But Pricing Models for Nascent Media Still All Over the Map

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NEW YORK ( -- HBO is joining a handful of cutting-edge marketers noodling in the very personal medium of podcasting. The Time Warner unit is out promoting �Big Love,� its series about polygamy, via 31 popular podcasts targeting women 25 and over.

Tapping a variety of shows
The podcasts HBO has signed on with are operated by both big media entities -- such as The Associated Press -- and independently-owned shows like �All You Can Eat,� produced by Vancouver-based food enthusiast Don Genova. HBO is hoping a couple hundred thousand people download the podcasts containing its ad.

Washington-based Podtrac is working with HBO�s interactive shop, Deep Focus, to put together the media plan for HBO and aims to make podcasts a more ad-friendly medium by developing measurement metrics in concert with TNS Media Intelligence and Mediamark.

Explaining how Podtrac selects which podcasts to buy, CEO and co-founder Mark McCrery, 38, said that in addition to looking at the iTunes top 100 or the Yahoo top 50, his agency checks out the Web site Podcast Alley and looks into shows honored at the People�s Choice Podcast Awards Show.

Pricing challenges
Mr. McCrery, a former account exec with Grey Worldwide, said pricing models are all over the map. �There�s not a stable market yet for podcast advertising,� he said. �Some buyers compare it to radio, some to print, some online, others consider it a separate medium worthy of its own pricing. � The next hurdle is to come up with a CPM [cost per thousand viwers]. Some shows have a really targeted audience and others have a really large audience.�

Mr. McCrery feels the portability of podcasts -- which are often downloaded to MP3 players -- in addition to narrowcasting via Web sites means they should carry a premium. Currently, the podcast ad market seems to be bearing a CPM of anywhere between $25 and $100.

Verizon, Acura also in podcast game
A number of other marketers are experimenting with podcasts, as well. Honda Motor�s Acura brand sponsors NPR podcasts, and Verizon Wireless is working with ESPN. Rocketboom, a daily humor "vlog," recently held an eBay auction to solicit advertisers. ATM company TRM Technologies won the $40,000 auction and will air the first ads March 13.

�We also have Earthlink advertising for the first week of April,� said Amanda Congdon, co-owner, co-writer and host of Rocketboom. The site, broadly targeted at young adults with an interest in the wacky world of Internet culture, claims 200,000 downloads of each show. The vlog is in talks with six other mainstream marketers interested in reaching out to the site�s audience. Ms. Congdon, a former actress living in New York, founded the site just over a year ago and now tends to Rocketboom full time.

EMarketer predicts that advertising spent on podcasts will hit $80 million by the end of the year and $300 million by 2010. The projections, released earlier this month, also estimate a podcast audience of 25 million by 2008 and 50 million by 2010.

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