Unless you've been living in a cave (a very deep one) the last few weeks, you probably are aware of Apple's latest -- and perhaps most exciting -- product announcement: the video iPod.
I'm known for being an avid gadget geek, but still you may ask, "What does the video iPod have to do with email marketing?" Maybe nothing. But I believe maybe everything.
Look at it this way. Who better to offer commercial-grade RSS applications to serious marketers than the email service provider crowd? We've already got electronic opt-ins, databases, high bandwidth delivery, etc. For those of you who are non-technical, RSS is the technology underlying podcasts. Email engines drive RSS; RSS drives podcasting; podcasting drives the distribution of video and audio content.
Today, Steve Jobs will let us download last night's episode of Desperate Housewives for $2. No commercials.
But, how much would he charge if it had commercials? One dollar? Would it be free? The real "what if" comes in when you think about using the kind of targeting we emailers use every day, to create commercials that are highly targeted, highly relevant and interesting to each consumer. All of a sudden, this emerging new delivery approach can create more value for marketers and consumers than any existing channel. It starts to get interesting.
Next, consider the distribution of content not popular enough to make it onto the mainstream television channels. Children's programs, history programs, old episodes of "I Love Lucy." Yes, they're all probably on some TV channel somewhere. But catching them on your schedule or even with a TiVo is tough. There's a great opportunity here. It's encased in the brilliant idea of the "long tail," described in this must-read article by Wired Magazine. All of a sudden, it becomes commercially feasible for media companies (and marketers) to reach out and distribute a breadth of programming to new audiences that didn't exist a year ago.
Think TiVo-meets-the-long-tail, meets-online-direct-marketing. This might just change things forever.