Having a nasty cold is a gentle reminder that, despite our great achievements, humans are still effectively powerless against many of the microbes that have dominated the biosphere since the beginning of life. At least that's a nice grand thought to have as I hack and cough away the day in bed.
Anyway, I noticed something today while laid up. The podcast I co-host, Inside Home Recording, has a significant although not (in the scheme of things) huge audience of several thousand listeners. There's an active community of people who send us email, post to our forums, and leave comments on the blog.
But the audience for my wife's podcast, Lip Gloss and Laptops, is something else. They have a much smaller number of subscribers and readers, something in the high hundreds, with something like 10% of the monthly downloads of Inside Home Recording, as far as I can tell. But they get about the same amount of email as IHR does. In other words, probably almost every one of their listeners is truly dedicated, and they're involved and sending feedback.
Traditional media measurement and advertising, which are based on spamming vast numbers of people in hopes of getting returns from a tiny proportion, really don't do those sorts of differences justice. But right now everyone's understanding of how podcast audiences interact with their shows—and advertisers and sponsors, and each other—is pretty limited. Despite the show's smaller overall audience, to a cosmetics company, a Lip Gloss and Laptops listener is probably worth more than an Inside Home Recording listener is to a musical gear company, and both are worth vastly more than a reader of, say, Rolling Stone.
I don't have a conclusion from this analysis, other than that I think over the next few years you'll see many more smaller chunks of money being distributed to smaller media outlets with relatively miniscule, but very focused, audiences. And there will still be 30-second commercials for Coke on nationwide sitcoms too.