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Podcasts 101: How Podcasts Add Value to Your Site
By Joe Dysart
If you're the parent of a young adult, you probably know that podcasts — short audio programs downloaded from the Web and played on digital audio players and desktop computers — are all the rage with the ages 18 to 29 demographic.
While these early adopters love the technology for many reasons, one of the most compelling is the fact that iPods, digital audio players and computers can be programmed to automatically download podcasts for listening at another time — a concept known as time-shifting.
As a consequence, increasing numbers of consumers and business people of all ages are catching the podcasting bug. "It gives them the freedom to choose when, where and how they listen to it," says David A. Fish, chief executive of I Make News (www.imninc.com), an e-communications service provider that has seen a rapid rise in the number of firms seeking to reach out to clients and customers with podcasts.
"They can play a podcast in the background while they do other work on their computers," Fish says. "Or they can download the podcast to a portable MP3 player and listen to it at their convenience — on the commuter train, at the gym or at home."
Not surprisingly, a number of catalog and online merchants have noted podcasts' promotional power, and have begun offering such programs as a way to increase traffic to their sites. For example, Rough Guides (http://roughguides.com), a travel guides merchant, offers several free, travel-related podcasts to get more Web cruisers to click its way. Great Relaxation Music (www.greatrelaxationmusic.com) regularly posts free podcasts to showcase some of the music in the collections it sells. And Texas Music Round-Up (www.texasmusicroundup.com), a cataloger of discount music from Texas, also offers free podcasts featuring selections in its inventory as a way to entice cruisers to take a listen.