By S. Housley
Although podcasting is new, it is well on its way to becoming a mainstream medium of communication. Podcasting, simply put, are audio files that are delivered via RSS. Many people believe that podcasting is used solely for the distribution of music files, but nothing could be further from the truth. This emerging method of audio file distribution has opened an array of marketing and communication opportunities to businesses. Currently, most people who are familiar with podcasting are technically savvy; however, it is clear that podcasting will be more than a passing fad, as many businesses are adopting podcasting and employing it in unusual yet powerful ways. Podcasting can be used for talk shows, tutorials, music demos, educational training, stories, comedy clips, debates, and even foreign language tutorials.
While RSS has had the capacity to include audio files for a few years, only recently have entrepreneurs made the conceptual leap, taking advantage of the new power held within this communication medium. In reality, podcasters currently cover the gamut; some are professional broadcasters, while others are obvious amateurs.
Podcasts are usually published with associated meta information that includes descriptive data about each specific audio file. This allows listeners to determine which audio items are of interest to them. If listeners use a news aggregator that supports podcasting, they will automatically receive updates in their feed reader or news aggregation software when a new podcast exists for a feed to which they have subscribed.
Why is podcasting so beneficial to the subscriber?
Unlike with traditional radio, with podcasting, the subscriber decides what content he or she receives. Podcasting is extremely useful to subscribers, because users can easily receive desired information and listen to it at any time. The material, once downloaded, can be listened to and viewed on wireless handhelds, allowing subscribers to utilize time on the road.
Topic-specific radio talk shows with commentaries, interviews, and debates can now be heard at the time and place of the listener’s choosing. Consider, for example, the benefits for educational tutorials and foreign language instruction: Lessons could be listened to during a work commute. Supplementary class lectures, step by step tutorials, or walking guides are all possible using podcasting. An unlimited collection of audio books for elderly or visually-impaired listeners only scratches the surface of what is possible in the future of podcasting.
The fate of podcasting is in the hands of the subscribers. Subscribers can easily delete podcast feeds that do not satisfy their needs with the single tap of a button. Ultimately, the subscriber maintains control and determines which podcasts of which to take advantage. This level of listener control intrinsically builds in superior quality control and ensures that the most innovative instructional and interesting podcast feeds survive.
The technology is fresh and, like the Internet, is opening doors for entrepreneurs. As podcasting evolves, users will find more and more creative audio content to deliver. The low barrier to entry has forced this new medium to the forefront, as businesses and individuals have little to lose in adding podcasting as a communication channel.