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Where are the “Got Milk?” but for podcasting, billboards? Where are the “Beef. It's What's For Dinner.” print layouts, but for podcasting? Where's the podcasting equivalent of animated dancing California grapes?
I haven't seen any; I bet you haven't seen any either because I'm pretty sure they don't exist.
So why not? Well, I think there are a few reasons why.
You Can’t Fry A Mobile Phone
Broadly speaking, there are two types of promotional campaigns: direct response and branding. For the agricultural ads mentioned above, they’re all about branding and have no CTA—call to action. That’s because every consumer who sees one of those ads knows exactly where the incredible, edible eggs are shelved in their grocery store.
But the same isn’t true for most people when it comes to finding podcasts. According to Edison Research, only a bit more than half of the US population has ever listened to a podcast, and less than 30% listen on a weekly basis. So even if we made big, bold ads that encouraged people to listen to podcasts, we can’t assume the majority of people exposed to an ad would have any idea how to do that.
And even if they did; would they have a decent experience? For the rare person who has never cooked beef, their grocery store probably presents less than a dozen cuts to choose from. There are 4 million podcasts and millions more episodes available. Where would a brand new person start?
And then there are the creative elements. What do you put in the ads? Pictures of people doing what... listening to something with smiles on their faces, I guess? Should commercials play snippets from podcasts? If so, how in the heck do you pick which clips from which episodes of which shows to put in a 30-second TV spot that appeals to the masses?
The Podcasting Economy Doesn’t Grow On Trees
I worked with some creative and strategically-sharp people in my days running digital advertising agencies, so I’ve no doubt that some of them would rise to those challenges and come up with an awesome media plan for the podcasting industry.
But who's going to pay for it?
The associations and councils that fund commercials for any given agricultural category are each comprised of people who have two things in common: a shared product and a shared economy.
We have a shared product in podcasting, but we absolutely do not have a shared economy. No matter what the ad firms and annual revenue tracking reports would have you believe.
You see, more people buying avocados, for example, isn't just good for the avocado industry. It's required for the avocado industry. Every person involved in the production of avocados has to have a thriving, growing avocado economy, lest they go bankrupt. That’s because no one—and I mean this literally—in the avocado industry is a hobbyist.
I had an avocado tree in my backyard when I lived in Los Angeles, but that single tree didn’t allow me to be a productive member of the avocado industry. And no one who is a member of the National Dairy Council keeps only a single milk cow as a pet or only dabbles in single udder butter on the weekends, which unfortunately is a real thing.
No, everybody involved in the industries benefited by those commercials is fully committed—if not over-leveraged—in those industries. There's no such thing as farm-fading. That's called bankruptcy or foreclosure. People can't suddenly switch their apple orchard to a walnut grove, because trees take years to grow, acres to cover, and massive amounts of capital to re-tool the production process.
With few exceptions, the people who are members of these councils or associations don’t have day jobs to fall back on. They're not dabbling in food production as a way to blow off steam in the evenings. Growing food is who they are. It’s what they do. It’s not a stretch to say it’s their life-blood. They need their council or association to fund big outreach programs from time to time to get people buying more of the particular product they produce.
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Is Podcasting Ready For A PR Push?
Do we need more public education about the amazing world of podcasting so that we can break past that 30% number and get most people consuming podcasts on a weekly basis so we can finally say our medium is on par with other forms of media? Absolutely! I think would be a huge win for our industry and benefit us all.
But it's going to be a very tough nut to crack, pun sort of intended.
We're not all in the same economic boat. We're not even following the same monetization path. And unlike the agrarians above, most podcasters haven’t invested their entire life savings in the business of podcasting. If podcasting went away tomorrow, most podcasters would be fine. Yes, of course, a lot of livelihoods would be seriously impacted, like mine. But for most podcasters, they’d just go back to something else with fond memories of their time in podcasting.
We podcasters are a wild and disparate group. And it’s very hard to build a movement around or a central organization for wild, disparate groups. Not that it’s impossible. Just hard. The course is in front of us as an industry is different than other industries, so we’re going to have to chart our own path, methinks.
I'd love to hear what you think, so please jump into the Advancing Podcasting community and let's keep the conversation going.
And if this idea sparked an idea in you, please go to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and show me your support.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.