One of the key factors in turning podcasting into a real business is effective execution of best practices in content creation, marketing, distribution, monetization and user experience. Many publishers are not following best practices in these areas. The result often looks more like someone’s hobby than a real business endeavor.
Developing content, building audience and getting advertisers to buy in will take serious effort. Publishers who understand the huge opportunity for subscribable media and its capacity to shape the media industry’s winners and losers will step up and make the investment required.
Putting these elements into a framework allows for systematic evaluation of operating practices across publishers and for the identification of best practices for new media publishing.
The framework links the three key elements of Audience, Content and Advertisers with the critical activities of creative/production, marketing, distribution, monetization and user experience.
In each of these functional areas, there are best practices that need to be deployed to make the most of a new media business. Some of these factors are observable from the outside looking in and others require examining how things work from the inside out.
Creative and production encompass the all important aspects of conceiving the concept, translating it into a show and producing high quality content on a regular schedule.
Marketing involves many factors including the key factors like search engine optimization, iTunes/media directory optimization, syndication via RSS feeds and sharable players. Evidence of best practice marketing can be found in how well things like ID3 tags are populated, the quality of feeds, file naming practices and quality album art. These are all factors that impact how findable the media is.
Monetization can take many forms and best practice players will find the right mix that works for them. While we can’t determine how much a show makes from the outside, we can examine the presence of monetization mechanisms like advertising, premium content, sponsorships, commerce/merchandise and paid syndication.
Distribution is an important component. In this area we are specifically looking for cost effective high quality content delivery. New media files are quite large and how well the distribution infrastructure works can have a significant impact on the user experience. In many cases we can determine whether a content delivery network is being utilized and we can also observe the use of advanced file sharing technologies like BitTorrent.
Perhaps the most important and observable element of the best practice framework is the user experience. How well are the shows presented? Is the content available in a format compatible with the devices consumers want to use? Is it easy for the audience to interact with the show? What’s the online viewing experience like? The answers to these questions and the inputs of the other four elements of the framework all go into determining how effective the user experience is.
By examining these factors in detail, we can begin to identify specific changes that will improve business performance and help publishers get serious about building new media businesses.
In the weeks ahead, we will dive into each of these areas to examine best practices and to review how well different publishers are employing best practices.
[tags]podcasting, best practices, new media[/tags]