Why do we keep selling podcasting when people want Internet radio?

If you do some SEO you already know about Google Trends. If you don’t even know what SEO means and you wonder why people never visit your site, then you should definitely go check out “Search Engine Optimization” on Google. There are plenty of resources out there and consultants willing to help you. If you pay them. Back to Google Trends: I was playing with different words to try to figure out what people are searching for, considering podcasting and similar types of audio casts on the web, and I was pretty shocked.

Podcasting is still very popular and very strong in the searches. There was a peak in 2005 when Apple added podcasting to iTunes, then it slowly decreased. But in the last year, it looks pretty stable. There are now more podcasts available and the listenership is always increasing too.

But if we compare the search volume of podcasting with that of internet radio, podcasting is just not in the game. That’s pretty easy to explain: everybody knows about radio, not podcasting. Go ask the average Joe on the street if he knows anything about podcasting. The answer will mostly be no. Now ask if they know anything about internet radio and they will mostly say yes (even if they never actually saw what an internet radio looks like) just because they know what a radio program and the Internet is.

Since podcasting hit the market back in 2004 and the name has been coined we’ve never looked back (the technology exists since 2001 and was previously called audioblogging). We’ve always called it podcasting, partly to be differentiated from “real” radio. Time has passed, the buzz has slowed down about this “new” form of media, and it’s been widely used. So widely, that the lines are now blurred among those who produce it. Traditional radio uses it more and more to redistribute content, organizations use it to raise awareness and schools put their courses in that form. The light is now on for everybody except those who started the whole movement: independant content producers doing it freely as a passion (read: “normal people like you and me”).

The truth is that, in the public’s eye, it’s pretty much all the same. And I must say that I partly agree with that. Let’s face it, podcasting is only a delivery mechanism for media content, be it audio, video, pictures or PDF documents. Of course, a vast majority of the podcasts available out there are audio podcasts. No matter where the content comes from, no matter who’s producing it, it’s a form of audio program, right? And ever since audio programs have been available to the masses, they’ve always been called radio. No matter what we think, we have to accept that podcasting IS Internet radio. In the end, it’s the public that decides and they’re searching for internet radio. So let me ask you this question again: why do we keep selling podcasting when people want Internet radio?

Photography by John Ousby

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