Podsense Speculation

Google appears to be gearing up for the release of a new podcasting product, uncoincidentally right on the heels of the Nov. 1 discontinuation of Audioblogger.

This would be insignificant, and barely worth me diverting my attention from reading Marcuse and trying to get articles done by their deadlines, except for all the speculation by others about an Adsense product for podcasts. Wait a sec – would that mean placing context/keyword sensitive audio ads inside podcasts?

The implications are pretty huge, if so. Jeff Molander at Seeking Alpha writes:

Will Google use its patented ability to take voice and turn it into a search query… and scale it? This would allow Google’s AdSense for Audio service to “listen” to podcast content and provide contextually matched text ads on a Web page. Yet what’s stopping them from placing audio ads at the front and/or tail of audio programs delivered via the Web? This is not a new idea (there are a handful of start-ups like Podbridge, Podtrac promising this or a variation of it) but Google has the proven ability to scale and Madison Avenue presence – just like Podshow does. Hence, I believe this move by Google is bad news for a variety of startups promising a ‘podcast – advertising’ match service.

Surely such a keyword/context aware audio adsense service for podcasts, if plausibly launched at all, would have at least as many (if not more) issues with speech recognition as would, well, speech recognition software, which has a built-in machine training curve that is impractical for the pace of the online advertising industry. Without speaker-centered training for ad campaigns on particular podcasts, ads could easily misfire on common homonyms or even rhyming words (“sex” and “text” come to mind as being particularly problematic). Not insurmountable problems, to be sure, but problems to solve, yes.

I predict that if we see anything this year from Google on this front it will be a much simpler, non-automated affair. Something less exciting, but more doable. Perhaps we’ll see something as simple as tags. Hoorah.

Anyway, back to Marcuse.

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