Mitch Joel has been talking recently on his podcast, Six Pixels of Separation, about the difference between audio and video podcasts. Then I heard John Furrier of PodTech talking about it on a podcast with Heather Green of BusinessWeek. And it all got me thinking.
Relative Value. I think John made an interesting point when he said that he felt that there was a difference in the viral nature of various forms of social media vs. their engagement level. He said that video and blogs are more viral than podcasts, but that podcasts result in higher engagement than blogs and video has higher engagement than either. On the other hand, blogs are best at SEO value.
I would also argue that web video has the potential to be more mainstream than podcasts and potentially even blogs. Consumers I think will be more willing to embrace this medium than the other two because it has a greater potential to be fun and engaging. Podcasts are likely to remain more of a niche tool — though a valuable one because of their power to connect with an influential audience. And blogs will continue to gain traction, though they lack some of the entertainment potential of video.
Format Differences. Mitch and others have pointed out that it is much harder to watch video than listen to a podcast. The number of opportunities to watch are smaller than the number to listen. In addition, video and blogs require greater attention from the audience, in most cases, whereas podcasts are more passive and support other simultaneous activity by the listener.
This suggests that podcasts can be longer than video and blogs must be kept relatively brief. To overcome those time/length limitations, they would need to be truly exceptional — even indispensable — content.
Interestingly, I find that for web video, I am more likely to engage in ones that have nearly as much value from listening as from viewing. Interviews, panel discussions, event speakers, and the like are more likely to get me to call up a web video. I need not watch 100% of the time to still extract value. On the other hand, if I am going to watch a web video in its entirety, my limit is somewhere around 5 minutes or so.
Monetization Potential. John thought that podcasts would be the most difficult to monetize, with video being easier because advertisers like to be able to show their products. It is an argument that makes sense, though monetizing video still hasn’t proven to be a wildly successful endeavor. I do believe it is coming, however. Blogs have certainly demonstrated some ability to be monetized and that trend will likely continue.
Conclusion. Different forms of media serve different purposes. Content creators should make sure that they deploy the correct medium for the goal they wish to achieve.