Complementary podcasts spark webinar growth

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TechTarget has done hundreds of webcasts annually for the past few years. But when the number and price of these online events, which consist of audio plus PowerPoint presentations, started to flatten out, Dennis Shiao, director of product management for webcasts at TechTarget, had to figure out how to reinvigorate the maturing business model.

One response this year has been TechTarget's "Mediacast." "Instead of doing a single webcast and that's it, we're complementing that program with a podcast," Shiao said. When packaged together, Mediacasts are less expensive for the advertiser than the cost of a freestanding webinar plus a freestanding podcast, he said.

Shiao expects to do roughly 500 webinars in 2007, which includes the webcasts that are run as part of Mediacasts. "Last year, we did about 475 webcasts," Shiao said. "But that number of 500 webcasts [this year] doesn't count the 70 to 100 standalone podcasts we will do. When you add up all three, we'll see pretty good growth over last year."

Because the price of a Mediacast is higher than a webcast alone, revenue growth will outpace the 5% increase in the number of TechTarget webcasts. "The additional revenue from the Mediacast is 100% incremental, but the price difference between the webcast and the Mediacast is not double," Shiao pointed out, declining to reveal specifics.

But revenue is only part of the picture, he said, because Mediacasts also produce better results.

"One of our mantras is that integrated media programs perform better when there's a mix of multiple media," Shiao said. "Mediacasts are proving out that assumption."

TechTarget's podcasts are not simply the audio portion of a webinar without the slides. While they cover the same topic as the webinar, the podcasts are recorded separately ahead of time. "We recommend that clients keep their podcasts to 10 to 15 minutes," Shiao said. "The webcasts, which are usually live, last around 45 to 60 minutes with Q&A."

In addition, Shiao coaches sponsors on how to make the podcasts listenable. "One of our preferred podcast formats is to have one person interview another, like talk radio," he said.

"When the podcasts are packaged as a complement to the webinars, we promote the podcast in all places we promote the webcast," he said. Promotional e-mails have two links: one to register for the webcast and another to download the podcast immediately. Registration is required in either case.

Shiao maintained that providing potential webcast attendees with this choice has not diminished webinar registration. "The podcast is attracting registrants we otherwise would have missed," he said.

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