Audible's AudibleWordcast: An Advance for Monetized Podcasts? (ADBL)

| About: Audible, Inc. (ADBL)

The latest development in the effort to efficiently monetize podcasts: Audible (ticker: ADBL) announced a new web-based application called AudibleWordcast that the company claims will make podcasts 'audit-ready' by measuring subscriber behavior -- not just number of downloads (which ad-enabling Fruitcast already provides). The program delivers podcasts in Audible's .aa format (which works with iPods and dozens of other devices), and has the following paid metrics-monitoring addons:

  • For three cents a download, AudibleWordcast will report whether a downloader listened and for how long.
  • For five cents, Audible will report listening behavior and restrict access (no emailing).
  • Ad inserts will run one half cent per download.

Voices of dissent have been aplenty:

Om Malik: 'What you really have is a company of questionable relevance - it is no Apple - trying to hijack a popular trend, and basically impose their own properitary standards on the podcast phenomenon.'

Rafat Ali: 'I can see how this might work for some people but I think the real solution will have to work with mp3s.'

Doc Searles: 'The problem here, once again, is that the supply side continues to think that 'free markets' for 'content' are Your Choice of Silo. '

Dave Wiener: 'If it's not MP3, is it still podcasting? By design, podcasting took a poison pill at the very beginning of its life that made it impossible for the corporate types to subvert it without fundamentally changing what it is.'

Jeff Jarvis: 'I do want to find ways for creators to make money and find support for what they love, for I believe that will yield more creation and more independence from those big guys... That’s my problem with the Audible system. It’s both closed and expensive.'

In response, Audible consultant Mitch Ratcliffe defended the new product: 'Audible is contributing something new. Despite what people may think, because Audible offers audio in the .aa format (because MP3 does not support auditing of listenership), this is a determined effort to embrace the very best of what the market has to offer while adding services and capabilities that simply aren't available anywhere else.'

And Nicholas Carr added: 'I find it hard to see Audible's move as a horrible thing. If its Wordcast service... or the associated pricing model is flawed, then it will flop. If it succeeds, then it, by definition, has value - for content creators or consumers or both.'


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