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9/15/2006
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Techie Radio Host Launches Ad-Supported Podcast Programs

Ads begin running in podcast programs dubbed "This Week in Tech," "Security Now," and "Inside the Net" on Los Angeles' TWiT.tv network.

Los Angeles KFI radio host Leo Laporte has launched a podcast network called TWiT.tv with three top brands to support the endeavor, which is separate from his role at Clear Channel Communications.

Dell Computer, T-Mobile, and Visa have agreed to sponsor a series of podcasts running on the TWiT.tv network. This week, listeners will hear Visa ads in all podcasts for the month of September. Dell's ads begin running in podcast programs dubbed "This Week in Tech," "Security Now," and "Inside the Net."

The sponsors will run the ad campaigns as tests, shorter campaigns than Laporte would have liked, but the goal aims to help larger brands feel more comfortable with the medium. "If a few big advertisers and agencies try it they'll go 'Wow, this is more effective and efficient than anything we've done before'," he said. "I could be wrong, and they could come away saying that didn't work. But shoot for the stars, right."

Laporte, known for his expertise in tech, estimates the combined TWiT.tv network has more than 300,000 listeners. The site will offer 12 podcasts, varied in length. The Daily Giz Wiz, averaging 10 minutes, has about 20,000 listeners, while the flagship podcast, This Week in Tech, or TWiT, typically runs more than an hour.

The relationship between the podcaster and the audience proves important when looking for advertisers to support the program, said Mark McCrery, CEO and cofounder, Podtrac Inc., a podcast research, advertising and marketing firm that found advertisers for the TWiT.tv network. A survey conducted earlier this year, said 93 percent of the 15,189 TwiT.tv podcast listeners who completed the Podtrac survey earlier this year said they have listened to six or more TWiT podcasts. Ninety one percent said they always listen to the entire episode. Nine percent said they listen to each episode more than once.

The survey also gives insight into the amount TWiT listeners spend on electronics. "Representative of the U.S. population, most people spend about $100," McCrery said. The average spent on "computer software in the last 12 months was $350."

The data supporting the higher than average spend for electronics by TWiT listeners helped McCrery secure Dell, T-Mobile and Visa as advertisers.

Laporte had hoped to build the TWiT network strictly on donations from listeners. Although not opposed to advertising supported podcasts, he shunned the prospect of his having ad segments during the keynote at last year's Podcast and Portable Media Expo in Ontario, Calif.

"Last yea, at the keynote, I said don't worry the about money, just do it cause you love it," Laporte said. "That's still true. Most podcasters will not make more than enough to fund their bandwidth bills."

Although TWiT listeners are loyal contributors, donations didn't cover the costs to pay podcasters or support the network. Until now, volunteers had produced the shows.

Laporte also will keynote this year's Podcast and Portable Media Expo, held this year on Sept. 29 and 30, in Ontario, Calif. Topics will address advertising, finding the accurate numbers to approach advertisers, and Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store podcast dominance.

Who's listening to podcasts? A survey conducted by Forrester Research Inc. reveals the highest percentage of listeners range between 12- and 21-year olds. "In a survey of 67,000 households, 25 percent said they listen to podcasts, and 3 percent said they listen daily," said Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler.

Listen to the podcast here.

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