Commanding Podcasts

The Journal’s Dave Kesmodel writes today about several companies’ marketing deals with niche podcasts to tout their wares. The typical sponsorship involves a media buy in exchange for some kind of traditional commercial mention, e.g., “brought to you by,” or a product give-away.

From a marketing perspective, these micro channels allow the company to efficiently and cost-effectively reach the audience demographic it seeks in an increasingly hyper-fragmented media environment. Still, the growing practice simply applies an old marketing approach to a new delivery channel. We’re not even talking about working messages into news and programming content — frequently the domain of the PR practitioner.

Mr. Kesmodel observes how PR departments often are charged with creating podcasts that (less-overtly) associate the company’s products or services with the programming. He writes:

“A number of large companies, including General Motors Corp. and Whirlpool Corp., have seized on the popularity of the broadcasts as part of their marketing strategies to tech-savvy consumers. The companies have little to lose – podcasts can be created cheaply with little more than a microphone and a computer. Often, the hosts of corporate podcasts are public-relations staffers who are doing double duty.”

It’s encouraging that companies have seized on some of the new digital tools for marketing purposes, but will new media purists purists pundits denounce this as just more corporate “command-and-control” tactics, albeit with a more modern (and viral) means of content distribution? Ultimately, I believe, message control will endure and be melded into CGM, but the exact blend remains a TBD.