Podcasting is Closer to Voicemail than Radio

Yesterday, I listened to the latest from the Podcast Brothers featuring an interview with Todd Storch. You’ve probably gleaned that I don’t see the viability of an ad subsidized podcast. As I’ve mentioned in the economics of podcasting, existing broadcasters have huge amounts of money sunk into transmitters, spectrum, studios, and talent. The easiest way to get a return on that investment is from advertisers. These sunk costs don’t exist in podcasting. So, there’s no financial pain for advertisers to heal.

For the sake of not having the advertiser conversation for a moment, let’s put down the radio metaphor.

If someone calls my phone and leaves a message – I get it automatically. When Dave Winer, Tim Elliot, Cayenne Chris, or Dave Slusher publish a new audio file, I get it automatically.

Phone messages are also very personal, relevant to a topic I’m concerned with, and vary both in frequency and duration. All characteristics of a good podcast. Voicemail also isn’t ad subsidized.

As Doc Searls famously asked in the BloggerCon Making Money session:

“What’s the business model of my telephone?”

Lawyers, accountants, coaches, and other professional consultants stake each paycheck on answering clients’ questions expertly and immediately. What’s the value of a voicemail from your accountant? Depends on the question.

How much would you pay for your accountant to leave a voicemail answering a question just before you ask it?

That’s how to make money podcasting.

In Podcasting is the New Voicemail, Ross Mayfield is thinking along the same lines:

“Soon it will be one of the simplest ways to communicate with groups.”