James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

81: The Podcasting Model

The Fieldwork: “The Podcasting Model”

While watching the local news over the weekend, I saw this startup being featured in one of their fluff piece

segments. What was obvious during this “interview” was the clear bend toward advertisement rather than an honest feature. The timing of this couldn’t have been more perfect, as there has been an ongoing conversation around the state of digital advertising.

I know online advertising far too well. I was responsible for a lot of the web sucking, at least for online newspapers, a few months ago. Those lovely interstitials, ads that push down the journalistic content, flashing animations of cars flying from the sky into explosions? These useless 1s and 0s that caused our team to stay late and miss our families helped pay our rents. Even while making these pointless boxes on the web, I still ran an adblocker. I hated ruining the internet and felt guilty that I was creating a terrible experience for readers. In the back of my mind I knew there was a better way. Now that I’m running my own space, I’m far removed and can speak up.

Perhaps online publishers should look to podcasters.

Podcasting is such a personal medium, one where hours of your time is spent with a voice narrating your life. My favorite hosts follow me while I shower, make breakfast, drive cars, ride bikes, recline on trains, while I work, and before I sleep. Daily gaps can be filled with conversations, anecdotal points, and on demand thoughts that otherwise might not be expressed in my real life. Podcasters are my friends that I’ve never met, but still let me sit in on their conversations week to week.

It’s this reason alone why podcast advertising is so effective. I’ve been introduced to black-owned shaving products, photos that are printed on glass, and mattresses delivered to your door. 1 Podcast advertising reminds me of a friend that’s pulling you to the side and saying, “Hey man, I’ve got something I think you’ll like.” It’s the perfect blend of clearly defining an advertising spot, amplifying a high quality product that stands on their own, and the illusion that I’m being personally recommended I might enjoy.

A suggestion for online publishers looking to mimic podcast advertising is finding journalists on their team that truly love the advertised product. This way, authenticity is amplified and a personal connection is made. At the bottom of the article is two sentences, a static image, slightly different typeface, and a different colored background to truly elude that this is not part of the journalistic content.

72bfb284-e376-4210-b75c-433faa9db2fe.jpg

A back of the napkin wireframe, but you get the idea.

“Shakeia Johnson really enjoys Miss Jessie’s and thinks you will too. Find out more about how it can make your hair great.”

Advertising is necessary, but shitty practices are not. The reason page jacking and data sucking methodologies has taken over is the assembly line nature of its implementation. I couldn’t tell you how many ads I could crank out an hour with copy and pasting javascript tags and uploading assets into web software. Choosing advertisers is akin to walking through a flea market. The loudest and cheapest make you open your wallet.

The podcast model of advertising takes more time. There’s more effort into being selective because the host’s voice is recommending the product. On our own podcast, the advertisers we work with are those we stand behind. There’s more at stake when you’re telling your listeners, who listen to your voice once a week, that you endorse a crap product.

Now that the tools are becoming democratized for readers beyond the tech minded to block problematic content, I’m confident that ads will get better. There’s no choice. Journalists and designers that work at agencies have rent that’s due on the first of every month, so tides have to change. Let’s try to make advertising more personal, just not so personal that they dip into our data caps.

————————————————————————————————————

This Week’s Magazine Clippings

★ “Ad Blocking, Ad Networks, & Your IP Address”: If you read one thing about ad blocking during this whole débâcle, check this one out. Complete with diagrams to see what happens when tracking ad comes across your information, this was an eye opening article. 

★ “We Asked Some Refugees for the Stories Behind Their Smartphone Backgrounds”: There’s been a big conversation about smartphones during the current refugee crisis, stating that these devices emit a certain amount of wealth, when in fact, they have reached the point of utilitarian. Here’s a collection of photographs of refugees holding their smartphone wallpapers with their stories behind them.

★ Steve Albini Shows That Punk Rock Ethics Are Good Business: A hat tip to The Report newsletter by Jen Myers, this was a long read that explained how to create a sustainable business without being an asshole. It goes to show that you don’t have to make gobs of money in order to live comfortably.

★ Notes on Gesture by Martine Syms: A preview of a video of Martine’s solo exhibition at Bridget Donahue that opened on the 17th of this month. A fascinating look into gesture by repetition. The main quote really got me: “Everybody wanna be a black woman but nobody wanna be a black woman.”

★ Art Leader of the Moment: Naomi Beckwith, Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art: An interview with the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. I was lucky to have a studio visit with her so it was great to hear her touch so much on the importance of research in art-making. 

————————————————————————————————————

Updates

★ I have two slots open for design and development work between October - December of this year. If you are in need or know of any leads, contact me.

★ Well shit, this Wednesday will be episode 21 of Cher Vincent and myself’s podcast, Open Ended. We vaguely talk about humanity and tech from the black perspective, but mostly we trade jokes and talk about ratchetness of our surrounding world. It’s honestly a great weekly release. This week we are chatting with Lindsay Eyth of Eythink. You can check out last week’s episode, ‘My Life is Not a Debate Point’ on our websiteiTunes, or in any other podcast player. Be sure to rate us on iTunes and send us a donation to keep the lights on.

★ If you’re into owning some art, I’ve got a few framed prints of a piece I created recently, “we(act)," for sale. If you are interested in having some art of mine in your home or studio, reply to this email so we can chat!

————————————————————————————————————

Support The Studio Visit Letters

These letters take roughly 24 hours a month between writing, editing, fact-checking, and adding items to the archive. Consider sending a one-time donation and becoming a member starting at a dollar a month.

A wonderful and heartfelt thank you to the 11 supporters this week:

Jennifer, Joelle, David, Jessica, Chad, Will, Eboni, Jayson, Subi, Allyson, and Revision Path.

You keep this boat a float. Only $216 to go before this becomes sustainable!

Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

-James

  1. If you listen to enough podcasts, I guarantee you know which products I’m talking about. 

James T. Green