Podcast marketing: Show me the results

For a project at work, I checked into existing research on how podcast creators are succeeding – or failing – to reach their intended audience.

Turns out, there’s not much. Beyond slapping a podcast on a website and listing it with iTunes and other directories, or creating a podcast for a captive employee audience, what innovative things are people doing to reach a specific group of listeners? Anyone having success partnering with schools, media outlets – particularly radio, but also other media websites – or others?

I’m looking for hard facts on who’s listening and how they’re being reached, so I thought I’d slap my preliminary research up on Blogcritics – and here, why not? – and invite readers to point out other resources on targeted podcast marketing. And if I get nothing … well, maybe this will be a useful starting point for others. Or at least shame some corporation with big bucks into doing some analysis.

Trends

Because of its recent popularization, research into podcasting beyond trends and predictions is limited. There are a lot of projections on podcasting’s potential because of the exponential growth of the number of podcasts and people using the technology.

The Diffusion Group, a digital media research firm, predicts the US podcast audience will grow to 60 million listeners by 2010.

Bridge Ratings, a radio research firm, says 4.8 million people downloaded podcasts in 2005, up from 820,000 last year, with iTunes the most popular way to access them. (See Bridge Ratings’ press release Podcasting to hit critical mass in 2010.) They predict a more conservative 45 million listeners in 2010.

Demographics

Much of the demographic information on podcast listenership is sketchy, conflicting, and based on small samples.

A June survey of 4,000 Internet users by Jupiter Research showed that 7 percent of those surveyed downloaded or listened to a Podcast in the last year (the survey predates the launch of iTunes with podcast capability). Those who regularly use RSS/XML feeds, podcasts and blogs are most likely to be users with more than 5 years of online experience, male, between the ages of 18 and 34, with annual incomes of $75,000 or more. (See eweek.com article.)

An August survey of over 8,000 American consumers by CLX showed that podcasting is most popular with those over 45, with 21 per cent of those questioned listening to podcasts. This compares to 13 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds. (See vnunet.com article.)

The demographics of those using MP3 players (such as iPods) have been used to demonstrate the untapped potential for podcasting. In Canada, sales of MP3 players more than tripled between June 2004 and June 2005. 40% of Canadian households have an MP3 player. Males between 18-34 make up the majority (60%) of the MP3 player market. (See NPD Group press release.)

However, Bridge Ratings found that only about 20% of podcast listeners download podcasts to their MP3 player, meaning the potential pool of podcast listeners goes well beyond those who have the portable devices.

Marketing

Podcast marketing tends to rely on directory listings, viral marketing (online word-of-mouth), and integration with existing online marketing tools (websites and e-mail campaigns). Since corporations are just stepping into the podcasting arena, there’s not much research into the effectiveness of podcast marketing campaigns.

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