Virgin Makes Podvertising First With Pete And Geoff

Virgin Makes Podvertising First With Pete And Geoff

Virgin Radio has become the latest mainstream broadcaster to jump aboard the podcasting bandwagon, making the Pete and Geoff Breakfast Show available to download, enabling listeners to load it onto their mp3 players and enjoy it wherever, and whenever they see fit.

The move makes Virgin the first station to offer a podcast service for one of its daily shows, delivering the latest Pete and Geoff content to their portable music player automatically every weekday.

The podcast will be offered to users free of charge, following a sponsorship deal with the COI and Expedia to cover Virgin’s expenses. The deal proves the commercial viability of podcasting and also creates the UK’s first example of ‘podvertising’.

Commenting on the move, Lee Roberts, sales director at Virgin Radio, said: “This deal proves that Virgin Radio is at the forefront of innovation within the radio industry. Podvertising is a new revenue channel and can target a specific audience with a personalised message. Radio stations have to adapt to the changing market and new platforms in order to create new revenue channels, we’re proud to be the first with podvertising.”

The sponsorship deal was negotiated by OPera, enabling Virgin to provide the service without incurring any extra costs. Explaining the significance of the deal, Jonathan Gillespie at OPera said: “OPera clients are going to be the first to benefit from Virgin Radio’s innovative and leading edge technology. Working hand in hand with forward thinking stations like Virgin Radio gives clients new and exciting opportunities to drive their brands. Having the COI and Expedia as the first ‘Podvertisers’ is a coup for two important OPera clients.”

The move by Virgin echoes that of the BBC, which introduced podcasting to listeners of Radio 4’s In Our Time last year. The service, which began as a low-key trial run, was hailed as a success with more than 70,000 downloads of the programme registered by the Corporation in just one month (see BBC Claims Success For Radio Download Service). The BBC has since extended the service to include Radio Five Live’s Fighting Talk (see BBC Extends Podcasting Trial With Five Live Content), although the Corporation has yet to make a daily show available for download via the podcasting system, instead choosing to extend its web-based online radio player (see BBC Boosts Radio Player To Increase Online Listening).

Explaining Virgin’s decision to take up the new technology, James Cridland, head of new media at the station, said: “We are always looking to reach our audience in as many ways and possible and as MP3 ownership grows podcasting is a hugely desirable service for listeners. Providing the service for free will build the profile of Pete and Geoff and Virgin Radio and be a first in the rapidly growing world of podcasting.”

Podcasting is commonplace in America, with many amateur broadcasters creating their own content for download, usually focusing on specific, niche subject areas. Users of the service receive automatic downloads of new content via software installed on their home computers. This software is then able to synchronise the new content whenever the user plugs their portable player in to the PC charge or add new music.

Virgin’s Pete and Geoff Podcast differs from the broadcast show in that it consists of just the creative content from the morning show, removing the news, weather, traffic and travel content as it will be irrelevant and outdated by the time listeners receive their download. Podcast listeners will also be targeted exclusively with adverts for the COI and Expedia, wherever and whenever they are listening.

The latest move cements Virgin’s reputation as a leader in the adoption of new technology. The station was the first in Europe to broadcast over the internet, was the first radio station to launch a WAP site and, more recently, was the first to broadcast digital radio and fully support DAB. The station also launched its first digital broadcasts to 3G mobile phones last week, enabling users to tune in anywhere in the world and enjoy Virgin in crystal clear digital quality (see Virgin Offers Digital Radio To Mobiles).

Commercially, the station was also the first to carry a sponsored breakfast show, introduced the concept of radio advertorials and to provide a post campaign analysis for all airtime campaigns. The new podcasting technology will also be accountable to advertisers, with Virgin able to measure downloads and streams of music through mp3 players.

Virgin Radio: 020 7434 1215 www.virginradio.co.uk

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