Three Critical Words For Podcasters—Location, Location, Location
We’re running out of real estate. No, I’m not talking about dirt. Aside from some garbage dumps and a few volcanic islands nobody’s making any more of that. I’m talking about the real estate on your mobile phone or tablet. There’s only so much of it, and the flood of available apps fighting for space on mobile screens is nothing short of a population explosion.
That’s the gist of this article from the Upstart Business News website. While apps fight for space on crowded screens, most people use only two of those apps on a regular basis. That makes me think it’s time to revisit the question of personalized podcast apps. As I wrote in this interview with Jesse Lawler, personalized apps make sense as a thank you to a podcast’s loyal listeners. But now I have two reasons to doubt their value for the casual listener. The first, as before, is that unleashing a wave of one-podcast-per-app takes the industry in the wrong direction. The strategy complicates the search for new podcasts and makes it more difficult to standardize on important metrics, such as listening time (versus downloads) and audience composition.
Now there’s another consideration. Clutter your phone with all sorts of podcast apps and sooner or later neighborhood blight sets in. And then, it’s time for a major renovation. If your podcast app is not one of those left standing, then what?
Well, there’s always the usual fare of podcast apps. You’ll be in there with many other podcasts, but at least yours will still be accessible. And, there’s a good chance that the podcast app will occupy some premium space. You’ll be renting instead of owning, but at least you’ll be in an upscale neighborhood.
As landlords go, podcast apps are pretty benign—if you ignore the way they prevent you from connecting with your audience directly, keep you from getting the decent statistics you’ll need to shop your show to sponsors, improve your programming, find an optimum show length and understand the demographics and listening patterns of your audience. And, as I’ve noted before, services that insert pre-recorded spots in podcasts undercut one of the great strengths of the medium, the host-delivered commercial that is integrated into a show’s content.
Those are today’s options. As the Upstart Business News post notes, it could be that Facebook will be our new landlord. I, for one, don’t relish a future in which my success is in the hands of a company that has, more than once, wiped out business models with an overnight change of the rules.
There Goes the Neighborhood
Independent podcasting can no longer about individuality. It’s now about individual voices coupled with collaborative marketing. We can’t compete head on with podcasts that are a part of podcast networks. These networks can afford to compile the statistics their clients demand. To compete, especially in a world of declining space, independent podcasters may need to develop a shared platform, and associated app, that can win a spot on mobile devices. Or at least a guest house on Facebook’s estate.
What do you think? What’s a good strategy for maintaining our visibility on space-starved mobile screens without trusting our fate to an iTunes, Overcast or Facebook? Leave a comment and let’s start this discussion.