance, a large insurance company, we were called in to fix a disaster with a insurance quoting tool that had been developed offshore and released to RSA’s customers as a downloadable application.  Unfortunately, there was no way to update the software and due to many glitches, they lost customers and credibility.  The central issue: when you take a downloadable-centric approach, versus an online content approach – files are downloaded as a single version and no longer dynamically controlled, updated or measured.

Fast forward to today and the phenomenon of Podcasting and it’s enormous potential.   It too is download focused, where users walk away with a file on their local machine or portable MP3 player.  This presents several challenges:

  1. Files are fixed and not changeable after download
  2. There are relatively few ways to measure impact, beyond just tallying downloads
  3. Many podcasted files have a short shelf-life (users play and throw away)
  4. Most podcasts appeal to smaller niche audiences, not mass market demos

To combat these challenges, a ClickZ article on Podcasting released yesterday notes that marketers are approaching podcasting with some strategies from the world of direct marketing, including custom toll free numbers and specialized URLs to measure results.   But aside from using creative forms of measurement, where are the real opportunities for marketing using podcasts?  Below are several ideas that could have potential:

  1. "Owning" a Relevant Moment – Many podcasted programs have specific moments when they are listened to, such as the daily commute home or the morning ritual to get ready for work or a busy day at home.  Developing content or sponsoring existing content targeted to these moments could offer an interesting marketing angle.
  2. Niche-targeting to Influential Enthusiasts – Achieving a relationship of brand ambassadors is the ultimate goal of many communications campaigns, and finding the right podcasts can offer a window into connected and influential individuals within a particular world.  An example is the popular Science@NASA podcast which connects with space enthusiasts, who are likely to spread the word about their interests to friends and family.
  3. Amplify Celebrity or Expert Spokesperson Campaigns – The spoken voice can be a powerful amplification of campaign messages, particularly when using a recognizable celebrity or other spokesperson.  Aside from online video, if the message is relatively stagnant online, offering podcasted content can help to bring the message to life and generate a greater impact.

As more new marketing campaigns come up using podcasting, it will be interesting to see how this list expands.  I’m currently on the lookout for marketing campaigns using Podcasts effectively – so if you’ve seen or done any strong campaigns … let me know.