eMarketer, in a study released last month, estimated that 18.5 million Americans have downloaded a podcast at least once. Furthermore, in 2007, there was an active podcast audience (those who downloaded an average of one or more a week) of 6.5 million Americans. These numbers answer the tired, lingering question, "is anyone listening?" and raises a new one, "is anyone listening to you?""
I have to admit, I, too, was skeptical at first. The years I spent in radio broadcasting turned me callous to a format that can become so easily saturated with rehashed content and insipid advertising. But unlike radio, whose goal is to reach the broadest of demographics, successful podcasts target specific topics or genres, making it easier for a person to listen to exactly what they want, instead of having to sift through the slush.
In previous posts, I've talked about how imperative it is to connect to your audience on an emotional level. The web is already a very sterile and impersonal environment. By podcasting, you introduce a human element to your content; it is conversational and much easier to digest.
What is feeding the growth of podcasting? The same process by which downloading music and movies became relevant; greater awareness, no to low cost, portable media players and, returning to what i talked about earlier, it's easier to process; it puts a voice, a face, a personality to content.
2008 is expected to see those 6.5 million weekly listeners increase to 8. By 2012, the active audience should hit 25 million, with advertisers investing close to $450 million.
My advice? Look into this podcasting "fad", consider starting one of your own and work towards building a listener base with clever, refreshing content. They are all preemptive steps to take—sort of like investing in a CD—that, if executed properly, are guaranteed return.