This is a topic I’ve discussed with a number of high-end podcasters in the past two weeks. Many of us are ready to get serious about sponsorship and underwriting of our programs. The problem is that we’re not ad-sales people — we’re hosts and producers — and none of us have enough traffic to support a salesperson. We need the same level of professionalism in ad sales that exists for more traditional web advertising and sponsorship, and we need that help from someone who can explain to prospective sponsors the unique opportunities (and challenges) of podcasting. For example, unlike display-ad sites, we don’t get explicit click-throughs since most of our listeners are anonymous, retrieving their content via RSS and podcatcher software.
I doubt that any single podcast will achieve the levels of traffic sufficient to support a full-time ad-sales person this year. But if an independent sales rep or organization were to build a portfolio containing today’s best podcasters, I’m confident there’s enough revenue potential to justify at least one dedicated person.
The opportunity is there with the existing high-end podcasts. All it takes is for a qualified person or company to step up and take it on.
Update: See a post by Brad Gibson.