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Preview: Comments on: Help me win a wager on podcasting.

Comments on: Help me win a wager on podcasting.

Comments on Ask MetaFilter post Help me win a wager on podcasting.

Published: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:09:06 -0800

Last Build Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:09:06 -0800


Question: Help me win a wager on podcasting.

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:03:07 -0800

PodcastFilter- My co-worker thinks that podcasting is just a fad and that a year from now this "craze" will have passed. I think she's wrong and have wagered her on it. What independent third party source can we use to measure how wrong she is?

We power PCs at work, so we can't access the iTunes music store (IT policy.) I'm not sure something like this or this could paint a complete picture. Other ideas?

BACKGROUND: We both work at an ad agency (media only) and her comment about it being a fad came in a meeting. Since she's a little higher up the ladder, people seemed to take her word for it. I think that after we can quantify who is listening/downloading podcasts and can somehow get demographic info from these people it could be a viable advertising medium. I definitely don't think it's going away anytime soon. Too much money has already been invested by big media.

For the record, she's got mad smarts and is fun to hang out with. This isn't personal.

A roll of dimes to the winner.

By: delmoi

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:09:06 -0800

Maybe something analyze how often the word 'podcast' apears on blogs?

By: SuperNova

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:10:12 -0800

Hmm. Not sure exactly how one would define a fad, but maybe you could do a LexisNexis search for how many times "podcasting" is mentioned in some major media outlet(s) -- you know, NYTimes, WashPost, Time, Newsweek, etc. Maybe take several to eliminate a sampling bias -- say, if the entertainment editor at the Times is behind the curve, hates Apple, etc., then you don't want his views to color your, um, study.

Lexis is pretty expensive, so it might not be worth it. Then again, if you can get to a local university or maybe even public library with access, you can "borrow" it.

Good luck!

By: o2b

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:15:20 -0800

One indicator is how quickly Apple put a ton of work into making iTunes and iPods podcast-compatible. It seemed like the word had just been invented, then the next month Apple was all over it. Podcasts fall perfectly into the digitally-distributed world that Apple seems to be envisioning.

By: gaby

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:15:47 -0800

Try checking the ITMS podcast stats from home. Look up podcast on technorati, or

By: kindall

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:26:14 -0800

I don't understand podcasting any more than I understand audiobooks. I can read about fifty times faster than people talk, so listening to recordings of people reading things is a mighty time-wasting manner of getting infotainment into my head.

Now I can see some value to a music podcast, but most of them aren't.

Since I see no utility whatsoever in it, I expect podcasting will have a long and fruitful life.

By: delmoi

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:27:38 -0800

o2b: First of all the iPod is an audio player, and podcasts are just files you can download and play on your audio players, along with some RSS crap that only requires like 10 minutes of coding to implement.

By: terrapin

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:28:55 -0800

My mother-in-law works at a major university that is using podcasting for distance learning. Allowing professsors to use blogs and podcasts to reach students who can't make it to the classroom for whatever reason they may have. I think that is a good thing.

By: odinsdream

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:33:57 -0800

I'm not sure what you mean. Is "podcasting" as a term a fad that will fall out of popularity? Yes, I think so. Is subscribing to audio shows that are published on a variety of schedules with software that automatically pulls down the latest files and puts them on your portable audio player a fad that will fall out of popularity? No.

Both of those are the same thing.

By: terrapin

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:35:45 -0800

to sort of play off of kindall's comment: podcasting and learning also go hand-in-hand for people with learning disabilities like dyslexia. Or are helpful for students who have limited vision or blindness.

As for comparing audiobooks and podcasting (at least as kindall put it) I don't see the correlation. Yes, you can read faster than someone can talk, but can you also read while driving? (yes, you can, but it would be stupid). Audiobooks and regular books serve a different audience. Just as podcasting and blogging can serve different audiences.

To use this in marketing sense, why not adopt a technology that helps one reach a different audience/demographic/money-spending person? It isn't all that much more cost-prohibitive and it certainly doesn't require much technical know how.

By: smackfu

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:41:47 -0800

Will Odeo, a company based on making podcasts as easy as possible, still be around in a year? That's objective.

