VoloMedia Makes iTunes Interactive

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VoloMedia today announced a new version of its plug-in that introduces social features to video podcasts played in iTunes. It’s a nifty little product that gives users some value from downloading VoloMedia’s plug-in, whose main purpose is to manage ad insertion and deliver metrics to the podcast publisher. Now users will be able to treat iTunes video more like web video, by emailing it to their friends and sharing it on sites like Digg and Delicious.

But that little boost of a feature won’t attract hordes of users (especially this user, since the plug-in is only available for Windows). It’s more important that VoloMedia attract publishers who can persuade their audiences to download the plug-in (the tools still work, but in much more limited fashion, without the plug-in). Right now its marquee customers are Fox News and MSNBC. The company has also invested in a sales team, which has brought in big advertiser names like Pepsi.

The iTunes plug-in builds on VoloMedia’s support of Flash and Adobe Media Player, which is important since streaming video is so much more popular than downloaded media at this point (multiple estimates put the portion of U.S. Internet users who have tried podcasts at a third). The cool thing about podcast watchers and listeners, though, is that they are much more tuned in; their deliberate use of the media (subscribing via RSS, etc.) leads them to 68 percent unaided awareness of brands advertised in podcasts, according to a study by Podtrac and TNS. By contrast, the industry benchmark for unaided brand awareness for streaming video is 21 percent, and for television, 10 percent. But on the downside, there’s also that whole economic-downturn-reducing-advertising-spending thing.

Disclosure: VoloMedia advertises on the GigaOM network.

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