Leo LaPorte, the host of TWiT gave the closing keynote at Podcast Academy. This was one of those talks that's pretty fun to listen to, but hard to blog.
Leo mentions that TWiT has started to take ads. Interestingly he gets quite a bit of pushback from listeners saying things like "now that you've started running ads, you'll never be honest about Dell again..." Certainly, this is no different than technology magazines or technology Web sites, but people feel differently about the editorial conflict of interest. Perhaps this is because podcasts are more intimate? He's not sure.
He's turned down ad offers before because he was waiting for marquee names (Visa, Dell, T Mobile, Showtime) in an effort to show that podcasting is a real channel. He believes that these companies will be blown away by the effectiveness of podcasts as an advertising medium.
When someone's listening to a podcast, they went to some effort to listen. They're not channel surfing, they're making a connection. People feel like they're the podcast hosts' friend.
TWiT is 120 minutes. Over 20,000 listeners in a poll said they wanted the longer format. TWiT's audience wants it to be more technical, not less technical. Treat your audience right--they're intelligence. Super-serve the niche. That's critical in narrowcast media. If you're doing a program on golf, you don't have to appeal to people who don't like golf. Do a program for people who love golf... Don't dumb it down.
Advertisers still think they need to reach large, broad audiences. In the next 3 or 4 years, they'll realize that narrowcast media delivers better results.
Making that work requires that people remember that they're not there to reach their hands in the audience pockets. Love your audience and they'll love you. Embrace the niche. Have a conversation with your audience. They'll say hateful, hurtful things. Respond kindly.
If you want people to be interested in your podcast (and this applies to blogs too), get them to do something like give a buck. Then they're invested in you.