Podcasting: A New Alternative to Radio? Some Banks Are Utilizing the Internet to Distribute Marketing Materials in the Form of Low-Cost Audio and Video Media Files

By Lubetkin, Steven L. | ABA Bank Marketing, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Podcasting: A New Alternative to Radio? Some Banks Are Utilizing the Internet to Distribute Marketing Materials in the Form of Low-Cost Audio and Video Media Files


Lubetkin, Steven L., ABA Bank Marketing


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Not long ago, the Sun National Bank of Vineland, N.J., was developing a campaign to promote its new mortgage subsidiary.

Rather than use traditional media such as print, television or radio, the bank, which has assets of $3.3 billion, decided to use a form of podcasting, which in this case, consisted of an audio media file distributed over the Internet.

The podcast contained an interview with the subsidiary's president and the chief loan officer, who described for first-time homebuyers the process of applying for a mortgage. The officers discussed such things as what to expect, what documents to pull together and how the process works.

The bank thought a podcast had the potential to reach beyond a traditional hard-sell campaign that focused only on products and services. In essence, the podcast publicized the subsidary's expertise and "thought leadership" in a low-key, informative way.

The bank was attracted to the medium's long shelf life. "It's not an ad or radio spot where you're in for a day or a few seconds," says Ed Malandro, senior vice president and direct of retail banking and marketing. "Podcasts can he kept on Web sites or used to complement other marketing activities ..." For example, you can hand out podcast recordings at trade shows, he notes.

Podcasts are also a good option when you're twing to stretch out a marketing budget, he adds.

Delivered 24/7

As the Sun National example shows, financial institutions are dipping their toes in the waters of the so-called "social media." that is, media that use the Internet to distribute news, photos, and audio and video files. Podcasts, which consist of either audio or video files, offer a fresh new way to communicate with customers as well as employees and stockholders.

Effective podcasts entertain and inform audiences, providing them with useful information, whether or not these listeners do business with your bank.

Unlike broadcast advertising, which can be expensive to produce and place, or audio- and video-news-release packages that may be used only on small broadcast stations late at night or not at all, podcasts are full-length programs that are delivered to a global audience 24-hours-a-day through the Internet. Podcast programs are served via Web sites, through the Apple iTunes Music Store (www.itunes.com) and through syndication technology known as an RSS "feed," which alerts podcast listeners automatically when new program content is available.

The increasing availability of high-speed broadband Internet makes it convenient for podcast audiences to download audio and video files for offline review.

Podcasts can expand the reach of a bank's marketing dollars at a fraction of the cost of direct mail or radio or TV advertising because podcasts reach prequalified audiences that self-select the content to which they listen.

A January 2008 study by market research and consulting company Horowitz Associates indicated that 60 percent of high-speed Internet users either watch or download online video content at least once a week, and more than 85 percent do so on a monthly basis.

And the production costs for podcasts are significantly lower as well.

"This technology is so basic, anyone can do it," says Neville Hobson, a British communications consultant who participates in a twice-weekly podcast about communications trends (www.forimmediaterelease.biz). "Somebody who wants to get out a quick five-minute message to a team, which might be dispersed across different geographies and different offices, can just get a little headset and record something on his own laptop."

How to create effective podcasts

Creating podcasts is reasonably simple, although taking some time to learn about sound recording can be advantageous. Many novice podcasters simply connect an inexpensive headset to their computers and use the Windows recording application that comes with the PC. …

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