Getting personal

There has been a very good and spirited discussion about Audible’s efforts to measure and serve ads on podcasts with many pioneers — Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Om Malik — giving their reaction and Mitch Ratcliffe, who helped create the Audible product, responding in turn. Audible should be listening to the marketplace to figure out how to make this work, for the marketplace is telling them they’re on the wrong road. Maybe they will. But it certainly doesn’t help when Mitch gets personal about Dave. Dave responds as well he should.

I understand what it feels like to work hard on a product only to find some people issuing Bronx cheers. The design of the first Entertainment Weekly sucked. I couldn’t say that out loud; I did need to defend our product. But we rushed the fastest redesign in magazine history because we listened. Audible: You’re trying to do something for and with the podcasting world and the podcasting world is giving you tons of good advice. Listen first. Turn off the microphone and leave your headset on.

: Doc also here and here and Mitch comes back here. The personal stuff is only noise.

: LATER: Ben Barren does a great analysis of Audible’s 3-cents-per price for measuring each listen of each podcast. I translated that into a $30 CPM and said it was insane. Ben shows how those numbers compute for one ‘cast, Keith and the Girl, to demonstrate just how insane it is:

Chemda (the girl) mentioned last week they had 500,000 listeners. Remember they have no advertising. Yet, Their Own Choice. They’re not even sure what Adam Curry does or what his business model is. Listen to their other LA episodes this week : Here and here. Times that by 3 cents per listen for the charge audible want for tracking stats and .AA conversion I assume : That equals $15,000 for one episode of Keith and Hurl. Times that by 5 shows per week. $75,000 a week. Lots of vig there. Ill give audible benefit of doubt and say 4 weeks per month. That’s $300,000 or $3.6 million per year for K+TG to get stats on listeners. (and remember you can listen to podcasts on your PC and not enter any user details so im not sure how audible really think they will get comprehensive user details) Im sure you can run your discount factors, non-active subscriber numbers, monthly churn rates, % of those that dont listen to the whole podcast – to get to a total KeithandtheGirl monthly usage number, but if you want my opinion, Audible just spent $35K on a Wordcast Sponsorship for the “Portable Media Expo” to build “negative brand equity” as they used to say in my DDB ad agency days.

See, too, Mike Arrington’s proper fit over Audible’s moves.

There are some interesting features that add to the podcasting discussion and normally I’d write about it over at TechCrunch. For instance, Much of what Audible is doing is goes way beyond what Fruitcast (TechCrunch profile) is allowing publishers to do. While Fruitcast allow insertion of ads into podcasts and tracks downloads, Audible is able to pingback listening metadata as well (albeit via a closed file format and crazy prices), something that will be very interesting for publishers.

But wow, did they ever screw up the follow up to the announcement.

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  • First let me say that I agree with you in regards to the personal nature of the debate – people really need to learn how to debate/argue their points on the merit of the points rather than resorting to personal attacks. But this is a bigger problem that we will just need to address by calling it when we see it and making people realize that it is wrong – we should all know better by now.

    Still, I do take exception with your characterization of “the marketplace is telling them they’re on the wrong road” and that Audible should listen. The market has yet to really respond, as of now I can only hear the most loudly amplified voices. As we have previously discussed, the point is people – let’s see what people decide about this as we do with most things. That is not to say that we should not criticize or express our points of view, but we should definitely not characterize a handful of thought leaders as speaking for the entirety of the market either.

    Personally I understand what they are trying to accomplish, and it is a tough problem, one that the MP3 format was not designed to handle. I am more interested in the outcome of the experiment and the big bet/risk that Audible is placing here once a broader selection of podcasters, marketers and listeners respond with their wallets. I am not an audible customer, shareholder nor do I have any stake in the outcome here other than to point out that the discussion insofar as I have seen it is more of an attack and defend on vaguely related points and sub-points rather than being a serious discussion of the facts.

    A while back I wrote the first part of a 2 parter (still to come) that talks about the role of marketing in emerging social media from a more historical angle and how it was necessary for advertisers to play a role due to the enormous burden in costs of distribution. I believe there will be a place for free and open MP3 based podcasting and other advertising supported ones (isn’t this what Adam Curry is working on?), so I am just glad to see the conversation is going on, and I hope everyone can realize that one person with a different point of view is not stupid nor worthy of mass scotn for holding a different opinion. More importantly, I hope we can all just learn to get along because ultimately (at least with regards to the players involved insofar as I have come to know them) everyone really wants what is best, they just disagree on the what and how of it all. Which is the point of “Markets as conversations” isn’t it?

    Would love your feedback on my earlier post in light of this conversation.

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