By: Cosine

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 11:56:59 -0800

First off she's nuts, you say she's intelligent if so how is it possible that she thinks it will fade out? Will music fade out? audiobooks? television? radio? Then why the hell would she think timeshifting audio content and listening to it on any number of devices would die out? Does she think timeshifting television programming (tivo, etc) will die out? If so then WHY does she think this? If not then why does she think video is going to make it and audio isn't?

I would love to hear her logic on this, can you expand any?

As for proving it you likely will be fine doing nothing, the mdeia/marketplace/public will make her well aware if it is dying out or growing.

By: jzb

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 12:30:12 -0800

"My co-worker thinks that podcasting is just a fad and that a year from now this "craze" will have passed. I think she's wrong and have wagered her on it."

The only way to find out is to wait a year.

By: mbrubeck

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 12:41:58 -0800

kindall: It's not time-wasting if you're doing something else (exercising, driving, housework...) at the same time. If you spend time on those things anyway, why not listen to some freshly downloaded audio content while you're at it?

By: mendel

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 12:42:18 -0800

Folks, I think the question is "How will we measure it a year from now", not "Is she right", or "What side would you take?".

By: o2b

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 12:51:14 -0800

delmoi: I understand the difference, thanks.

My point, which I didn't spell out, was that Apple very rapidly embraced the technology, which goes beyond simple MP3 playback -- chapters, multiple embedded images, play-from-where-stopped functionality, a specialized category, subscription scenarios, etc.

Apple is vigorously building the on-demand delivery system for media, so they are likely to continue encouraging podcast creation and distribution for a long time, or, as long as they have iPods to sell.

By: stovenator

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 13:12:30 -0800

You can use the blog trends feature on IceRocket, to view the trend of terms like podcast or podcasting.

An Example is shown here.

By: UncleHornHead

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 13:23:47 -0800

Cosine - She isn't as tech savvy as you or me. I think she is looking at it from an advertising perspective. I agree, a little dim.

mendel - Thanks.

Stovenator- Thank you. The problem I have is that sites like the sample you show only mentions podcasts. It isn't necessarily indicative of the number of podcasts. But I think it IS indicative of the buzz and whether the medium will fade.

By: stovenator

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 13:28:39 -0800

It is hard to separate buzz vs. actual use. Take for example Usenet newsgroup postings. Usenet lost much of its buzz years ago, even though actual use today is still somewhat strong.

By: scottreynen

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 13:53:45 -0800

You could track numbers of search results over time: Google News,, Yahoo News, Technorati. Any of those graphed over time should give a decent indication of trends as far as use of the word "podcast." If you want to track actual number of podcasts, you could track result counts for a vague search, e.g. "the", on something like Yahoo's podcast search. As far as actual listeners, you won't have access to that data because it's only available in the logs of the sites hosting individual podcasts. There's no Nielsen report for podcasts.

By: kindall

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 14:35:19 -0800

It's not time-wasting if you're doing something else (exercising, driving, housework...) at the same time. If you spend time on those things anyway, why not listen to some freshly downloaded audio content while you're at it?

1) If I'm paying attention to the podcast/audiobook I'm not paying attention to what I'm doing, and vice versa.

2) I could listen to music instead, which I'd probably get more out of (see #1).

By: Hildago

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 17:05:08 -0800

odinsdream has the right angle on this problem. You have to define what you mean by "podcasting" first.

Depending on how you look at it, "podcasting" is either simply putting the URI of an audio file into an tag in an XML file, which is a useful technology that is not going away in the next year, guaranteed, OR "podcasting" is the act of narrating your diary or low-budget radio program into a microphone and posting it on your blog.

The last usage is much more likely to disappear, though I don't think it'll happen in a year.

Simply syndicating audio content (the first usage) is great for distance learning, independent music, radio stations, etc... but personally I don't think the "audioblog" concept is really all that great, and I wouldn't be sad if it died tomorrow.

Though, as kindall says, that probably means it'll be the most popular thing ever.

By: Good Brain

Tue, 13 Dec 2005 23:02:46 -0800

I don't think the success or failure of Odeo should be a sole criteria on the success or failure of podcasting. I don't even think a portfolio of current podcasting companies necessarily provide a good indicator. They all could be completely wrong about what will be a successful, defensible business model involving podcasting.