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Spiders With Ears, Searching The Podcast Future

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The potential as well as the rapid early adoption of the podcast has the Internet industry buzzing to the point that some media aficionados are singing the dirges of print and traditional radio. At the forefront of the phenomenon is WebmasterRadioFM, a company that is developing the kind of artificial intelligence capable of spidering mp3 files for indexing. Yes, spiders with ears.

“This technology will change and shape how media search is done. Crawling the mp3 file is the future of media search,” announced Daron Babin, CEO of NewGen Broadcasting and owner of WebmasterRadioFM at PubCon 2005 in Las Vegas. Babin had just left a portable media expo in Ontario, California before speaking to a packed showroom of 2500 attendees.

Then he dropped another prediction.

“Print, if it’s not dead yet, is dying quickly,” he said, contrasting that fate with the potential of a brand new medium.

“The marketplace for podcasting is wide open. If you jump in, it should come from your heart with passion,” he said with words reminiscent of radio and print purists.

His impassioned presentation was supported by a blur of statistics, all indicating a market ripe for a boom.

A Bridge Ratings study estimates that 4.8 million people have at some time in the past year downloaded a podcast from either a radio station or other source, an estimate up from 820,000 podcast users in 2004. One survey also revealed that the preferred length of podcasts is 1-1.5 hours long.

By 2010, after widespread acceptance of technologies like Apple’s iPod and distribution media like iTunes, the study estimated that 45-75 million people will be listening to podcasts.

The earliest adopters of podcasts have been males (97%), 68% of whom also subscribe to RSS feeds, which means not only is there room for demographic marketing growth, but also that the success of podcasting may be closely tied to the success of the RSS feed.

Over the next four years, pioneers like WebmasterRadioFM will be working out the bugs to make podcasts more accessible. They’ll accomplish this through advancing search technology, finding effective means of distribution, developing an infrastructure to support podcast growth and compelling content creation, building revenue models for effective monetization, and finding good ways to track podcast success after it hits the Web.

Spiders With Ears, Searching The Podcast Future
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