While walking the streets of San Francisco, Podtech CEO John Furrier took a few minutes after a meeting to answer some questions about Podtech’s business plans. Public announcements have been rare of late, and only hints have been made by star blogger hire Robert Scoble.
The moves Podtech has been making have appeared to counter some commonly held assumptions about what kinds of online media will succeed and how to profit from that success. Almost inaudible amidst the buzz about Amanda Congdon working for ABC News and web-enabled reality television is the sound of media possibilities changing in a very fundamental way.
“The net is all about an on-demand and community approach. It’s not about being pretty, it’s about delivering value to the audience. In these audiences, credibility is key,” said Furrier, who is signing up teams to produce material on narrowly targeted topic niches — hoping that audiences and advertisers will then follow.
The recent deal with production professionals and vlogging community leaders Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson to produce a show demonstrates Podtech’s desire to “establish authoritative voices in content.” Furrier said 22 other channel producers are already signed (including 1938 Media, which we just learned about), with 50 possible by the end of next month.
The key to reaping rewards from programs on niche topics like automotive news is appealing to ‘microcommunities,’ Furrier said. “Advertisers want to put their content in front of audiences that they know are contextually and behaviorally what they want.” By involving and engaging a particular community, he said, lines of communication between the advertisers and the influencers can be opened up. It will be interesting to see if the same principles will apply to the entertainment and comedy channels Podtech is planning on adding soon.
When asked about how Podtech can justify deals that allows producers to retain ownership of their content, Furrier said the value Podtech is leveraging is in providing new material and a place for the audience to congregate around it. “The users like us because we bring them new stuff,” he said. In turn, Podtech treats producers as “a new breed of media developers. They want a place to hang out, do their stuff and get paid.”
Of course, challenges lie ahead, especially when it comes to competing for eyeballs with broadcast networks and online players like Google, who can pay top dollar for talent. But Furrier isn’t waiting around to see what happens with what-ifs.
“We’re not really publicly talking about it. We’re just out there doing it,” he said. “We’re creating a media network, in a new way, in a different way.” By treating media creators more like software developers, letting advertisers directly access potential customers in a compelling way and giving their users what they want, Podtech could do just that.
Photo by Thomas Hawk.