The Long Reach

Two articles about new media demonstrate the
long reach of the desire to sell, sell, sell. Major corporations are trying to
figure out how to provide content through podcasts and advertise on RSS feeds.

Anytime a medium
attracts a large
audience, people
begin to think
through and figure
out ways to
deliver ads to
that audience
Tim Ruder
vice president of
marketing for
Washingtonpost.com

The desire to sell and sell more is unquenchable. Now big corporations are looking at podcasting to see if it offers them an opportunity to provide content that will sell their products. The problem is, of course, finding something to say that’s interesting enough to motivate people to take a commercial message along with them when the value of podcasting is that it frees you from the constraints and commercialism that has become so intrusive in the first place. A good overview is here.

It’s going against the grain of the technology to think this will ever develop into a meaningful strategy. But the appetite of the commercial mindset is voracious, so if it’s possible someone will find a way to penetrate this private space as they have found a way to intrude on every other space.

Next up is how to appropriate RSS feeds and drop advertising into them. That story is here. Studies are underway to determine how web users respond to ads on RSS feeds and how they use them. It’s part of the ongoing story. As new media develop someone looks for a way to coopt them for commercial purposes.

In this case there’s a touch of irony. RSS feeds are likely to replace email as a medium for reaching customers in the near-term because people reject spam. The thinking behind the current move to RSS is that the reader is already engaged and is more receptive to the pitch.

It’s a more targeted medium and likely more efficient and productive. But it does seem to me that we are so saturated with messages that breaking through the defenses we’ve all learned to put up will be a challenge. And at this point, unless something is really, really intriguing, I’m not downloading it to my iPod or the desktop.

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