There’s no question in my mind that Apple has done more to advance the medium of podcasting than any other company. For that, I will always be grateful.
Nevertheless, I am still shaking my head in bewilderment about one thing I recently learned related to Apple and podcasts: nobody can buy advertising to promote their podcast on iTunes.
Sure, when you go to the iTunes podcast directory there are all sorts of banners and buttons promoting the virtues of various podcasts. I, like many people, had assumed that the producers of those podcasters had paid to have their podcasts promoted in this way. After all, this type of advertising model exists on a number of other podcast directories, and it’s something many of us are familiar and comfortable with.
But get this: I assumed wrong. (Yeah, yeah, I know the old saying about making assumptions…)
After several weeks of investigating this, I have discovered that what I thought were paid ads for various podcasts are, in fact, freebies that the iTunes team creates and runs. According to the various podcasters I have talked to who have been lucky enough to have one of these "ads" put on iTunes promoting their podcast, this happens out of the blue. One moment they’re scrounging for subscribers with all the rest of us pod-mortals, the next thing you know they’re signing up subscribers by the truckload thanks to a big honking "ad" on the iTunes podcast directory home page. iTunes doesn’t even notify them that the ad is running; it just appears one day.
On the one hand I love the eccentric nature of this and the fact that low-budget, independent podcasts are getting free advertising and profile alongside bigger budget "corporate" podcasts.
On the other hand, I am a little frustrated that if I wanted to boost the profile of a client’s podcast on iTunes (through the use of paid advertising) I would not be able to.
Finally, I can’t for the life of me figure out why Apple is walking away from the chance to generate significant advertising revenue. Then again, Apple’s always done things its own unique way. Think different, indeed.