Things turned out a bit better than that. The number of subscribers to the Cleveland Clinic Health Edge video podcast went
from 3,000 in early 2006 to 8,000 by the beginning of 2007. The more than doubling of the audience happened without any promotion,
according to Glenn Bieler of the Cleveland Clinic's marketing and education department. "I think it shows the power of video
podcasting just from the fact that we got so many hits without doing much other than simply putting them out," Bieler says.
The Cleveland Clinic isn't sure how many people are watching its video podcasts at their computer and how many are taking
the extra step of downloading it to their portable video devices. "As long as they watched it, I don't care if they watched
it on their iPod, their TV, or their computer.... They clicked on it and watched it and got the message," says John Cantanese,
director of interactive marketing for the Cleveland Clinic.
The Cleveland Clinic was especially well-suited for the move into portable video because it already had a robust newsroom
on campus that was feeding fresh medical news to TV stations around the country on a daily basis. It was just a matter of
repurposing the material from the small screen (TV) to the tiny screen (iPod).
Interestingly, the Cleveland Clinic says its video podcasts are much more popular than its audio-only podcasts. Their theory
is that actually seeing the videos helps to "humanize" the doctors and make it easier for patients to relate to the story.
Lisa Adler of Millennium Pharmaceuticals explains that when using video podcasting to communicate with patients, it's important
to write clearly and not to sound as if you are reading product information into the camera: "From a healthcare-literacy standpoint,
it's important because it can make information accessible to a wide variety of patients—if done correctly," says Adler. "In
other words, if you do a video podcast in 'medicalese' that only doctors will understand, you may be missing an important
group of patients who could potentially benefit from your message."
Video podcasting has other applications as well. "I think that it's good not only from an external standpoint but also internal-communications
standpoint," Adler says. Some companies are even giving their employees video iPods so that they can watch training videos
and corporate webcasts at their leisure. Another advantage of video podcasting is that it reduces the need to reprint durable
materials every time you have new information.
Also, marketers shouldn't get too caught up in terminology. What's the difference between streaming video and a video podcast?
Is it a video podcast if I watch it on my Archos instead of an iPod? Is it still a video podcast if I watch it on my LG cell
phone that also gets live TV? The simple answer is: It doesn't matter. (See "Building a Better Podcast")
Finally, in the event that you are a reading this and thinking, "It's just a fad; I'm not doing anything until I have metrics
and a firm way of measuring ROI," you might want to start waving good-bye to your career. By the time someone does a scholarly
review of these tools and teaches a Harvard Business School class on video podcasting, your competition will be breaking sales
records and you'll be sitting at a Starbucks crying into your half-caf latte trying to figure out what happened.
"When Time magazine puts 'You' on the cover as Man of the Year, you know that times have changed," says Susan Bang of Susan Bang public
relations in New York. I would second Susan's statement by saying that when YouTube sponsored a presidential debate, it officially
stopped being a fad.
Grant Winter is president of Manhattan Bureau. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org